Success & Goal Achievement

What is Self Discipline? 7 Ways to Develop It

Learn how to be self-disciplined to be your best self and excel in your life in these 7 steps.

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Do you know what sets highly successful people apart from the people who never achieve their goals in life? 

Successful people are clear on what they want and take unstoppable action toward their dreams. They don’t let setbacks, distractions, or challenges derail their progress. When an obstacle appears on their path, they figure out a way to dissolve it, get around it, and never give up until they reach their intended destination. 

And that, my friend, takes self-discipline. 

Today I’m going to share my top tips on how to build self-discipline and cultivate the unstoppable persistence and resilience you need to achieve ambitious goals. 

You’ll also discover some helpful examples of self-discipline practices and learn how self-control can be the difference between finding the courage to take bold action and preventing your fears from keeping you small. 

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What Is Self-Discipline?

Self-discipline is the ability to keep pushing yourself forward and taking action toward your desired outcomes. It’s the unbreakable determination to keep doing what you should be doing, no matter what obstacles, opportunities, or distractions appear on your journey. 

It means knowing how to prioritize your time to get the results you want in life. It requires you to say no to the good in order to say yes to the GREAT and be able to delay your immediate pleasure or comfort in favor of long-term success. 

Self-discipline is different from self-motivation or willpower in which it’s not so much the fire that propels you forward but the relentless commitment to keep showing up and doing the work. Without self-discipline, your motivation and willpower will inevitably burn out. 

So the answer to “What is self-discipline?” is this:

It’s the consistent practice of chopping wood to fuel the fire every single day, no matter how tired or busy you are, or what the weather is like. 

The Importance of Self-Discipline

Self-discipline is important because if you want to achieve a big goal, you WILL run into obstacles that may not foresee yet. 

You will have to learn new skills. You will have to put yourself in unfamiliar – and likely uncomfortable – situations. You will have to take risks, ask for help, and you WILL experience setbacks and failure. 

And that’s okay! It’s all part of the learning process. 

Knowing how to have self-control and continuing to show up even in the face of challenging situations is what is going to ensure you succeed in the long run. 

Not only does developing self-discipline allow you to achieve your long-term goals, but it also pushes you to perform higher-quality work and get better results in everything you do. As a result, it helps you get ahead in your life and career so much faster and accelerates your ability to create your desired reality. 

Additionally, self-control gives you the tools to better manage stress and anxiety. It boosts your relationships and makes it easier for you to stay fit and healthy. And it will make you happier because even the experiences that bring you happiness requires self-discipline to achieve. 

For example, eating a great meal requires the discipline to learn how to cook or earn the money you need to order it at a restaurant. Even a daily gratitude practice requires discipline to show up and keep pursuing it! 

How to Develop Self-Discipline

If you’re ready to learn how to be more disciplined, the following steps will help you build your self-discipline muscle and cultivate self-control.

1. Identify Your Strengths & Weaknesses

To learn how to build self-discipline, your first step should be to get really clear on your own strengths and weaknesses. What comes easily for you and where do you experience challenges – and what has been holding you back from focusing on developing self-discipline before? 

Take some time to consider the life you deeply desire to create. What has stopped you from making it a reality? How do you respond when things get tough or when obstacles and tempting distractions appear on your path? Identify any reactions or actions on your part that may be stopping you from getting the results you want. 

If you’re serious about learning how to be more disciplined, it’s also a good idea to ask for feedback from people who know you well and want the best for you, both in your personal and professional life. 

Ask them what they think your biggest strengths and weaknesses are, and how those weaknesses may be holding you back. Self-awareness is a powerful tool for success! 

2. Visualize Your Goals

What is self-discipline without a goal to work towards? The clearer you are on what exactly you want to achieve, the easier it will be for you to remember why you’re showing up to do the work – and you will continue to build your self-discipline muscle over time through consistent daily practice. 

Take some time to write down your goals in clear detail, making sure that they fall under the definition of “S.M.A.R.T. goals” – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. 

You can also visualize the goal itself, as well as what you’ll need to do to achieve it, and the specific steps you’ll need to take to make it happen. 

Once you have your vision written down, revisit it every day and spend at least a few minutes visualizing yourself successfully going through the steps of accomplishing your goal and experiencing what your life will be like once that goal has been achieved. This will make it so much easier for you to stay focused and overcome any fear or hesitation you may feel when stepping into unknown or unfamiliar situations. 

3. Find Motivation to Keep Going

Self-discipline gets you into the rhythm of showing up every day to do the work you need to do. But even when the practice becomes second nature, there will still be days when you question whether it’s worth it, whether you really are capable of it or even deserve it, and if you’d be happier if you threw in the towel. 

When you experience these moments of challenge and doubt, that’s when you need to remember your purpose and why you’re working on developing self-discipline in the first place! 

Use visualization techniques to keep your desired outcomes top of mind and you will always find the resolution you need to pick yourself up after a stumble and get back on track toward your dreams.  

4. Overcome Any Obstacles

The journey toward any worthwhile goal involves obstacles. They’re a necessary part of the experience! 

Believe it or not, obstacles assist you in achieving your goals – because by overcoming them, you gain the skills and experiences you need to become the kind of person who is capable of making your dreams come true. 

So instead of fearing or avoiding obstacles, I encourage you to embrace them and learn the lessons they have to teach you. And if you want to overcome them with minimal time and effort, I encourage you to come up with a strategy on how you will address possible roadblocks before they appear on your path. 

5. Develop Success Habits

What old habits are getting in the way of your self-discipline? And what new daily habits or mindset practices could you replace them with that would make developing self-discipline easier for you?

For example, you could practice going to sleep by a certain time every night to ensure you have enough energy to show up as your best self and make decisions that support you in learning how to be more disciplined in your life. 

You could also set alarms on your phone or smart watch that remind you to do your daily pushups, meditate, and journal every morning, or complete any other task that is helping you cultivate greater self-discipline. 

Building these small success habits will guide you to achieving bigger goals in your life.

6. Connect with a Mentor

Any goal you want to achieve has almost certainly already been accomplished by someone else. The good news is, that means there are people you can connect with who have walked the path before you who can share their experiences with you and give you invaluable advice on what to do and what NOT to do to make unstoppable progress toward your goals. 

This may involve seeking out mentors and coaches who can keep you accountable and motivated as you work on becoming the kind of person who is capable of making your dreams come true. 

Generally speaking, it’s easier and more effective to work with an experienced coach or mentor than to rely on your family and friends to hold you accountable for your goals. You need an impartial figure who has real experience achieving success and won’t let you get away with making excuses or blaming others for the results you get.

7. Measure Your Progress

Sometimes we get so lost in wondering what self-discipline is and if we’re implementing it effectively in our lives, that we lose track of how far we have come and everything we have accomplished in the process! 

That’s why it’s so important for you to track and measure your progress as you work on having self-control and developing self-discipline. 

I encourage you to keep a success journal and spend a few minutes every evening writing everything you did that day to strengthen your discipline and what type of results you got from your efforts.

 Being able to look back on everything you’ve achieved will help you understand what you’re truly capable of achieving and will help fuel your desire to keep moving forward. 

Tips to Be Self-Disciplined

Here are some final tips on how to maintain your self-discipline on a daily basis:  

  • Avoid distractions – create your daily and weekly schedule based on your top priorities and don’t let anything pull you away from accomplishing the goals you set for yourself. There will still be plenty of time for fun and relaxation after your most important tasks have been dealt with.
  • Don’t let fear of failure stop you – courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the ability to feel the fear and take action anyway. Making mistakes is the only way we learn how NOT to make mistakes – so embrace the roadblocks, learn what they have to teach you, and keep moving forward
  • Reward yourself for a job well done – keep track of your results and celebrate your wins! If you’ve been able to implement a successful habit every day for 30 days, such as eating 2 cups of vegetables, going to bed by a certain time, or making sure the dishes are washed before you go to bed, give yourself a reward to celebrate! When you set goals and celebrate your achievements, you will be more likely to set even bigger goals in the future.
  • When in doubt, return to your vision – remind yourself what your ultimate purpose is and what your goals are, and why you wanted to cultivate self-discipline in the first place. You’re doing it to become the kind of person who is capable of achieving any goal you can imagine! 
  • Practice prioritizing – even the small stuff! Whenever you have any sort of decision to make, ask yourself: will this move me forward to my goals or take me further away? Then focus on always making the decision that will push you closer to your dreams.
  • Become an unstoppable action taker – self-discipline isn’t a mindset or a goal in itself. It’s a practice. It’s the act of getting out of bed and brushing your teeth and repeating your affirmations to yourself every morning. All the best intentions in the world won’t help if you don’t do anything to manifest them! If you want to achieve any goal in life, action is required.

Cultivating self-discipline is the key to making unstoppable progress toward your goals. So if you have big dreams for your life, focus on developing self-discipline and you will be amazed at how much easier your life will become! 

Help Others Learn How to Be More Disciplined

There are so many people in the world who, if asked, “What is self-discipline?” wouldn’t be able to answer the question. 

If this is NOT you – in other words, if you’re a self-disciplined individual with strong success habits who is capable of setting and achieving big goals – you can seriously boost your career and professional skill set by teaching others how to do the same! 

My free guide, Affirmations for Success guide, tells you the importance of daily affirmations, why they are critical to your success, and how to implement them in your life for rapid and positive change. Be sure to check it out to help build a disciplined mindset! 

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Meet Jack Canfield

For over 40 years, he has been teaching entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders, and people from all walks of life how to create the life they desire.

As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul(r) series, he's taught millions of individuals his modernized formulas for success, and has trained and certified over 2,700 students to teach his content and methodology in 107 countries around the world.