Need More Self-Discipline?

Is self-discipline an area that you need to improve in? If so then hopefully the following tips and advice will help you get to grips with this skill which often challenges people!

Self-discipline is definitely something I am focused on at the moment! As someone who has recently started to undertake formal study again (for the Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement) I am having to be very self-disciplined.

Each day we have choices to make. Wake up early and do some early morning exercise, or get an extra hour of sleep? Pack a healthy lunch to take to work, or buy something at lunchtime? Throw a little extra money in your savings account, or buy that new gadget or pair of shoes you’ve been thinking about all month?

Deep down inside, we know which actions will yield the best results. Yet many of us struggle with making the best decisions. How do we overcome these challenges? Self-discipline is the answer.

Why Is Self-Discipline Important?

If you want to be successful and reach your goals, self-discipline is the most crucial skill to master. Frequently, the best choices aren’t the fastest, easiest, or most pleasant. So you must exercise a high level of control over your emotions and behaviour. Improving your ability to do what is best for you regardless of initial desire is the only way to make consistent progress in life. As such, if self-discipline is your foundational skill, you grow more effective in everything you do.

The Benefits Of Self-Discipline

When you develop a stronger sense of self-control, you can expect multiple improvements across many areas of your life. Here are just a few benefits of self-discipline.

1- Improved Health

First, improving your self-discipline leads to improved physical health. Exercising control over the quality and quantity of food you consume, establishing a regular fitness routine, and drinking enough water help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your chances of illness and disease, and increase your chances of longevity and vitality later in life.

 2- Greater Academic and Career Success

Next, self-discipline helps you make choices that can lead to higher academic and career success. Sometimes you must choose between studying longer hours and spending time out with friends, or staying late after work to complete a project and heading home to relax. Self-discipline helps you see the value of delayed gratification, which pays off down the line.

3- Better Relationships

Third, self-discipline improves your relationships because you become a person who follows through on your commitments. People in your life learn they can trust you to do what you say you will, and they view you more favorably.

4- Better Financial Health

Next, gaining better control over your finances is another direct benefit of self-discipline. While it’s more fun to spend money than it is to save, the disciplined individual sees the long-term benefit of putting money away for a rainy day. That’s not to say you pinch pennies and sacrifice quality of life. Self-discipline isn’t supposed to make you miserable. Instead, it’s about weighing the pros and cons and making decisions that bring you closer to your goals.

Examples of financial self-discipline that don’t require total restriction include regularly putting a certain percentage of each paycheck into your savings account or sticking to a budget that allocates a certain amount of money each month for discretionary spending. You still get to enjoy the present, though, not at the expense of your future.

5- Fewer Regrets

Another benefit of growing more self-disciplined is that you’ll have fewer regrets because you make better choices in the first place.

You’ll eliminate such problems as saying the wrong thing at the wrong time because you’re disciplined enough to think before speaking.

You’ll avoid jumping to conclusions, give yourself time to gather information before making decisions, and make choices based on facts rather than emotion or opinion.

6- Improved Time Management

With an ever-growing list of things vying for our attention, it seems that time is often in short supply. One of the best benefits of self-discipline is improved management of your time.

For example, social media can be the ultimate time-killer if you don’t exercise self-control. While it can be useful at times, you can easily fall into the trap of mindlessly scrolling through news feeds when you could be completing other tasks.

7- See Projects Through To The End

Finally, self-discipline helps you complete tasks and projects that you start, even when you lose steam or desire. Motivation is always high at the beginning of a new goal. Whether it’s a new diet plan, a new business idea, or even new relationships to a certain degree, when things are fresh, there is nothing but excitement and stimulation ahead.

Yet over time, motivation fades, challenges arise, reality sets in, and its tempting to go back to something more familiar or move on to the next shiny object.

Exercising self-control and choosing to finish what you start, within reason, even when you lose motivation and desire means you not only have the finished project under your belt, but you’ve learned lessons and acquired skills you wouldn’t have had you quit.


As the American writer, philosopher and artist, Elbert Hubbard once said, “Self-discipline is the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.”

Understanding the importance of self-discipline, then taking steps to improve this most critical skill is perhaps the best thing you can do for your personal development and likelihood of lifetime success.

Discovering Those Learning Moments

Ever since my friend Ady Howes asked a question on Twitter under the hashtag #LoveCPD the role of reflection as part of our learning process has been very much at the forefront of my mind. It’s for that reason that I have interrupted my planned series of posts and want to reflect on reflective practice or discovering our learning moments.

Nowadays there is a great deal of emphasis placed on being our best self. Some of the techniques for accomplishing this are thousands of years old; they just have a new name. Reflective practice is the new term for the ancient process of trying to “know yourself” in order to transform your life through positive change.

The word reflective refers to reflection, or thinking about, certain areas of your life or events in your life and how they turned out. As the event is reflected upon, you are able to explore it in greater depth in order to learn lessons from your experience. As a result of what you learn, you can develop goals to improve your skills in that particular area and follow through with action steps to achieve your goals.

If you’ve been feeling “stuck” in your career or personal life, reflective practice could just be what you’re looking for to transform your life. Let’s look at how to get started.

Starting Reflective Practice

A good starting point is to keep a diary or journal. A small notebook that can be carried with you and/or a folder on your computer with various files you create can all help.

Next, it is important to understand the process of reflection in reflective practice. Reflection is an active process of observing your own experiences in order to evaluate how you were able to handle certain events or occurrences in your life. It is not intended to make you feel bad or beat yourself up over what did or didn’t happen. For each event you wish to explore, simply evaluate the situation in a calm manner to learn from it.

Some events will not require a great deal of analysis. Others might be worth digging deeper because you might spot a pattern or problem you weren’t aware of before.

Learning from Past Actions

A lot of us can be negative and pessimistic. Our negative self-talk tells us we are a “loser” or failure. Reflective practice can help transform you into a winner by cutting the cord of negativity and setting you on a path to personal transformation.

The secret of successful reflective practice is to learn how to look at your actions and experiences without being quick to judge them. It also means taking the time to examine them – rather than just rush to the next thing on your to-do list without learning any lessons from what you’ve said, accomplished, or tried to do.

Through examination, we learn more about ourselves, and in that process of learning, we open ourselves up to a range of new possibilities. Through learning from experience, we can become even more successful in our personal and professional lives.

Learning Moments

We’ve all done it. Repeated the same mistake at least twice. Had a “disaster” in terms of our work life or personal life, such as the loss of a job or the (bad) breakup of a relationship. When this happens, have you:

  1. Stuck your head in the sand and just ignored what was happening?
  2. Blamed others for what happened?
  3. Or did you sit down to reflect on what happened to see what lessons you could learn from it?

Chances are that like many others, you’ve done 1 and 2 most of the time up until this point in your life. With reflective practice, it is time to begin doing #3 regularly.

You can start small and then work your way up to the bigger issues as and when you need to. You can start your journal with something that happened today in your work or personal life, and reflect on how it went.

For example, did you have to give a PowerPoint presentation at a meeting today? How did it go? Were you prepared? Were there any technical or other issues that cropped up? If so, how did you handle them?

Maybe you talked to a family member on the phone and things got a little out of hand. What happened? Were there any things you could have done or said differently?

We hate it when things don’t go well at work or we argue with the people we care about. Often, though, these are some of the best “learning moments” that can highlight areas of our life we need to work on in order to be our best self. Once you have evaluated the event, think about what lessons you’ve learned and how you can do better next time.

In relation to the presentation, it might be:

  • Get to the room earlier to set up better
  • Conduct a practice run using the equipment to avoid technical glitches
  • Make the lettering on the slides bigger so everyone at the back could also see clearly

In relation to the phone call with the family member:

  • Don’t mention topic X
  • Avoid the blame game
  • Change the subject if they start going on at you about Y or Z
  • Remind them you are an adult and while you appreciate their input and caring, you’ve already discussed the issue at least once and don’t need to again.

These are just a few examples. You should be able to come up with many of your own, relevant to your personal circumstances, once you start on the path of reflective practice.

In subsequent posts I will delve a little deeper into this.