How to Build Self-Discipline for Success

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The most common trait among successful people is that they have mastered the art of self-discipline.

They do things that they may not always want to do or don’t feel like doing, because they know it is essential to their success.

Having discipline helps people reach their goals faster, aim higher, and accomplish more, just because they are able to push past whatever is holding them back.

However, self-discipline doesn’t come naturally to everyone – and I mean everyone. It is a learned skill that requires ongoing practice. Like any other skill in life, it takes time to develop.

Those successful people you hear about weren’t born with self-discipline already, they worked to develop it. And you can too.

Before we talk about how to improve this new skill, let’s first talk about what self-discipline actually is.

women meditating and building self-discipline

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What is Self-Discipline?

The dictionary definition of self-discipline is: “the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.”

So basically having self-discipline means you have self-control. You are able to avoid things that you know aren’t good for you and may have negative consequences. And instead do something that will have greater gain and more satisfying results, even if it requires more time and effort.

Now that you know what it is, let’s discuss why it’s an important skill to master.

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Why Mastering Self-Discipline is Important for Success

Self discipline is one of the many tools available to enhance your personal development.

Fitness experts, success coaches, doctors, and personal development gurus, like myself, stress the importance of self-discipline because it is a critical factor when it comes to achieving your goals.

Also, many people with higher levels of self-control have better relationships and communication skills, higher self-esteem, and better emotional responses. And they are often more content, satisfied, and happy in their day-to-day lives.

In order to achieve success, you need to work hard and behave in a particular way without someone else telling you to do so.

discipline is the bridge between our goals and accomplishments.

How to Build Self-Discipline: 10 Powerful Tips

1. Countdown from 10 and Then Take Action

Whenever you are feeling particularly unmotivated, count down from ten, and then force yourself to do whatever it is you should be doing.

This quick countdown can help you shift into the right mental space you need to get motivated.

For example, your alarm goes off and you know you need to get up or you won’t have time to shower before work. Instead of hitting snooze and telling yourself, it’s not worth it, count back from ten and then force yourself out of bed.

Sometimes all we need is a little push and the simple act of counting backward from 10 can get you to that next step.

2. Put Your Goals Where You Can See Them Every Day

Write your goals down and hang them up somewhere you will see often to inspire you. Hang it by your desk, on the bathroom mirror, in your car, etc.

For an added bonus, write motivational quotes related to your goal and hang those around your house, too.

A little motivation goes a long way to increase your self-discipline.

3. Start with Small Habits

Nobody can go from couch potato to running a marathon overnight. Making a shift in your lifestyle is easier if you build up gradually.

Pick some small habits to help you with your self-discipline, like making the bed before you leave your bedroom in the morning, or washing dishes right after you finish a meal.

Small habits are easier to incorporate while you are working to make a lifestyle change. And they can be built upon later.

Related: 29 New Habits to Start this Year

4. Stay Consistent

Consistency is key when building any new skill. You need to work on it every day, even if for just a few minutes, to really seen improvement.

Like I mentioned earlier, self-discipline is a skill that is learned over time. And repeated practice will make it easier to make better decisions along the way.

5. Set Yourself Up for Success Ahead of Time

Guess what, you know yourself best. If you know you might find a way to get out of something, plan for it and make it harder for that to happen.

If you know that you will go and get fast food for lunch tomorrow because it’s easier even though you want to eat healthier, pack a healthy lunch the night before to grab as you head out the door.

Make the habit you are trying to build easier to do and the habits you are trying to break more difficult.

**For more information on making habits easier, check out: Atomic Habits by James Clear

6. Know Your Why

I talk about this tip a lot, but it really works.

If you don’t truly know why you want to start a habit or make a lifestyle change, you can easily tell yourself to stop as soon as it gets hard.

If you are having trouble understanding your why, spend some time journaling about it. Make sure you really understand why you want what you’re about to put a lot of effort into.

7. Set Rewards and Consequences

Setting up a reward system like chore money worked when you were a kid and guess what, it works on adults too.

Yes, as an adult you can technically treat yourself anytime you want to. But setting up a system that includes rewards and consequences keeps you motivated to make a change until it becomes a habit.

Quick reminder, the rewards don’t have to be big or cost money. It could be as simple as ‘I’m not allowed to have coffee in the morning if I hit the snooze button’. Trust me, I’ve done that and it works, I value my coffee time in the morning, so I get up as soon as my alarm goes off.

8. Remove All the Temptations

You don’t have to become “strong enough” to resist temptations, instead just be smart enough to remove them completely.

Separating your temptations from your environment to help you stay on track is a must for building your self-discipline skill.

If you don’t have the temptation right in front of you, it’s easier to resist it.

For example, if you consistently reaching for your phone while your studying, leave it on the other side of the room or, if you can, shut it off.

At first, this is easier said than done, but as you gain control over your temptations, you’ll not only build self-discipline but also feel more confident in yourself.

Related: How to Stop Wasting Time

through self-discipline comes freedom

9. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

I know that’s easier said than done but how often do you find yourself comparing yourself to others and losing motivation.

Know that everyone is on their own journey, working at their own pace, and achieving their own goals. You do not have the same goals as the person next to you.

You are on your own unique path, don’t let the comparison trap influence your decision to get up and master your self-discipline.

Related: What is Mindset

10. Be Nice to Yourself

Building new habits and changing your current lifestyle is hard. I won’t sugarcoat it for you. Our minds like familiarity, and once you try something new, part of your subconscious will fight back.

Don’t allow obstacles to cause you to give up on your big goals.

If you made the commitment to get up early and work out 4 days last week but only did 2, don’t get frustrated with yourself. You already made a huge accomplishment just by working out 2 more times than you did before.

Unless you’re the most self-disciplined human in the world, you are going to hit the snooze button or miss a workout. You are not the only one. It’s going to happen while you are fighting your subconscious through a new habit.

Forgive yourself and keep on moving forward.

Final Thoughts

Remember self-discipline is a skill that is learned over time. There is never really an “end result” when it comes to building skills like these. But that doesn’t mean you will struggle with discipline forever.

I like the think of discipline like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets, and the easier it is to use it.

Stop waiting around for the motivation to kick in, cause it won’t when you need it most.

Start implementing these 10 tips into your life now to build that self-discipline skill, and you will start seeing results

Mastering self-discipline is important for a happier and more full-filled life. You cannot succeed in life without it.

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5 thoughts on “How to Build Self-Discipline for Success

  1. Ah ya ya ya yaaaaaa….. this article really hit close to home! Self discipline has always been a challenge for me in my persona life…. my professional life was not a problem. But now I’m retired and self discipline has gone by the wayside…. nada… zilch… nothing…. then when covid hit, and I started staying home all the time, it went went out the window! Lots of great ideas! I need to get myself in gear and apply your ideas!

    1. Susan, I’m so happy you found my post and you felt super encouraged by it. I know many people whose self discipline fell away when covid first hit. Keep working at it, you got this!

  2. Needed this advice today ❤️ Fab article!

  3. Be Nice to Yourself… such a great advice that is easily forgotten! Brilliant summary of ideas!

  4. This is so great! Thank you for sharing! I especially like the idea of counting down from 10. It’s so simple!!

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Hey, I'm Alyssa

Early Morning Bad*ss, Personal Development Enthusiast and Productivity Addict

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