What Is Self-Discipline?


Your success depends on many different variables. Skills, habits and all kinds of attitudes contribute largely to your individual achievements. Even though there are many important variables, there is one that stands above the rest: self-discipline. Nothing else determines your success in life quite as much as the ability to be self-disciplined. Let’s discover what self-discipline really is and how we can use it to excel in life. Here’s an answer to the question: “What is self-discipline?” Self-discipline is vital for success. In fact, it’s the number one characteristic needed to successfully pursue your dreams. Its impact can be felt throughout all areas of life. If you’re serious about the accomplishment of your dreams and living a happy life, self-discipline is crucial (see also: Essential Strategies to Increase Self-Discipline).

The Science of Self-Discipline

The benefit of high levels of self-control was highlighted by scientists who found that there exists a strong connection between self-discipline and life satisfaction. The results of the study indicated that people with high levels of self-control are in general happier. Further research found that children who showed high levels of self-discipline later on became adults with greater health and wealth.

But what is self-discipline really? What’s the concept words such as “willpower,” “self-control” and “self-discipline” describe?

What Is Self-Discipline?

Day after day, we are confronted with numerous decisions. A high level of self-control allows us to meet the decision that is most beneficial in the long run. This ability helps us to withstand the temptation of choosing the most comfortable or pleasurable decision. Opting for the easiest solution might be quite attractive, but only for a short while. When viewed from a long-term perspective, it’s very likely that none of these “comfortable decisions” contribute to your success.

The danger lies therein that pleasure-oriented decisions typically do not instantly have a negative impact on your life when taken individually. When combined, however, the sum of all these unbeneficial micro-decisions will shape your life and will ultimately determine your destiny.

The Definition of Self-Discipline

noun self–dis•ci•pline \-ˈdi-sə-plən\

The noun self-discipline describes the following:

  • The ability to do the things that need to be done.
  • The ability to train and control one’s conduct.
  • The ability to control one’s feelings and desires.

The noun self-discipline describes the necessary mental strength that is required to control one’s behaviors, feelings and desires. If one is self disciplined, it indicates that one’s feelings and desires are under control. It also shows that one is able to motivate oneself to tackle the tasks and problems that need to be addressed. If you have a high level of self-discipline, you will not shy away from difficulties and obstacles that stand in your way.

An Explanation of Self-Discipline

Self-discipline describes not only the necessary willpower required to do what needs to be done. It also defines the ability to withstand temptations in order to accomplish long-term goals. Basically, it’s your ability to ignore everything that does not contribute to the accomplishment of your objectives. This includes thoughts, feelings and temptations. In fact, self-discipline helps you to withstand the temptation of distractive activities.

Even though we all struggle to be disciplined enough to get unpleasant things done, there are people who are more in control of themselves than others. Let’s have a look at some of the main causes why people struggle to master self-control:

The Reasons for a Lack of Self-Discipline

The major reason why most people struggle to be self disciplined lies in a misperception of the underlying concept. Most individuals misunderstand what self-control truly means. These people associate self-discipline with something painful or obsessive. They wish that being disciplined is easy and pleasurable. For this reason, whenever these individuals try to be more disciplined, it turns out to be a struggle that simply feels not right to them. They don’t like it at all, which is why they quickly return to their comfort zone.

Here’s the major aspect these individuals do not consider when it comes to self-discipline:
The sole purpose of the discipline concept is to make you do things, no matter if it’s pleasurable or not.

For this reason, the intention behind self-discipline is not to give you pleasure and joy. Its only objective is to help you accomplish your long-term goals. But why should you cultivate something that does not give you joy? The reason for this is simple. All your efforts and pains are rewarded once you make your dreams come true. And this is the true reason why being a self disciplined person is so worthwhile. It might not always feel comfortable when you force yourself to stay disciplined, but ultimately your reward will compensate you.

What is self-discipline?

Self-control manifests itself in many different forms

Here’s what you can do if you’re struggling with self-discipline.

First of all, try to remove the expectation that one day you might actually like being disciplined. In most cases, you won’t. However, if you’re not expecting things to be easy, you’ll be more likely to continue the pursuit of being disciplined. In fact, when you expect things to be difficult, you’ll be able to better deal with the struggles you encounter.

Secondly, it is important that you continuously push yourself to maintain self-control. Doing so will help you to establish the habit of being disciplined. Not only will this habit impact major areas of your life, but it will also allow you to increase your chances to succeed.

Here are some more reasons why people lack self-control:

  1. Self-discipline isn’t inherent. It needs to be developed, strengthened and exercised. However, most people find it difficult to do so. If you don’t know how to effectively build and strengthen self-control, it’s fairly difficult to develop it in the first place.
  2. A misperception of self-control. Many mistakenly perceive self-discipline as something that is restrictive and painful. They see it as compulsive and are reluctant to strengthen it.
  3. Acceptance of failure can also contribute to a lack of self-control. When people can live with the prospect of failing, it’ll be difficult to maintain self-discipline.
  4. Temptations. We all are confronted with various kinds of temptations on a daily basis. Giving in to these temptations resembles the entry of a vicious circle. If you do not have the necessary willpower to withstand these temptations, it’ll be even more difficult to break the negative habit.
  5. Lack of purpose. A person who lacks a true vision for life will find more difficult to maintain discipline. However, if you have a mission that you want to see realized, you’ll be more likely to have the necessary willpower to pursue it.

Let’s continue with the next point that will help us to further understand what self-discipline is.

Self-Discipline Is like a Muscle

The ability to be disciplined can be likened to a muscle. If it’s not used, it’ll deteriorate. However, when it’s used continuously, it’ll strengthen. In fact, the more you exercise this “mental muscle,” the stronger your habit of being disciplined becomes. You will not only get used to it, but after some time you will notice that you will continuously keep pushing yourself even further.

It is, however, important to start small when it comes to the development of self-control. It is recommendable not to overdo it in the beginning. Instead, try to start with something small, so as not to lose motivation. This will not only help you getting used to the new behavior, but it will also enable you to quickly reap the first benefits. From this point onwards, you can gradually increase the exertion of your “willpower muscle.”

Once you have mastered to be disciplined about one aspect in your life, you can add another thing you’d like to change. And as soon as you’ve mastered this challenge as well you can focus your attention on something else. As you can see, this approach will help you to transform your life one step at a time. The only important thing to consider is that you will have to pay close scrutiny to maintaining a given habit once it’s established. Do not give in to the temptation of letting your “discipline guards” down.

How to Strengthen Self-Discipline?

Here’s a quick guide on what you can do to strengthen your self-discipline:

  1. Increase your stress tolerance level. High levels of stress will lead you to meet decisions that are instinct driven and based on short-term gratification. This can be accomplished by means of exercise and meditation, more on this in the following.
  2. Meditate. Meditation is one of the most effective methods to strengthen willpower. It increases self-awareness, concentration, focus, and attention, which allows you to meet more beneficial decisions.
  3. Remove distractions. By eliminating temptations and distractions you do not even have to be more disciplined. All you need to do is to carefully remove these things from your life. No willpower necessary.
  4. Postpone unbeneficial behaviors. If you want to break a bad habit it can be tremendously effective to simply postpone the activity. It will satisfy your craving to a certain degree, helping you to avoid it eventually.
  5. Pay attention to what you eat. If you do not eat properly, you’re more likely to be less concentrated. This manifests itself as a weakened sense of discipline.
  6. Break bad habits. Focus on identifying and eliminating negative habits. All it takes is to make an active decision to change the habit. Once the decision is made, put it to practice and give your very best to stick to it.
  7. Reward yourself. Think about possible gratifications for being disciplined. Treat yourself to something nice, as it will help you to maintain your motivation in the long run.
  8. Make a plan. It is most beneficial to write down how exactly you intend to be more disciplined in what area of your life. Develop a clear plan and outline the different steps necessary to accomplish your aim.
  9. Tolerate emotional discomfort. One reason we give in to temptations is that we try to avoid pain. However, in some situations it can be quite beneficial for the paucity of your dreams to tolerate a certain level of emotional discomfort. Discipline will require you to withstand emotional discomfort.
  10. Exercise. Working out regularly has been shown to increase willpower. It is also known to significantly increase your ability to withstand stress and distress.
  11. Establish powerful habits. Most habits are formed within 30 days. This might seem like a long time, but once something has turned into a habit, it will no longer be an effort to exercise it.


What Exactly Is Self-Discipline?

Self-control is the mental strength that allows you to do whatever necessary, even if you do not feel like it. It’s the ability to withstand different kinds of temptations. Individuals that are self-disciplined control their conduct and feelings to a high level. It might not always be pleasurable and joyful to be a disciplined person, but ultimately your determination to pursue your dreams will benefit greatly from it. In fact, self-discipline is like a muscle that can be strengthened. All it takes is the willpower to exert it.

I hope you enjoyed this article on willpower, self-control, and self-discipline. Feel free to tell us what it is that helps you to strengthen your willpower in the comment section below. We’re excited to hear from you and the tricks that you use.

Stay victorious!


About Author

Steve is the founder of Planet of Success, the #1 choice when it comes to motivation, self-growth and empowerment. This world does not need followers. What it needs is people who stand in their own sovereignty. Join us in the quest to live life to the fullest!


  1. Inspiring article.I’m so fortunate to have read it, how coincidental as Self-Discipline is my major resolution for 2016. Much thanks Steve, keep up the good work!

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