10 Key Ways To Improve Self-discipline That Actually Work

10 Key Ways To Improve Self-discipline That Actually Work

Without self-discipline, it is all too easy to become distracted and veer off course. Here’re the best tips to boost your self-discipline. 

Self-discipline is one of the most important skills you can have in life. It enables you to stay focused and achieve your goals, despite distractions or temptations.

While it may be challenging to improve self-discipline, it’s definitely worth the effort. 

Here are a few tips that can help.

Ten essential ways to improve self-discipline

Self-discipline is what separates those who reach their goals from those who don’t. But it can be difficult to develop, especially if you have a hard time motivating yourself or following through on your plans.

Much like an athlete, you need to work on developing an effective, winning strategy; one that includes

  • Planning your training (working toward improving certain skills)
  • Choosing the right team (those who are supportive of your aspirations and goals)
  • Determining what plays need to be executed (setting daily tasks that will help you overcome any obstacles along the way or increase your skill level),
  • Maintain a healthy diet (eating nutritious food that will give you the strength to work towards your goals).

Here’s a list of simple tips that will help you improve self-discipline:

  1. Understand the reason for your lack of self discipline
  2. Know what you want to achieve
  3. Avoid Temptation
  4. Have self compassion
  5. Don’t neglect self-care
  6. Remind yourself of your “Why” 
  7. Don’t rely on motivation alone
  8. Embrace discomfort
  9. Be mindful
  10. Forgive yourself and keep going

(1) Understand the reason for your lack of self discipline

The first step to improving self-discipline is understanding why you struggle with self-discipline in the first place and how our brains work against us when we try to change our habits.

The reasons why you may lack self-discipline include:

  • Being easily distracted
  • Acting on impulse or reacting emotionally to a situation rather than thinking it over rationally.
  • Not having enough clear goals.
  • An inability to manage time effectively.
  • A lack of awareness around one’s own behavior and how it may affect others.
  • Perfectionism.

Once you understand your weaknesses you can create an action plan for improving self-discipline using the right motivation techniques.

It might be intimidating at first but just start with one habit that you want to form or break. Start small and make it easy to achieve.

Build that habit until it becomes part of your daily routine then move onto the next one.

Read also: Why are habits more important than inspiration.

Discover the best tips to increase your success.
"In order to master anything you must first understand it." - Bruce Lee

(2) Know what you want to achieve to improve self discipline

Before you can begin working on improving your self-discipline, you need to know what goals or changes you are trying to make.

It’s important that the goals you set are specific and measurable so it’s easier for you to stay on track towards achieving them.

In fact, to improve self discipline it’s crucial to always have a purpose for each day. Wake up with this goal so that it’ll drive you.

For instance, start each day by setting three specific, measurable goals. Then, work on creating routines to help you achieve them.

(3) Avoid Temptation to improve self discipline

One of the biggest challenges you face when trying to develop self-discipline is overcoming your own impulses. 

When you are tempted towards an action that sabotages your best interests, it’s important to know what tricks and techniques can help you resist those temptations.

For example, if you are trying to quit smoking cigarettes, it’s important that you avoid temptation by not keeping them in your home. Bring your own lunch to work instead of stopping for fast food on your way there.

To improve self-discipline create an action plan for change that includes how you will deal with any temptations that may arise along the way.

Read more on avoid temptation and achieving behavioral change: Unlocking behavioral change with the transtheoretical approach. 

(4) To improve self discipline have self-compassion

Having self-compassion is just as important as improving self-discipline. When you feel overwhelmed by your goals, remember it’s okay to take a break.

When you find yourself struggling with self-discipline, remember that everyone has moments of weakness. In fact, developing a lasting habit takes lot’s of time and energy. It’s what you do after that matters.

Developing self-discipline is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re struggling with change, remind yourself why it’s important to follow through on your goals and what you hope to accomplish down the road.

Remind yourself that sacrifices today will lead to a better life tomorrow.

(5) To improve self-discipline, don’t ignore self-care

I’ve got three words for you—sleep, diet, and exercise. By now, studies are clear, and the research is undeniable.

Getting an adequate amount of sleep, eating healthy, and increasing your physical activity are vital for boosting energy levels, improving moods and memory, and reducing stress. We know this.

Here’s what’s recommended: 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly. Also, reduce sitting time and add muscle strength activity at least twice per week.

The intensity and duration of physical activity should increase with time (NHS, 2019).  However, don’t forget that healthy adults also need at least 7 hours of sleep daily.

Why not take advantage of these benefits -and more- by just committing to these simple changes in our daily routine?

Optimize your potential for success by implementing this healthy habit in your life today! Just think of it this way, now you get to be successful and feel pretty damn good while you’re at it.

Read more on physical self-care techniques to practice daily.

Learn the best tips to improve self discipline
"Discipline is the difference between goals and accomplishments." - Jim Rohn

(6) Remind yourself of “Why” self discipline is vital

An older man once had a life long battle with the habit of smoking. He tried multiple times to quit, even enrolled himself in an expensive rehab facility at one point but to no avail.

In fact, he loved smoking so much that not even life-threatening health complications could make him stop.

It wasn’t until the birth of his precious granddaughter, whom he wasn’t allowed to see since his toxic habit made her asthma worse, that he decided to quit once and for all.

How did he do it, you ask?

Ok, here’s the secret. He put a photo of his granddaughter in his wallet and carried it wherever he went. Each time he felt the urge to take a smoke, he’d take another look at his beautiful princess.

This constant reminder of why he needed to quit smoking kept him going one day at a time until he finally got to spend quality time with the new love of his life.

To improve self discipline remind yourself of why you’re making that daily sacrifice. Keep your eye on your prize and watch your dreams come through.

(7) Don’t rely on motivation to improve self discipline

It’ll definitely be great to always have that unwavering drive to move forward. There’s nothing quite like feeling that we’re doing the right thing to keep us going.

Unfortunately, as the world we live in has ever-changing seasons, we are not always in the mood to do what it takes to accomplish our goal. And, it is in that very moment that we allow ourselves to fall off-course.

Davies (2020) describes self-discipline as taking action despite how you feel, which means that it will be that driving force that propels you to victory even when you don’t “feel” like it.

Don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning? That’s ok. You don’t need to sense the urge anymore, for you to have a successful day.

Instead, be fueled by the discipline that compels you to be responsible for the day’s successes. That’s all you need to get you going.

Extensive research shows that being self-disciplined often trumps talent when it comes to predicting success (Duckworth & Seligman, 2017). 

Read also: 36 personality traits to become successful people

(8) Embrace discomfort to improve self discipline

The most successful people often disclose that their journey to their most significant achievements is laden with disappointment and setbacks.

Do you honestly think that your experience will be much different? If there is one thing of which I am confident, it’s that difficult times will come.

They will push you, time and again, beyond your comfort zone. Be assured that you will not learn the skills needed to tackle new challenges by residing in a familiar place.

Explore new territories. Accept new challenges. You may not be good at it today, but you’ll surely be much better at it tomorrow. Embrace the discomfort that life sometimes sends your way, learn what you must, and be an overcomer.

(9) Be Mindful to improve self discipline

Recently, the concept of mindfulness has been taking the world by storm. Studies have shown that being aware, present, and engaged while focusing on your breathing helps regulate emotions and improve our mood and decision-making. 

Many organizations, including fortune 500 companies, are taking advantage of the benefits that mindfulness offers, including significant productivity increases. 

Now I dare to say that if it’s good enough for the elite, then it will indeed work for the rest of us. We need to take active steps to protect our mental health.

Would you prefer going through your day feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and distracted, or relaxed, engaged, and productive? Today, the choice is yours.Practice mindfulness to protect your mental health

Use this link to discover 16 proven strategies to cope with difficult situations.

(10) Forgive yourself and keep going to improve self discipline

More often than not, we are our own harshest critics. It sure would be awesome to be perfect at everything we do, but living in a world full of imperfections will kill that buzz every time.

Guilt and shame are among the feelings we experience if we fail or make mistakes, but I urge you to implement a new way of thinking. 

Mistakes are the stepping stones for success for those who dare to learn from them. Waste no more time wallowing in self-pity.

Instead, use your time effectively, make mistakes, forgive yourself. Learn what you must. Be better and move on to your subsequent victory.

self Discipline 2
"The supreme act of forgiveness is when you can forgive yourself for all the wounds you’ve created in your own life. Forgiveness is an act of self-love." - Miguel Ángel Ruiz Macías

Why is self-discipline important for success?

Self-discipline is essential for success in any field. It is the ability to make yourself do what you need to do, even when you don’t feel like it. It is the ability to stay focused and avoid distractions. 

As such, without self-discipline, it is very difficult to achieve anything. In fact, even if you have talent and intelligence, without self-discipline you’ll likely not achieve your full potential. Read more on why self-discipline is important for success. 

Final words on improving self-discipline

Self-discipline is key to success in any field.

It allows you to focus on your goals and maintain your motivation despite setbacks.

Fortunately, anyone can develop self-discipline with a little effort, practice, and patience.

What strategies have you found helpful for improving your self-discipline? Comment below and let us know.

Related topics

What qualities are required of success?

Many qualities have been associated with success, including a positive attitude, confidence, focus, determination, and perseverance. 

However, not all successful people share the same qualities. Some may be naturally gifted with talent or good fortune, while others may have worked hard to overcome difficult circumstances.

The one quality that most successful people share is a willingness to take risks. Without taking risks, it is impossible to achieve anything great.

Successful people are not afraid to fail. Instead, they view failure as a learning opportunity. They are always looking for ways to improve and grow. And, they are willing to put in the work necessary to achieve their goals. 

By being open to new opportunities and willing to take risks, successful people create their own luck and pave their own path to success. Read more tips here.

How can I overcome self-blame?

Too often, people who have been hurt by someone else’s actions or words blame themselves. They think that if they had only done something differently, the outcome would have been different.

This kind of thinking is not only harmful to your mental and emotional health, but it can also prevent you from taking the necessary steps to protect yourself in the future. 

If you find yourself blaming yourself for something that wasn’t your fault, here are a few things that might help: Read more on the steps to overcome self-blame


Duckworth, A. L., & Seligman, M. (2017). The Science and Practice of Self-ControlPerspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science12(5), 715–718.

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