“Everyone must choose one of two pains: the pain of discipline, or the pain of regret” — Jim Rohn
“The first and best victory is to conquer oneself.” — Plato
Jump to section
Focus on What You Can Control
Do you consistently achieve your goals in your career, health, relationships, business, and spirituality? Are you making progress in the areas that are truly important for you, and living the life you had planned?
Most people will answer no to these questions, and the likely cause is a lack of self-discipline.
Of course, there are also other elements that have their role—such as the economy, the behavior of other people, your genes, your upbringing, “luck”, etc. But these are often things that you can’t do anything about. They are part of the chaos of life, and the only thing we can do about them is to accept them and move along.
You can, however, have full control over your actions, thoughts, and daily routine. The more you take control of these, the more you’ll be able to overcome the chaos of life and consistently achieve your goals.
On the other hand, if you don’t control how you spend your time, how you spend your mental energy, and what you say “yes” and “no” to, then no amount of luck, good genes, or favorable circumstances will be enough.
Having self-discipline is at the heart of this concept of locus of control.
“Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do.” —Napoleon Hill
Knowing what you want but not being able to make it happen, is painful. You might be feeling that time is slipping through your fingers, and while some other people seem to achieve everything they set their mind to, you just can’t get some ideas off the ground. They remain as wishlist items.
It’s not knowledge that is lacking. It’s not contacts, nor money. It’s not even time, nor motivation.
What lacks is commitment. That strong, irreversible decision that you will make it happen no matter what, and the discipline to turn that into action day after day.
When you have that, then New Year’s resolutions don’t flop, dreams don’t die on a ten-page long “bucket list”, and projects and goals don’t get abandoned mid-way.
“I decide, therefore I do” becomes your new mantra.
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn
This is how I live my life, and it is possible for anyone. Self-discipline is not something you either have it or you don’t. It’s a skill that can be learned, a quality that can be developed.
Self-discipline is the number one trait needed to accomplish goals, lead a healthy lifestyle, and ultimately, be happy. (According to a 2013 study by Wilhelm Hoffman, people with high self-control are happier than those without it.)
Great athletes have great discipline. Excellent athletes have excellent discipline.
Likewise for great scientists, entrepreneurs, spiritual masters, writers, artists and leaders. They all have great discipline in their craft—and that is what makes them great.
Self-discipline is your ability to choose what is in your own best interest. It is keeping your goals and values in mind, and manifesting them in your thoughts, words, and actions—day after day.
Self-discipline is an expression of self-love and self-respect. It means you respect your decisions, your priorities, and act accordingly. You don’t go against yourself.
Having self-discipline enables you to:
- Avoid procrastination and get things done
- Use your time, money and energy effectively
- Resist temptations, bad habits, and things that will not really serve you
- Finish what you start, every time!
- Have the freedom to not be swayed by your own thoughts or moods
- Focus on what really matters, day after day
- Do the right thing even when it doesn’t “feel good”
- Learn quickly and grow quickly.
“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” — Abraham Lincoln
The word discipline comes from the word disciple. Indeed, it is discipline that enables you to truly learn and apply what you learned. And we are always learning something—be it a new skill, lessons of life, best practices in your career, how to keep yourself healthy, or how to improve your relationships.
Self-discipline is also the foundation of developing any other skill/virtue in life. Do you want to speak better? Be kinder to people? Be less irritable and reactive? All of that takes the discipline of being mindful of your behavior, and putting forth the effort of constantly tuning it.
With self-discipline comes willpower, self-control, self-confidence, and the ability to fulfill your goals and aspirations. As such, it is the key ingredient to success and fulfillment in most areas of life.
Self-discipline manifests as character, integrity, determination, grit, perseverance, motivation and optimism. In most movies, the trait that we most admire in the characters is their ability to make hard things happen, to stick to their goals/dreams/values despite adversities. Likewise, in daily life people with strong self-discipline are respected, admired and often followed.
Let’s break down what it means to have discipline in the different areas of our lives.
|Non-Disciplined People||Disciplined People|
|Health||Eat what they feel like at the moment, skip the gym, experience low energy and health problems.||Eat healthy. Exercise. Get enough sleep. Beam with health and vitality.|
|Money||Have no control over finances. Barely save, let alone invest. Go into debt. Have no retirement.||Keep a budget. Save. Invest. Spend smart. Retire well. Have peace of mind.|
|Career||Are disorganized. Don’t keep up with new skills and knowledge. Don’t deliver what is expected. Arrive late. Work in a way that is messy and ineffective. Don’t follow through. Grow slowly.||Get the work done. Stay on top of their game. Educate themselves. Go the extra mile. Meet deadlines. Have a clean desk. Get promoted. Lead others.|
|Personal Growth||Believe that “This is just how I am”. Love self-help quotes but don’t implement them. Want to change, but can’t. Or may even think that personal development work is silly or stupid.||Reflect on themselves and their goals. Devote time to personal development. Develop virtues. Meditate regularly. Put things into practice. Transform themselves.|
|Relationships||Say and do things they regret later. Make no consistent effort to improve themselves or their relationship dynamics. Don’t meet expectations.||Show up and meet expectations. Are reliable and dependable. Put in the time and energy to make things work. Control one’s words and actions so as not to create problems.|
|Business||Usually don’t have their own business. Or, if they do, they struggle to grow it.||Are methodical, strategic and determined. Focus on what matters the most, and follow through like a machine. Don’t give up.|
|Habits||Do what feels good at the moment, regardless of long-term consequences. Cannot follow through with their commitments to start a positive habit or stop a negative one.||Are able to create positive habits that empower them in life. Can break bad habits. Don’t waste hours on games, social media or TV.|
|Time||Don’t think much about how they spend their time, nor control it. Spend a lot of time on things that feel good in that moment, but produce nothing. Have no routine.||Have a routine. Spend most of their time on things that matter most. Have the clock as their best friend. Are always active and busy with good things. Choose carefully how they spend their hours, knowing that time = life.|
A disciplined person moves toward his/her goal like an arrow towards its target, overcoming whatever obstacles come on its way, and not stopping until the goal is reached.
Discipline also gives you a positive outlook on life. It gives you enthusiasm, high energy levels, and true self-confidence, because you know you that you have the power to change things, change yourself, and make things happen. You know you can make a difference.
To have a better feel for how important this quality is, take a look at my collection of self-discipline quotes.
What Self-Discipline Is Not
Self-discipline is not about being inflexible and having no fun. A disciplined person can adapt to the circumstances, and knows that it’s important to leave space for play, for time off, and for spontaneity. But when they do that it’s because they want to, and not because they are compelled to, or feel too lazy to make an effort. They keep their priorities in mind, are able to fulfil them, and leave space for the spontaneous as and when they feel the need for it.
Self-discipline is not slavery. Quite the opposite—it is freedom and power. Slavery is when you cannot do what you want to do; discipline is what enables you to do what you really want to do.
“Self-discipline is a form of freedom. Freedom from laziness and lethargy, freedom from the expectations and demands of others, freedom from weakness and fear — and doubt. Self-discipline allows a person to feel his individuality, his inner strength, his talent. He is master of, rather than a slave to, his thoughts and emotions.” — H.A. Dorfman
With self-discipline, you can let your deeper ideals lead your life more fully, rather than temptations, bad habits, and impulses for instant gratification.
Self-discipline is not imprisonment. It is freedom. It is you being the boss of yourself, the boss of your life. It is you deciding what you will do, when, and how—and what you will not do. It is you being the author of your own life.
Changing yourself and your life is very hard. Changing reality around you is even harder. Without self-discipline, it is just wishful thinking.
For most people, self-discipline doesn’t come naturally. Having an accountability coach who himself is highly self-disciplined can make the whole difference, and shortcut the learning process for you.
That is why I offer a 3-month Self-Discipline Coaching Package. This is one of my favorite topics, and something I’m very passionate about. I live a self-disciplined life, and this skill has given me countless benefits.
My coaching will help you to:
- Overcome negative scripts and beliefs regarding self-discipline
- Create and follow an empowered routine that sets you up for the day
- Break down larger projects into smaller goals and daily actions
- Stay on track with goals and routine, regardless of motivation swings
- Bounce back and forgive yourself whenever you make mistakes or stray
- Break bad habits, stop impulsive behavior, and increase self-control
- Manage emotional obstacles such as boredom and frustration
- Use your environment to your advantage, when building a routine
- Stick to your resolutions, goals, and values
- Stop distraction and procrastination
- Develop mindfulness around your urges and compulsions
- Strengthen your willpower
In this world of easy-instant gratification, having self-disciplined is more and more rare—and also more needed. The world will belong to those who have it. The disciplined shall inherit the earth.
“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” — John C. Maxwell
Your Next Steps
You can read all the self-discipline books you like. You can admire all the self-discipline quotes you like. But if you really want to learn how to develop self-discipline, you need to take action.
Do you feel that having more self-discipline would make a big difference in your life?
Do you want me to be your self-discipline coach, and help you life a life with discipline, self-control, and self-mastery?
Then I invite you to fill in the form below.
Note: I offer Self-Discipline Coaching only to 20 people per year. So this form is for me to know more about your background and goals. If I have availability, we will then book a free 20-minute discovery call.
It’s easy to postpone on this. To say, “That sounds interesting… I’ll think about it.” The hard thing is to take action. To commit.
That’s what it takes to make a change.