Brain Health How to Be More Disciplined By Ariane Resnick, CNC Ariane Resnick, CNC Facebook Ariane Resnick, CNC is a mental health writer, certified nutritionist, and wellness author who advocates for accessibility and inclusivity. Learn about our editorial process Updated on November 18, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print 10'000 Hours/DigitalVision/Getty Images Self-discipline is the ability to control your behavior in a way that leads you to be more productive and/or have better habits. It is proven to lead to increased success. Learning self-control and discipline early in life is helpful for decades to come, but it is never too late to learn how to improve your self-discipline so that your future can be a better one. If you've experienced frustration around having a lack of attention span, not achieving goals, or not knowing what to do with your life, you may be struggling with self-discipline. It takes some time to become more disciplined, but it's worthwhile! How to Improve Your Discipline Wondering where to begin? Let's break down how to become more self-disciplined step by step. You'll begin by discerning how you work best—and worst—and by the time you get to the final step, you should see significant improvement in your level of self-discipline. For this process, you might want to use a journal to write out your answers to questions and to keep track of your progress as you go. Discern How You Struggle—And How You Strive Figuring out what does and does not work for you is key to understanding how to be more self-disciplined. Some people thrive when working around others, while some do better working alone. Some people are motivated by rewards, while others prefer consequences to keep them in line. That's called "carrot versus stick." Answer the following questions for yourself so that you can become clued in about what you need in order to succeed at self-discipline: Does being around other people distract me or help me concentrate?Do I feel more productive performing tasks inside or outside?Does the idea of a reward for a job well done motivate me?Does the idea of taking away a privilege or treat for not following through on a job motivate me?Do I like to think about big picture goals or visualize small steps?What do I see as my biggest blockages from being more disciplined?What stops me from achieving my goals? Once you've answered these questions, you should have a clearer idea about the right approach for you and your needs. next, you want to understand why discipline is important to you. Know Your "Why" We all have ideas that motivate us, but it's easy to lose touch with them. This is the opportunity for you to get in touch with your "why." Your "why" is your reason for wanting to achieve self-discipline. Do you want to make lots of money? Help humanity? Save animals? Explore your big life goals on a broad scale so that you get back in touch with why self-discipline will benefit you, and why you need it. Clarify Your Goals of All Sizes Now that you understand why self-discipline is important to you, what exactly do you want to achieve? Note big large and small goals: This can include everything from big steps in your career to small daily habits like taking walks more often. People who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. The act of writing down your goals can also help you to get excited about them. Be sure to include small goals that you can accomplish easily with discipline, rather than only large goals that take a long time to achieve. Once you have clarified your goals, write down some preliminary habits you can use to achieve them. For example, if you want to go for a walk daily you could set an alarm for a certain time. if you want to make sure you get more work done, you could choose times of day to review your progress. Set small, regular reminders to keep you on track about your goals. Find Accountability Sharing your goals with someone you respect is directly correlated to a better chance of achieving them. Some people may share this with a mentor, but even telling a friend whom you have respect or admiration for will work. It can be a simple as letting your friend know that you have decided to work on your self-discipline in general, or you can share some of your goals with them. The act of sharing about your journey will help you commit to it more strongly, in addition to improving your chances of succeeding. Remove Distractions You can't get distracted by something that isn't there, so the best way to handle distractions before you begin trying to be more disciplined is to remove them. If you pause working or studying to watch tv, put the remote in a different room. If you tend to drop what you're doing to look at your phone, give it to a family member for a few hours at a time. If you eat a lot of junk food and you want to stop, don't keep it in your house. This step sets you up to succeed, instead of fail. Start Small Don't begin your daily work with self-discipline by trying to achieve something huge. This will take too much time to keep you on track and motivated. Instead, work on daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Acknowledge every day when you do what you set out to do, and know that it is moving you in the right direction. Building new habits takes time. Every day that you do something, you are one step closer to it being a habit, and after awhile, it will become much easier and more second nature to you. Forgive and Reward Because we are all human, perfection isn't possible. We all make mistakes, and that's ok! When you behave in a way that isn't aligned with your quest to become more disciplined, forgive yourself. Review why and where things went wrong, and if possible, change your environment so that it doesn't happen again. Even if you're more motivated by consequence than by rewards in general, it's important to acknowledge your milestones. Reward yourself in a way that involves self-care, because you deserve it and because it will help you stay on track. As much as it can be easy to let the little accomplishments slide, it's important to keep track of them and reward them because when you add them up, they become big accomplishments. Review and Expand Your Goals Every so often, you'll want to review you progress and your goals. Goals change over time, so you want to keep an open mind about what yours were previously and how they may have shifted since you first noted them. Additionally, stepping back from your situation allows you to view just how much you've accomplished! Look back on how you've succeeded with your self-discipline, as well as areas where you still need to improve, and plan out the steps to take to continue on your path. Initially, you might want to do this once a week. As you become more and more adept at discipline, though, you can do it progressively less often. Practice, Practice, Practice You can only win if you don't give up! Self-discipline can take some people their entire lives to master, so don't be down on yourself if it's slow going at first. Keep at it, and if your goals all feel too big, make up some very easy small ones so that you can experience the feeling of success. The more you practice self-discipline, the easier it will become. Eventually, you won't have to practice it at all. It will become a natural habit, and your days of feeling undisciplined will be far in the past. Benefits of Being More Disciplined There are many benefits to achieving a stronger level of self-discipline. These are some of the most common ones. More control: Having self-discipline enables you to have more control over your own life. You're taking charge and improving yourself to be the best you possible, and this can lead to an increased self of control. No more procrastinating: exercising self-discipline means that you're taking action. This means you aren't spending as much time procrastinating. In turn, you can get more done, and spend less time stressing over getting things done. More satisfaction: increasing your self-discipline means you get more done, and that in turn means that you may end up more satisfied with what you do. Goals get met: rather than just thinking about your dreams, you're living them! Self-discipline lets you do whatever is needed to accomplish your goals. A Word From Verywell If you're still feeling uninspired to begin improving your self-discipline even though you want to, you might be having an issue with motivation. Learn about what to do when you're having difficulties motivating, and how to overcome that. 3 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Muraven M. Building self-control strength: practicing self-control leads to improved self-control performance. J Exp Soc Psychol. 2010 Mar 1;46(2):465–8. doi:10.1016%2Fj.jesp.2009.12.011 Lifelong impact of early self-control [Internet]. American Scientist. 2017 Share your goals – but be careful whom you tell [Internet]. Share your goals – but be careful whom you tell. By Ariane Resnick, CNC Ariane Resnick, CNC is a mental health writer, certified nutritionist, and wellness author who advocates for accessibility and inclusivity. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! 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