How to Develop Self-Discipline and Transform Your Life

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Waking up early, making up your bed, brushing your teeth, and eating a healthy breakfast is a discipline that can transform your whole day. Self-discipline is important in our life. Self-discipline examples from successful people have shown us how crucial it is to achieve success.

By adding in reading, journaling, and meditation, you can supercharge your growth and allow yourself to become a more loving person.

You may also find that you become a harder-working employee, a more trustworthy friend, a passionate lover, and an overall interesting person.

Self-discipline and consistency pay little dividends but they compound quickly making a big impact in your life.

If we don’t discipline ourselves, the world will do it for us. – William Feather

I started elementary school on September 1st in 2000.

I already feel old remembering it.

At that time I was living in a small town of no more than 200 people. The town was 3 km away from the school.

It was so exciting to finally get out of my small world and meet kids, learn stuff and have something to do.

But soon I realized, school is not an easy quest.

There’s so much to learn, and I have so little time. I had to figure it out because, like everyone else, I wanted to be a good student.

To get to school on time, I had to get up at 5:30 am, prepare, eat breakfast and walk to school. In the beginning, it was not too hard because I was thrilled to learn something new. However, it was always raining, and I wouldn’t say I like that.

But I had to. Everyone had to.

“It’s not something I choose, it’s my daily duty and I must complete it whether I like it or not.” I thought.

Self-Discipline Definition

Here’s how J. D. Meier and Michael Kropp, co-authors of “Getting Results the Agile Way,” define self-discipline:

Then there’s self-discipline: the ability to correct your behavior. Self-discipline is simply correcting or regulating your behavior for the sake of improvement.

Developing self-discipline takes time, and it consists of decisions made every day. Whether you choose to take stairs or elevators, you develop discipline; whether you choose to eat more veggies instead of fast food, you develop discipline. Choosing water instead of soda, that is discipline. Doing your homework is discipline. Even if you do it and get a bad grade, you showed up to develop your discipline. I never cared about grades; I knew it isn’t very worthy. Of course, you can get lucky; you can cheat and can copy from your classmate. But you can’t cheat discipline. What is built is there, and it works for you. In the beginning, it may seem like a total waste of time; why would you suffer doing things you don’t like?

You do things you don’t like to do things you love and gain ultimate personal freedom. Self-control is a rare yet powerful skill. It saves you from making stupid decisions. It makes you more patient, more observant and eventually serves you in your life’s quest.

How to develop discipline? Make it into a game. Self-discipline training is about consciously choosing the harder way. If there is a hard and easy way to do something, choose the hard way and expose yourself to stress and suffering. Get used to it until it becomes normal to you. It will be easier to cope with extremely stressful life events like losing a job, going broke, dealing with someone’s death, combating disease, and all the other misfortunes. You can always take a harder path. Instead of taking the bus to work, walk.

Instead of eating out at work’s lunch break, cook yourself a healthy lunch and pack it. Cha goes out every Friday, picks up a book instead of watching Netflix every evening, takes up an online course instead of sleeping in on the weekend, gets up early, and goes for a run or a hike. It all sounds amazing when you read it, but once you decide to do it and try it, you will face a lot of resistance, and that’s because it’s challenging. It’s uncomfortable. It requires your physical and mental energy.

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Self Discipline Example By Kobe Bryant

People are lazy. You and I are lazy. Most of the inventions have been made because we are lazy and want to make things easier to chill. But, by choosing laziness all the time, you slowly degrade and become a dying body without ambition and discipline. Even if you develop a burning desire or hit the other end, which is desperation, you might fail in making the change because you don’t have the discipline-powered vehicle to allow you to tackle challenges, show up when you don’t feel like, and put in work consistently.

Don’t worry if you think you squandered years taking the least resistant path. We all do in one way or another. Some of us have great discipline at money while we suck at relationships. Some of us are great lovers but completely ignore health and take the least resistance path indulging in sugar while binge-watching TV series. That’s life. People are different, and some have stronger self-discipline than others, but I don’t believe in talent and luck. I believe in hard work.

The Power of Self-Discipline

Now I will share how I upgraded my discipline and literally transformed my lifestyle by designing my miracle morning.

Meet Hal Elrod, a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and author of “The Miracle Morning.”

In his bestseller, Elrod talks about how it is possible to transform your life before 8 am by creating a simple yet empowering morning routine to activate your physical and mental resources to start the day like a champion and enjoy the benefits throughout the day.

Without even knowing about his powerful book I was working on my morning routine trying to find that perfect combination.

In 2019, I was struggling to complete my first marathon for Nationwide Children Hospital. I was working on this blog, going to school, and building my company.

The marathon was not the main focus and quite soon, I lost interest in doing it. Lack of time and interest was killing the venture.

But I was lucky.

I had a friend who kept pushing me. Sooner than I expected I wasn’t progressing. She told me I could start working out with her to prepare for my race, and gave me recommendation that I applied.

I had to catch up because the race was in two months, and I never ran more than 5 miles before that. So I enter what David Goggins called in his book Hell Week. After training, discipline, and consistency, I eventually got in shape. First, waking up at 6 am. Going for a jog and then doing my regular activities. On the weekend, I ran past half of my target, which was a full marathon of 26.2 miles.

The more I practice the more I realize that I could actually make this marathon happened. Sooner I was able to run more than 13 miles.

With a 2 months preparation and not in my the best shape I was able to complete a full marathon. Without self-disciple and consistency I don’t think I would have been able to finish it.

Self-Discipline Examples

One day I came across an article by Filipe Castro Matos.

He challenged himself to wake up at 4:30 am for 21 consecutive days. It was fun to read his story, his struggles, motivations, and accomplishments.

He was based in Lisbon and worked on a startup. By starting his day at 4:30 am, he would have plenty of time to exercise, read and work, leave the office at 2 pm with lots of time to unwind, have a nice early dinner, and enjoy the sunshine.

It sounded amazing.

I was lured and decided to shoot for 5 am.

For the first week I was waking up at 5:30 am to make the transition smoother and then switched to 5 am.

It wasn’t that hard to be honest, but only if I went to bed at 9 pm.

But things happen, you go out or get lost on the internet, and you go to bed at 10 pm or 11 pm, and then your rhythm is ruined, and instead of getting 8 hours of sleep, you’ll be getting only 6 or 7 hours which most likely affect your morning in a big way.

I always thought I was the night owl, and mornings looked like a good place to rest and sleep in, but I never felt good after sleeping in. I would miss half of the day, my head would be heavy, or even have a headache, I would feel sleepy and tired.

On the other hand, having a disciplined sleeping regime allowed me to get consistent night sleep of 8 hours, morning agenda, and a clear time for bed before 9 pm.

Even If I decided to work past 9 pm the next day would be ruined and the overall progress would suffer.

You might be thinking that I am crazy saying that I like waking up at 5 am.

I really do.

I get the same hours of sleep as you do, I just go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.

In fact, many successful leaders get up early, CEOs, athletes, writers, artists, and politicians get up early.

self discipline examples
self discipline examples

Examples include Tim Cook, Michelle Obama, Kobe Bryant, Jack Dorsey, and Richard Branson.

Being an early riser isn’t about trumpeting how hard you work. It’s about doing everything within your power to help your business achieve success; and if that means you have to get up at an hour not known to most, then you might as well enjoy the sunrise. – Richard Branson

In the morning you have the most precious focus and mental clarity. You’re not exposed to stress and interruptions of life, work, and relationships.

You have time for yourself and things that matter to you.

If you want to advance in some area of your life, wake up one hour earlier and work on it.

If you want more from life, wake up 2 or 3 hours earlier and work on what matters to you the most:

  • Self-education
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Prayer

Make it count.

Establishing discipline is not an easy quest.

There’s an entire industry on willpower and discipline building including motivational material.

However, if you internalize the concept of taking full ownership and responsibility for your life, you will be making these necessary choices with ease. Instead of resisting, you’ll embrace the uncertainty; you’ll expand your suffering and growth zone; you will tolerate the process because you know it will make you into a warrior and get you closer to your goals.

No one likes people who whine and complain all the time.

Once you redirect your energy from all these mentioned activities, you will have enormous power to tackle daily challenges that will turn into iron discipline. Then you will be able to achieve more than you ever dreamed of.

As superhuman David Goggins would say, “I don’t stop when I am tired. I stop when I am done.”

That’s what I wish you to understand and take home after reading this.

self discipline example
self discipline example

How to Develop Self Discipline

Here are some more daily habits you can adopt to help you develop discipline and design a fulfilling morning routine.

Make Your Bed First Thing in the Morning

According to psychological research, people who make their bed in the morning are happier and more successful than those who don’t. If that’s not enough, here’s more:

  • 71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy.
  • While 62 percent of non-bed-makers are unhappy.
  • Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly and feel well rested.
  • Whereas non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym and wake up tired.

Crazy, right? Something so simple. Yet, when you make your bed first thing in the morning, you knock off your first accomplishment of the day. This puts you in a mindset of “winning.” Could you do it? It only takes 30 seconds.

Read Essentialism by Greg Mckeown

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done; it’s about getting only the right things done. About challenging the core assumption of “we can have it all” and “I have to do everything” and replacing it with the pursuit of “the right thing, in the right way, at the right time.” It’s about regaining control of our own choices about spending our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us. In “Essentialism,” Greg McKeown draws on experience and insight from working with the leaders of the most innovative companies in the world to show how to achieve the disciplined pursuit of less.

Write Your To-Do List, the Night Before to develop self discipline

Plan your day. Starting the day with a clear plan reduces stress and helps you focus on the right things.

Say “Later” to Preserve Willpower

I know you want that cake now, you want to check your Instagram, you’re curious about your weekend plans. Simply tell yourself “later” and allow to do these things later if you still want to.

Know How to Say “No”

According to Brian de Haaff, co-founder and CEO of Aha! Labs Inc. “Telling people ‘no’ does not need to be an act of rejection. Learning to say no the right way can prove you’re an attentive teammate.” By saying “no” to distractions and mediocre things, you allow yourself to say “yes” to things that matter.

Tidying Up, Minimizing

Keep your environment and mind tidy. Tidying up every day and evaluating if you need another pair of shoes, another gadget, or another commitment can help you get rid of the things that clutter your life.

the importance of self discipline
self discipline example

Remember That Effective Time Management Makes You More Rather Than Less Flexible

Rather than asking, “What’s the most important thing I can do today?” time multipliers ask, “What’s the most important thing I can do today that would make tomorrow better?”

Time tracking and management allow you to do the things that you really want to do rather than the things you really have to do. Knowing where your time goes will help you to act on it and save more time in the future. RescueTime is a great app to help you track your time.

Schedule 1-2 Hours Just for Yourself

For me it’s mornings. For you might be evenings. Having a scheduled block of uninterrupted “me” time will allow you to fully focus on your tasks.

Set a “No Meetings” Day

It enables you and your team to have a free mind and focus on your work thanks to some uninterrupted work time.

Write in Your Journal for Five Minutes per Day

It’s another mindfulness and gratitude practice that will help you develop discipline, clear thinking and feel happier.

Set a Weekly Goal to develop self discipline

Weekly goals keep you motivated and focused during your week. To make things easier, break down most important big tasks into actionable chunks and every evening prepare your to-do list for the next.

Start Your Day With an Intention

Nomad and polymath, Patricia Parkinson, describes incense with intention as one of the most influential habits in her life:

Most mornings, I wake to watch the sunrise while ritualizing the lighting of incense. I use these as anchors to provide foundational consistency in what is otherwise an inconsistent and varied day. During this time, I meditate and reflect on my three current intentions for being. At the moment, these take the form of discipline, decisiveness, and discernment. I also use this alone time to quiet my mind and visualize my ideal day, before I move into my habitual social media perusal, comms, and general busy-ness.

Every morning Benjamin Franklin, the Founding Father of the United States, asked himself, “What good shall I do today?”

What Good Will You Do with Your Day?

Self discipline is important because it allows you to live on your terms.

Now go out there and start working on self-discipline that will turn into the ultimate freedom. If you utilize this few self discipline examples you will transform your life.

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