How to Build Self-Discipline: Cultivating Personal Strength

Developing self-discipline is a transformative journey that enhances every aspect of one’s life. How to build self-discipline requires establishing a routine of deliberate practices performed consistently. This guide provides practical steps to strengthen your self-discipline, paving the way for progress, achievement, and, ultimately, freedom.

Discipline is a skill

Discipline is a skill like anything else. We must learn, practice, evaluate, and continue this loop in order to get better and make progress. Discipline is something that will never fail us. And if we commit to it and follow it, it leads us to freedom in every aspect of our lives that it is applied.

How To Develop Self-Discipline: Understanding the Foundations

The first step in understanding how to develop self-discipline is recognizing its foundation in self-awareness and goal-setting and that it is the precursor to a better life. Knowing your strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies is crucial. Clearly defined goals provide direction and a sense of purpose, making self-discipline more attainable.

Setting Realistic Goals

Start by setting attainable, realistic goals. What is the goal you want to achieve? Write it down and put it in a visible place (or multiple places) to serve as a visual cue. Break the goal down into smaller, manageable tasks to help you stay on the path. Taking this iterative approach keeps things simple and minimizes distraction and complications, so it is more feasible to stay consistent.

Developing Daily Habits and Routines

Achieving a goal does not happen in one day. Consistency is key in how to improve self-discipline. Establishing daily habits and routines creates a structured environment conducive to discipline. Start with small habits and gradually build upon them. By doing these things and consistently executing them, real progress is made.

Creating a Structured Environment

Organize your environment to minimize distractions and temptations. A well-ordered environment can significantly enhance focus and self-control. An example of this is laying out your workout clothes the night before. When you wake up, all you have to do is change, and you are ready to get after it. Creating this structure eliminates having to make another decision, lowers stress and the likelihood that a workout happens is higher.

Discipline and Decision-Making

Discipline is a lot like a muscle; it strengthens with use and atrophies if not used. By utilizing discipline, decision-making becomes easier because of the established plans, routines, and habits already in practice. Having to make fewer decisions lowers stress, minimizes anxiety, and opens space for more positive things.

Overcoming Barriers

There are a number of barriers to self-discipline. Lack of time, lack of energy – the number of excuses are seemingly endless. Tackle these by understanding the root causes, such as fear of failure or lack of interest, and address them head-on.

Recognizing the difference between desire and commitment is also important. We can desire to do a lot of things – complete a triathlon, speak a different language, learn to play guitar but discipline to achieve these goals is crucial. The commitment to learning to play guitar requires discipline – to purchase a guitar, to sign up for lessons, to practice regularly, to learn how to read music, and to challenge yourself to get to the next level. If committed to a goal, the discipline necessary to achieve it is easier to instill.

Leveraging Support Systems and Resources

Don’t go it alone. Leverage support systems like friends, family, or mentors. Sharing your goals and progress can provide accountability and encouragement, and trying to do it all on your own is not necessary. Join a gym or running club, volunteer at a church – find ways to achieve your goals with other people. This will not always be the case and with some goals, it is solely on you to make it happen. However, utilizing support systems is a great way to stay focused.

Seeking Inspirational Resources

Read books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos that inspire and teach self-discipline. Learning from others’ experiences can provide valuable insights and motivation. And while these are important things and can serve a purpose at different points, it is necessary to be mindful of how much reliance is being placed on motivation.

Motivation is fleeting. It does not last forever. After watching Rocky, it is easy to grab a jump rope, climb stairs, and chug raw eggs…on Day 1. When it gets to Day 3, Day 5, the motivation has worn off and the only way to stay on that path is through discipline. Discipline will not let you down. It will be there for you every time and is the root of all good qualities.

Monitoring Progress and Adjusting Strategies

Regularly review your progress. It is important to reflect on what’s working and what’s not so that strategies are adjusted accordingly, routines are fine-tuned, habits are refined, and commitment does not waver. This reflection is crucial in understanding how to have more self-discipline.

Celebrating Small Wins

Acknowledge and celebrate your successes, no matter how small. This recognition reinforces positive behavior and keeps you on the path. Progress towards a goal will not be achieved in one sitting or in one day, and recognizing these wins is a big component of consistent effort.

Embracing Challenges as Opportunities

View challenges as opportunities to strengthen your self-discipline. There will be no shortage of these on a quest to achieve any goal that is worthwhile. Challenges are life’s way of testing us. How much do we want to achieve the goal? What are we willing to do to accomplish it? How much discipline are we willing to enact to get there? The pursuit of a goal is never perfect, and the obstacles faced, when overcome, are a step closer to your goals. There are no shortcuts, no hacks, there is no easy way to get there when it comes to achieving goals. It comes down to discipline, and that discipline will be rewarded.

Practicing Self-Compassion

There will be setbacks – this is a part of the journey for every person on the planet. Understanding this and practicing self-compassion is important to maintaining a focus on the goal. Self-discipline also doesn’t mean being harsh or unforgiving. Be kind to yourself during the process, and when you have a bad day or things veer off the tracks, appreciate it will not last forever. Keep in mind not everything in life has to be taken so seriously. Laugh it off, enjoy time with friends or family, journal. Find something that helps to move past the setback and re-engage on the path.


Remind yourself of the benefits that self-discipline brings to your life, and keep pushing forward. You are both the General and the soldier, the Coach and the player in your own life. You are the one making you do the task, and that is a powerful position to be in. Use it to your advantage. It will only help you be tougher, stronger, more confident, more resilient, better able to manage challenges and solve problems and ultimately, that determination will set you on the path to success.


In summary, how to build self-discipline is a journey of personal growth that involves setting clear goals and committing to them, developing consistent habits, understanding the value of self-discipline, leveraging support, and monitoring progress. By following these steps and embracing the process, you can develop a stronger sense of self-discipline, leading to greater success and fulfillment in achieving the freedoms that are sought. Check out our course on Discipline at the Extreme Ownership Academy.

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