15 Effective Ways To Develop Self-Discipline

February 4, 2019 productievekennis 9 min read 3 Comments
Image of Jocko Willink: Develop Self-Discipline.

15 Effective Ways To Develop Self-Discipline

February 4, 2019 WhatDisciplineMeans 9 min read 3 Comments

Self-discipline is the art of the ability to control your feelings and overcome your weaknesses. In this article I will share 15 effective ways to develop self-discipline and show you how you can work towards the mastery of the art.

1. Be aware of what self-discipline is.

Before you go on the journey to develop self-discipline you should be aware of what self-discipline actually is. And how challenging it can be.

Self-discipline is the art of the ability to control your feelings and overcome your weaknesses. Developing self-discipline will not be easy. But it will be worth it.

Overcoming the feeling of not doing something is an ability that you have to train. Day in, day out. There is no easy way. There is no shortcut. To develop self-discipline you need to be consistent and on a relentless pursuit of progression.

2. Know your why

Before you start to do anything, you should know your why. For us humans it is not enough to know what we do and how we do it. We are most motivated by our reasons why we do the things we do.

So, before you start your mission to be developing your self-discipline day in day out, know your why. Why is it important for you that you develop self-discipline? What will happen if you do not develop self-discipline?

Image of knowing your why.

3. Visualize what will change. Think long-term.

Visualization is a powerful tool and can be a great source of motivation. Try to visualize what will change in your life when you develop self-discipline.

Think long-term and visualize all the good things that can happen. See yourself waking up early, being focused, working hard on your goals and achieving them, being a role-model for the people around you and most of all: being in control of your own life and circumstances.

4. Create a plan

If you have used the past two ways (knowing your why and visualization) the next step is to create a plan. How are you going to achieve the goals? Why is it important that you do achieve them?

Image of a journal.

You have visualized the long-term things that can change when you develop self-discipline. The only thing you have to do now is to create a plan by working backwards. Look at your end-goals and break them down into steps. Work on these steps. Achieve those goals.

Do not write the plan down in a perfectionistic way. You can always change the plan and adjust it to your current situation. Just make sure you keep your end-goal in sight. Visualize what will change if you keep working on your self-discipline. And when you do feel unmotivated, remember why you started this journey towards the mastery of self-discipline.

5. Do something you hate every day.

Want to know the quickest way to develop self-discipline? Well, just start doing something that you hate every day.

When you get used to doing something that you hate it will put a lot of other things into perspective. The small, boring tasks that you usually despise get a lot easier. Why? Because you are getting used to doing other things that you hate which are way more intense.

Start stepping out of your comfort zone daily. Do things that you hate or fear. It will be the quickest way to becoming self-disciplined.

6. Start your day with a cold shower.

A nice follow-up to the previous one. Starting your day with a cold shower is not that comfortable and will challenge your self-discipline. However, it is a great way to start the day.

When you start off your day with doing something uncomfortable it sets the tone for the day. Besides that, cold showers have a lot of other benefits:
-It increases your alertness;
-Improves immunity and circulation;
-Speeds up muscle soreness and recovery;
-Relieves depression.

Image of Wim Hof bathing in a frozen lake.

7. Remove bad temptations/habits.

Take a critical look at your life and write all the bad temptations and habits down that you do have. Write down all the things you come across for a few days. When you have made your list, do not be demotivated by it.

Having a list of your bad temptations and habits gives you great insight and increases your awareness. You got work to do. And that is the great thing about it, because you are in the position to change it.

Split your list up by putting the bad temptations and habits into different categories. You can, for example, split them up in: work, health, relationships, finances, etc.

Once you have made a list and categorized it, it is time to get to work. Start with the small things which you can change immediately. Do not go to the next thing until you are sure that you changed the current bad temptation or habit permanently. Repeat.

8. Create new habits

In the previous paragraph we covered how to remove bad temptations and habits. Which is a bit similar to creating new habits. However, you would leave a lot on the table if you do not create entirely new habits.

We have all been there. We get inspired and motivated by something and want to start doing it. We want to make it a habit. But sooner or later the inspiration and motivation disappear. And from that point on the only thing that keeps you going is self-discipline.

Image of a morning run.

Do you want something that challenges your self-discipline? Try to create a new habit and stay consistent. There will be a point in time where you do not feel like doing the thing (habit) that you have been doing for ages. Guess what? You still need to do it so you do not lose momentum. And you need to do it with the same intensity. Or even more to prove yourself that you can do things even when you do not feel like it.

Doing things over and over again, even if you do not feel like it, will develop self-discipline. And it will not only develop self-discipline, it will also create habits and long-lasting momentum.

9. Have a consistent and challenging morning routine

A morning routine is one of the most effective ways to become more productive and develop self-discipline.

As I wrote in my article ”Five Ways To Improve Your Morning Routine”:
“The morning is an important and sensitive time of the day, because it sets the tone and it also affects your mood for the rest of the day. If you start your day off in a chaotic and unproductive manner it will have a negative effect on the rest of your day. If you start your day off in an orderly and productive manner it will boost your mood and productivity for the rest of the day. “

Create a morning routine that challenges you to be productive and develop self-discipline at the same time. Implement things like: cold showers, reading sessions, working on your most important project, physical activity, etc.

10. Time management

We put a lot of limitations on ourselves by saying we do not have enough time. Or that we are too busy. Most of the time people are not too busy. They are too unaware of how much time they waste.

Image of an hourglass.

Grab your pen and paper out again. Track the time you put into things for an entire week. Track everything, even the small things.

Now, at the end of the week, take a look at your list. Where did you really waste time? Change that.

Checking your phone first thing in the morning and suddenly it is 20 minutes later, and you wasted away your morning routine? No more checking your phone first thing in the morning.

You get the point. Erase the things that are wasting too much time. At the same time, try to find out if there are things who really do need time, but you are not doing efficient enough. Look for ways to do them more efficiently.

11. Eat healthy

Eating healthy asks a lot of your self-discipline. Even when your diet is in check, there are still a lot of lingering opportunities to eat something unhealthy.

Balance is of course important, but people who say they do things for ‘balance’ all the time, usually get out of balance. So, get on a diet that provides you with healthy foods and be consistent.

Your environment might throw a lot of challenges at your self-discipline. You just need to remember that our bodies turn food into useful energy. If you eat the right foods, you will get a lot of useful energy. If you eat the wrong foods, you won’t.

12. Sleep and rest well

Your sleep should be one of your biggest priorities. If you do not sleep enough you will function less efficient. Besides that, you will lose a lot of willpower. And guess what? Working on your self-disciplines asks you to deploy willpower quite often.

Image of different phases of the moon.

Not only sleep is a big priority. Resting should be one as well. When you are constantly on the go and working on your self-discipline your body and mind sometimes need a break too. This does not have to be a huge thing. It can be as simple as putting your feet on your desk for a few minutes, having a nice drink at night or a warm bath.

Sleeping and resting well is a great tool to develop self-discipline because of two things:
1. It takes discipline to stick to a sleep routine and prioritize the optimization of your sleep.
2. It takes discipline to do things that will help you to rest during the day, but at the same time do not mess with your goals.

13. Track your progress

To develop self-discipline you need to know where you are and where you are working towards. Track your progress. Write down what things you applied to develop your self-discipline further.

Reflect on what you applied. What did work? What did not work? By tracking your progress and reflecting on it you can optimize the development of your self-discipline.

14. Reward yourself

Developing self-discipline is like creating a new habit of challenging yourself to be better every single day. Creating habits is a hard thing. Changing your lifestyle from being not disciplined to being self-disciplined is a challenge.

Our brains create habits based on a loop (formula). Que > Routine > Reward. To develop self-discipline, you need to do a lot of uncomfortable things. That makes it wise to reward yourself every now and then for all the hard work. Do not go overboard of course. Give yourself small, meaningful rewards that do not mess with your goals.

Image of The Habit Loop.

If you want to learn more on how to create new habits you can check out the next article I wrote about it: How To Create New Habits in 2019.

15. Surround yourself with self-disciplined people

You have probably heard this phrase before: ”You are the average of the five people who you spend your time with the most”. There is a reason that you have probably heard that phrase before, because it is true.

If the five people who you spent your time with the most are lazy and only eat unhealthy, you will be the sixth. If the five people are always negative and do not bring joy to the people around them, you will be the sixth. If the five people never improve themselves and are still in the same spot as a year ago, you will be the sixth.

To develop self-discipline, you need to be around self-disciplined people. Surround yourself with people who are way ahead of you. Their lifestyle will impact yours. However, once you become more self-disciplined you need to stay humble and lift others up as well.

Develop self-discipline

Self-discipline is one of the most challenging qualities to develop. Which makes it totally worth it. Because with great challenge comes great reward.

Start your journey of mastering the art of self-discipline. Do not wait. Do not overcomplicate. Just start. Develop self-discipline by applying the 15 effective ways described in this article and keep hammering at it.

  1. Be aware of what self-discipline is.
  2. Know your why.
  3. Visualize what will change. Think long-term.
  4. Create a plan.
  5. Do something you hate every day.
  6. Start your day with a cold shower.
  7. Remove bad temptations/habits.
  8. Create new habits.
  9. Have a consistent and challenging morning routine.
  10. Time management.
  11. Eat healthy.
  12. Sleep and rest well.
  13. Track your progress.
  14. Reward yourself.
  15. Surround yourself with self-disciplined people.
Image of Jocko Willink: Get After It.


  • […] 15 Effective Ways To Develop Self-Discipline […]

  • Marcello Antonio Dreier April 8, 2019 at 8:47 am

    Great Blog Post!

    A lot of good stuff here.

    Self-Discipline = Freedom


    • WhatDisciplineMeans April 8, 2019 at 2:49 pm

      Indeed! Thanks for your reply and have a productive week :)!

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