Inside: Do you have things you want to accomplish, but are having trouble getting them done? Use these ways to develop discipline in your daily life to help you make more progress.

Do you ever find yourself staring at your to-do list and realizing you’ve made no progress?

Or do you set goals for yourself, only to find yourself totally distracted and focused on something else?

Do you know what you need to do – but just can’t bring yourself to make it happen?

If this sounds familiar, you might need to develop a little more discipline in your life.

Discipline is something that may carry a negative association for some. It might remind you of being disciplined as a child – but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

We’re talking about self-discipline which is a skill that many of us can benefit from in our daily lives. Discipline isn’t just something that’s nice to do have if you want to achieve your goals and make positive changes in your life – it’s necessary.

And it doesn’t have to be difficult.

develop discipline

What is Discipline – and Why Does It Matter?

Discipline is your ability to hold yourself accountable and do what needs to be done – even if you don’t necessarily want to. 

It’s a critical skill that many of us need to succeed in the world, and it’s one that’s introduced to many of us early on. As we grow, we’re introduced to the importance of discipline at school and at home.

Doing our homework and studying for tests requires discipline. Showing up to soccer practice after school takes discipline. Doing your chores? Yep, that’s discipline, too.

But many of us are introduced to the idea of discipline without really understanding why. 

Why does discipline matter?

The answer becomes more apparent as you grow older. As a kid, you have someone there to hold you accountable. You’re reminded to eat your veggies, brush your teeth, do your homework, and go to bed on time. 

As an adult? There’s nobody there to hold you accountable – it’s all on you. And the stakes are a lot higher.

You’ve got deadlines at work, bills to pay, and maybe even other little humans – or pets – who depend on your ability to stay disciplined. You’ve got to do the work, even if it’s difficult or unpleasant. 

develop discipline

When you develop discipline, you make it easier for yourself to navigate life’s challenges and overcome obstacles. You learn how to push forward and persevere, even when you don’t want to.

By developing a disciplined mindset, you set yourself up for success – and make it easier to achieve it. 

If you aren’t feeling very disciplined right now, don’t worry – there’s still hope.

Discipline isn’t something we’re born with – it’s something we develop. Like a muscle, you can strengthen your sense of discipline by putting in the work. 

4 Ways to Develop Discipline in Your Life

Ready to become a more disciplined person? It won’t happen overnight, but with a little effort, you can develop discipline in your life. 

Here’s how you can make it happen:

1. Make sure you know your goals.

Knowing what goals you’re working toward is the first step in becoming more disciplined.

Without knowing what you’re working toward, it can be difficult – if not impossible – to actually hold yourself accountable. 

Clearly define your goals and put them somewhere visible. Write them down on sticky notes and put them on your bathroom mirror. Put them on a whiteboard in your kitchen, or on your cell phone’s wallpaper. 

By keeping those goals visible and top-of-mind, you’re more likely to hold yourself accountable and less inclined to brush them aside. 

woman walking dog

2. Understand your why

You need more than a goal to develop discipline. You need to look a little deeper and make sure you know why that goal is important to you.

Why do you want to be able to run a marathon?

Why do you want to earn that promotion at work?

Want to stop smoking, eat healthier, or kick that bad habit? Why?

By getting really clear on why your goal matters, it becomes much easier to convince yourself to take action and do whatever it takes to get there.

If you can remind yourself exactly why you’re running a mile each morning, you’ll be way more likely to lace up your shoes and make it happen – instead of telling yourself it can wait. 

Everyone has their own why. Whether you’re setting a goal or making a change for your personal wellbeing, your mental health, your family or friends, your sense of financial security, your future potential, or something else, it’s absolutely critical to figure out what’s truly driving you – and keep it top of mind as you work to develop discipline. 

3. Build helpful habits.

Habits are incredibly powerful tools that benefit numerous areas of our lives – including our ability to develop discipline.

Habits are essentially little actions we incorporate into our lives on a regular, routine basis.

develop discipline

While they can be difficult to form, through repetition, our habits become easy and virtually effortless. Because of this, habits can be a tremendous tool in helping us become more disciplined.

Consider what habits might help you achieve your goals through discipline – and find a way to incorporate them throughout your day.

One effective way to build new habits involves ‘habit stacking,’ or linking habits together so that one triggers the next.

By connecting a new habit you’re trying to build – for example, taking a daily multivitamin – to a habit you already practice, like eating breakfast each morning, you’ll make it easier for yourself to achieve that habit and embrace that sense of discipline.

4. Get rid of temptation.

Temptation is the enemy of discipline.

And while some people are great at resisting temptation, saying ‘no’, and sticking to a plan – some of us aren’t so lucky.

If you’re struggling to develop self-discipline because you have too many temptations leading you astray, the answer is pretty simple – find ways to get rid of them.

Can’t seem to say no to sweets, even though you’re determined to drop 10 lbs and stick to your diet? Get rid of the temptation by skipping the cookies at the grocery store and keeping your pantry free of the things that’ll derail you from your goals. 

resist temptation

Trying to drink less? Make plans with friends that don’t involve restaurants or bars. Enjoy a picnic, go for a bike ride together, or try a new hobby. 

Struggling to go to sleep on time? Take your television out of your bedroom, put your phone on silent in a separate space, and get rid of other distractions that cause you to stay up so late. 

By taking action to eliminate temptation from your daily life, you’ll find it much easier to stay disciplined and achieve your goals, whatever they might be. 

What have you done to develop discipline in your life? Leave a comment and let me know!

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  1. Love this post Julianna! I have found that one of the things that helps me stay disciplined is the “eat that frog” idea. Basically if you have to eat a frog eat it in the morning and if you have to eat two frogs eat the biggest one first. When you get your hard and boring tasks done as soon as possible you can then move on to the fun or relaxing stuff. It’s a reward cycle that keeps me motivated to do my work so I can get to what I really want to do. I hate procrastinating because it’s like dreading that frog you have to eat all day and that can take all the joy out of life!

  2. On January 13th, I quit eating carbs and sugar and walking 2 miles on a regular basis and exercising. I wrote down my goals for each month and will see where I am at the end of 3 months. Also cut out any snacks.

  3. Reading this article is easy,but putting in practically in life whether it is Personal or professional is difficult but not impossible.
    Good article on discipline ,but people need courage to practice this.

  4. I love this word l will take the Advice and work through it in my daily life thk for writing this God will bless you keep it up.

  5. Very helpful to me. I wake up at 4am and go to sleep at 11pm. I suffer more the next day if I don’t do it right.

  6. Great article! The best idea is getting rid of bad temptations. Don’t keep sweets or foods that will throw you off. I find tracking my food intake on WW or MyFitnessPal helps me to stay accountable.

  7. I struggle with discipline in some areas. What helped me was the sentence: “Discipline is empathy with your future-self.”
    It totally shifted my focus. I’m doing this unwanted task, not because I “have to” but because it will make life easier for my future-self and I’ll be glad then.
    Also, you can train discipline, the more often you do it, the easier it gets on the whole, setbacks included of course .

  8. Another idea, which is commonly mentioned in connection with certain types of goals, but really applies universally, is an accountability partner. Bonus points if you speak to them frequently (ideally someone in your own household who can see pretty quickly if/when you slack off).

    Thanks to ADHD, distracting thoughts are part of my daily experience. If a thought is particularly engaging my mind, I may act/speak it out (i.e. I start whispering to myself and such). I’ve talked this over with my husband, and if he catches me whispering, he’ll say, “I can hear whispering.” It helps me catch myself going down rabbit holes.

    Another point is in regard to breaking bad habits, as this is most easily done by establishing competing good habits. For example, if your bad habit is watching hours of TV after supper, the solution isn’t necessarily getting rid of the TV (although that may be necessary to get rid of temptation). After all, you could just start doing Netflix on your computer instead. Hence, the best solution would be to decide what it is you want to do with that time instead of watching TV and start building that as your new habit to replace the old habit.

    I will close with this excellent quote from my favourite author:

    “Thus actions repeated form habits, habits form character, and by the character our destiny for time and for eternity is decided.” E.G. White

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