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9 Ways to Practice Self-Discipline: The Self-Care Tool You’re Probably Overlooking

Discipline isn’t a subject that invokes a lot of warm fuzzies. If you’re anything like me, when you hear the word you think back to a time in your youth spent in the principal’s office or in trouble at home. But self-discipline is an essential part of self-care and paramount to attaining your life goals.

If you read that and thought, “uh-oh, that sounds tedious,” then stick with me just for a moment, this article is for you.

In a world of instant gratification, the idea of staying focused and disciplined in the name of self-care might seem strange. But self-discipline is the ultimate form of self-care. It’s saying you love yourself enough to do the hard things so you can get the life that you want.


What Is Self-Discipline?

Self-discipline is all about managing yourself and prioritizing your life. It keeps your behaviors, thoughts, and emotions in check so you can achieve your goals. It involves forgoing temporary pleasures while you work towards something greater and more satisfying.

Self-discipline grows perseverance, inner strength and confidence.

Self-discipline is a habit, and something that can be cultivated. It grows perseverance, inner strength and confidence. Self-discipline keeps temptations in check and helps you to be your greatest self.

Why Self-Discipline Is So Important In Life

Self-Discipline is key to meeting life goals. It keeps you on task, helps you form good habits, and break bad ones. Self-discipline shifts your perspective and keeps you focused on the future rather than the day-to-day mundane.

Motivation and excitement quickly fade. Think about all the New Year’s Resolutions that die before February. Self-discipline helps you to persevere even in moments when your enthusiasm is gone.

Choosing easy doesn’t get you the life you want.

There’s no way around it, self-discipline is hard! And no one really likes to do the hard things in life. Given the chance, we will almost always choose the easy path with less resistance. But choosing easy doesn’t get you the life you want. The secret to success is to have a plan in place to make sure you do the hard things of self-discipline, whether you feel up to it or not.

If you’re not sure where to start, or how to build a self-disciplined life, then read on for some easy to implement steps.

Develop the Self-Discipline Habit With These 9 Powerful Tools:


1. Keep a Consistent Schedule

Keeping a consistent schedule is one of the first steps to starting a life of self-discipline. Set a bedtime and wake-up time and stick with it . . . even on the weekends.

That might not sound like fun, and there can obviously be exceptions to the rule for special events or circumstances. But maintaining your circadian rhythm is vital to both your overall health and your ability to self-regulate.

If you struggle with falling asleep try starting a ritual to help trigger your body to know that sleep is coming.

2. Start Your Day with Something That Motivates You

Nothing zaps your self-motivation like waking up to do something you hate. Start you day off with something that motivates you instead. That could be exercise, journaling, spending a few minutes in meditation or prayer, or anything else that gets you motivated for your day.

Make your first hour of the day count, and you’ll feel more energized and ready to tackle the rest of your day.

Not sure of the best way to start your mornings? This Is Your Best Morning Routine, Broken Into 5 Fun Steps

3. Remove Distractions

What distracts you? Your phone, social media, relationships, the news, food, shopping? All of these have their place in your life, but without boundaries they can be distracting. Do you really need to try that level of Candy Crush one more time?

Set app limits on your phone, use timers, and block uninterrupted time in your schedule to help remove distraction so you can focus on what matters.


4. Surround Yourself With Other Self-Disciplined People

Who are the main people in your life? Are they disciplined, and do they inspire you and encourage you towards your goals? If they don’t, then it’s time to find new people.

This may mean new friends, finding a new job, or even setting boundaries with your family. Find others who match your values and goals, and you’ll feel more confident, positive, and inspired to stay on track.

5. Find Your Why

One of the main reasons we lack self-discipline is because we are unclear of our “why” or focus in life. Finding your focus will lead to a greater sense of purpose. Having this purpose helps you to stay disciplined in day-to-day life and focused on what is really important. Find your “why” and let it become the driving force behind your actions and choices.

6. Identify Areas of Weakness

We don’t need to grow self-discipline in areas where we already excel. We need it to help us in our areas of weakness or struggle. Do some soul searching and look for things in your life that you just can’t seem to say no to even though you know it’s not what’s in your best interest.

Common ones are binge watching tv every night, compulsive use of your phone or social media, lack of time management, money management, healthy habits, eating habits, or even emotional regulation.

7. Get Clear About Your Goals

Once you identify your focus and areas where you don’t have much self-regulation, it’s time to get specific and set up some goals. Spend some time here and write out specific goals that are within reach.

Your goals should be positive, specific, use I language, and phrased as if you have already achieved it. Then write daily actions or steps to support each goal. Focus here on small actions that you can consistently implement, rather than huge items that seem daunting.

Here’s an example of a goal and action item if you’re working on developing some self-discipline around the habit of reading. Goal: I am a voracious reader. Action item: four days a week I will read for twenty minutes before bed.

Does setting goals seem overwhelming? Learn how to shift your perspective. Read This One Small Shift Will Help You Achieve Your Goals Quicker and Actually Enjoy the Process (From a Life Coach)

8. Set Up Positive Rewards

Set up positive rewards for yourself and before you know it you’ll be reaching your goals. You want rewards that matter and that relate directly back to developing self-discipline. Having another Netflix and Chill day isn’t a great reward if you’re trying to implement self-discipline around sticking to a set bedtime and morning routine.

Self-discipline is the ultimate form of self-care.

Find something positive that builds on your success and use that as a reward for staying self-disciplined. Start small with your rewards and let them grow as your self-discipline blooms.

As an example, after two weeks of staying on a set bedtime and morning schedule, get yourself a pair of comfortable pj’s that you can’t wait to get into at night. After a month splurge on a set of luxurious sheets. The best rewards are ones that motivate you and enrich your life.

9. Forgive Yourself When You Fail

Life happens. Even with the best of intentions and a specific plan, we will all miss the mark sometimes. When you do fall short, it’s important to acknowledge it, forgive yourself, and move forward. Assess what happened and see if you need to revise your goals, rewards, or action items so it doesn’t happen again. Stay positive and get right back to it. You’ve got this!

Difficult Roads Lead to Beautiful Destinations: Self-Discipline Is One of Them!

Self-discipline isn’t about having unwavering will power. It’s not about filling your day up with so much that you’re exhausted. It’s about setting yourself up for success for times when you know your willpower isn’t enough. Obstacles and distractions will be a part of life. But self-discipline will keep you on the path towards the life you want.

Self-care is important to finding balance in your life. But you can’t self-care yourself to the life you want without adding in self-discipline to make sure you tackle the hard stuff too.

As Zig Ziglar said, “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. The best is yet to come.” Change your view on self-disciple to see it as the ultimate form of self-care and watch as your life transforms.

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Tonya Wetzel

Tonya is a 200hr RYT based in Coastal Mississippi. She loves that she gets to share the joy and healing that yoga brought to her life. In addition to teaching yoga, she flips houses with her husband. Tonya is a travel enthusiast who loves the outdoors and adventure. You'll find her at the local beach, volunteering at the animal shelter, and playing with her forever and foster dogs.

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