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Define Self-Discipline

When it comes to finding the appropriate path to success, self discipline is one of the most frequently-used terms. Unfortunately, the majority of people don’t define self-discipline the same way. For some, self-discipline has to do with their ability to avoid laziness. For others, the self-discipline definition means challenging themselves to go above their regular expectations to achieve their goals. But self-discipline is much more than this, and knowing exactly what it is, and what it isn’t, can make all the difference in how well you wield it for your benefit.

As such, we want to set the record straight and clearly define self-discipline in the way that will bring you the best results. Of course, before we provide you with the most effective personal discipline definition, it’s important to first understand the true denotation of this phrase.

Self-Discipline Defined

So, according to Merriam Webster, the official self discipline definition is the correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.

Self-Discipline Definition

While this is a good description that many could use to create to a personal discipline definition when trying to achieve your goals, it isn’t the best definition. The best, and most effective definition for self-discipline, when it comes to the pursuit of our goals is the following:

  • A willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve a goal.
  • The ability to forgo immediate pleasure, for the exchange of long-term self-respect.
  • The ability to do what needs to be done.

Why is it this the most effective definition? Nuance. The subtle distinction between our definition, and the standard definition, is that our definition conveys the gravitas of self-discipline. Because self-discipline is so much more than just the regulation of oneself for improvement, it should be thought of as such. Otherwise, the true life-changing benefits of having self-discipline may be impaired.

Maintaining Self-Discipline

Obviously, simply reading a few definitions of self-discipline isn’t enough to actualize your personal goals. Self-discipline must be applied for it to bare its fruits. Of course, the challenge of self-discipline for everyone, is that it is difficult to maintain. Self-discipline hurts, it’s uncomfortable, and it requires massive amounts of will power and self-control. But we got you covered.

To help you master self-discipline, you’ll need to do more than just define self-discipline, you’ll need to learn how to maintain it. As such, we’ve researched the most effective methods for managing your self-discipline like a pro. So, if you’re new to practicing self discipline, here are some techniques that can help you take charge of your life, by taking charge of your self-discipline levels.

Best Ways to Maintain Self-Discipline

1. Accept Where You Are

Oftentimes, we have trouble actionizing our goals because we are in denial about where we are. For instance, everyone knows someone whose new year’s resolution is to lose a few pounds. In the beginning, a healthy diet and exercise regimen are fun. However, the monotonous act of going to the gym convinces you that it’s okay to skip a few days. Eventually, you find yourself with the “better luck next year” mentality and never achieve your goal.

When you accept where you are, you’ll try meeting your goals in a more realistic way. Identify where you are, where you want to be, and take gradual steps toward your desired outcome.

2. Shame Makes Self-Discipline Efforts Worse

Some of us use shaming tactics as motivation to raise our discipline levels. It may work initially, but over time it may also create an even bigger gap between us and our goals. In fact, people who shame themselves into repressing a behavior end up breaking down and may even hurt innocent people in order to meet their needs.

Children often fall victim to shaming tactics. For instance, young boys naturally have lots of energy and usually roughhouse with each other to blow off steam. When young boys wrestle or get a bit rough with each other, adults shame them and tell them they should be more docile like their female peers.

Over time, these boys may combine that energy with resentment which could lead to their expressing that energy in a negative way. And such negative behavior could lead to bullying behavior. When parents shame children to get them to stop certain natural behaviors, they eventually boil over and take their frustrations out on other people. When you choose to utilize self discipline, you minimize seemingly toxic behaviors in a healthy way.

So, be sure you are not shaming yourself into being more disciplined. Just, know who you are, and hold yourself accountable in a healthy way.

3. Use The Countdown Method

Have you ever seen a movie where the main character only has a few moments to make a big decision? A good example of this is if a hero is being chased by a villain and has to jump a cliff to get away. Typically, they count backwards a few seconds before springing into action.

This is a great approach when it comes to doing something that gets you closer to your goals. For example, if you want to go for a jog, set a timer for a minute. Giving yourself time to mentally shift gears and motivate yourself will raise your level of success. Once the alarm sounds, you use self discipline to take that jog.

4. Put Your Goals Within Eyesight

When you go to the grocery store, you keep a list of items in order to avoid overspending. The same should apply to your everyday goals. It’s as simple as putting sticky notes with your short and long-term goals in rooms you go to everyday. You can also make vision boards that will motivate you to achieve your goals.

If you respond better to digital reminders, set various alarms throughout the day.

5. Start With Realistic Goals

Sometimes, you lose willpower because you set your goals too high. Say you recently decided to start running in the morning. Waking up one day and signing up for a marathon before you’re prepared can cause both mental and physical harm. People believe that motivation means chasing a dream miles ahead of them.

This isn’t the case. It’s okay to have an ultimate endgame, but you’ll have more success when you set realistic goals. With realistic goals, you have more opportunities to practice your self discipline.

6. Find People to Hold You Accountable

Sometimes, your attempts at self discipline can come up short. Therefore, it’s a good idea to find people you trust to hold you accountable. You’re less likely to give up or cheat when you have someone to call you out. Loved ones can also give you positive reinforcement when you are practicing self discipline. This is especially beneficial when you’re feeling discouraged about your goals.

7. Leverage Self-Discipline Resources

Sometimes, all we really need to get our self-discipline levels on point is a little inspiration, a good reminder, or even a little active reprogramming. And the best way to do this is to leverage some great self-discipline resources. For example, you good leverage a healthy dose of self-discipline quotes to get inspired. Or, better yet, you could read a book or two about self-discipline and get reminded that you have the power to build your self-discipline levels to your liking.

Or, you can simply take advantage of mantras or affirmations to get your mind right about self-discipline. All of these methods are available to you. Yes, they are simple approaches, but never mistake simplicity for ineffective.

Here are a few self-discipline resources that you can leverage today:

Final Thoughts on Self-Discipline

Without a doubt, practicing self discipline can be difficult, especially for beginners. But, when we define self-discipline, we give ourselves an advantage. And pairing a better definition for self-discipline with these simple yet effective techniques will help you expand your previous personal discipline definition and in doing so, achieve more success.

Even if you have to start with smaller goals, utilizing self discipline will restore your self-confidence for the tougher challenges ahead. Whether you go about it alone or with a loved one, these lifestyles changes will drastically improve your overall quality of life.

Till next time,


The Strive Team is made up of everyday people and experts from all sorts of different callings and professions, each contributing their best advice and unique insights to help you navigate the challenges of achievement, and support you as you strive to live your best life.