Why Is Self Discipline Important?

We live in a fast-paced world with constant demands and changes.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed from time to time. One way to keep you on your feet is self-disciple.

So we asked 18 experts, why is self-discipline important?

See their top insights below.

Without it, a person is set adrift against the vicissitudes of life

With self-discipline, a person can achieve goals, overcome disappointment, and embrace life. Without it, a person is bound to suffer from disappointment and failure.

Read related article: The 17 Best Books on Self Discipline

Self-discipline should be pursued, developed, and celebrated by any person who wants to have at least a modicum of success, material or otherwise. Self-discipline is the internal drive that is dismissive of obstacles. It is relentless, restless, and revolutionary.

Consider almost any person you wish to emulate. Most, if not all, have self-discipline.

Take Dr. Samuel Johnson, an intellectual giant of the 18th century who single-handedly wrote A Dictionary of the English Language. Look at J.R.R. Tolkien, who developed his own language for use in his fantasy novels.

The famous Greek orator Demosthenes overcame his stutter by speaking with stones in his mouth. If you’re not of an academic bent, consider Michael Jordan, who was cut when he first tried out for his high school basketball team. Or Mother Theresa, who dedicated her entire life to serving others.

These examples challenge and inspire. And they show us that a life of self-disciple is worth having.

Self-disciple is not easy. But nothing worthwhile ever is.

Kimberly Ihekwoaba

Kimberly Ihekwoaba

Multi-media Storyteller, Kihek Creations

Self-discipline helps the individual to be persistent in the midst of failure and setbacks

Self-discipline simply means control of oneself through actions and response to situations. This possession of inner strength does not imply as to having a restrictive lifestyle. However, it requires being intentional with the present moment; with the task at hand.

Self-discipline is a requirement to achieve goals. It allows the individual to make decisions based on long-term commitments; each action is tailored to move the individual closer to their goals.

According to a paper published in 1993 by Anders Ericsson, it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert.

It is important to recognize that continuous effort and showing up daily creates the building block to sustain and improve skills.

I used to believe that you just need to do passionate work, and it will be easier to be consistent. The truth is that yes, work is easier since you enjoy it. However, you will still have days that feel like battles; days where snoozing the alarm feels better.

Secondly, self-discipline helps the individual to be persistent in the midst of failure and setbacks.

Mistakes are bound to happen. A quote to live by is anything worth doing, is worth doing badly in, it till you get better in it. Everyone needs the reminder that failure is not final.

They are foundations in sculpting a better version of the individual, as well as bestowing lessons and experiences that will be carried throughout life. In addition, those failures can become an inspiration to someone that listens to your story.

Tyler Perry shared his story about the rejections he faced submitting his screenplays and how he had to sleep in his car for over three years. And seeing how an individual carrying such a burden, and later experience a breakthrough in the industry, inspires the audience to persist and take actions.

Lastly, self-discipline is a building block to sustain the individual against distractions. The most common habit is the “shiny-object syndrome”, whereby the individual is constantly making decisions based on the belief that the next opportunity is better than the last, this could be in terms of monetary value or title/ status.

Self-discipline allows the individual to learn how to say no. It is an important practice to wary if taking a decision will be an opportunity or a distraction.

As humans, we function based on habits. Success, neither failure is an event. It is a by-product of habits. So choose your actions wisely.

Jennifer Hancock

Jennifer Hancock

Founder, Humanist Learning Systems

Self-discipline is accepting the responsibility of choosing your actions wisely

Self-discipline is being able to make good decisions for oneself. It is a form of responsible autonomy. You don’t just follow directions, you do what is right because – you yourself decided what is right.

All our actions have consequences. Most of the time we can choose our actions so that we are a benefit to ourselves and to others.

If we don’t take the time to think through our actions, we can hurt ourselves and others. To be self-disciplined is to be morally responsible for your actions and the consequences you have on others.

Eleanor Roosevelt in her book You Learn by Living, wrote, “When you come to understand self-discipline you begin to understand the limits of freedom. You grasp the fact that freedom is never absolute, that it must always be contained within the framework of other people’s freedom.”

I am a Humanist, which means I have accepted that it is my responsibility to balance my need for autonomy and my social obligations in a way that benefits not just me, but the society in which I live.

My autonomy is a socially embedded form of autonomy. This isn’t easy to do and I don’t always get the balance right, but I would suggest that actively being conscious of the need to do this yields better results than just winging it does.

The added bonus is that making an effort to ensure that your actions help others and yourself feels really good. As Eleanor Roosevelt says (paraphrased), it is a sign of emotional maturity to approach life in such a balanced and responsible fashion. In fact, it’s the definition of being responsible.

Self-discipline is accepting the responsibility of choosing your actions wisely.

Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC

Sarah Swenson LMHC

Therapist, Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC Online Counseling Services

As a therapist working with high intelligence clients, I place the discussion of self-disciple at the core of my work, because without it the greatest talents and gifts line the famous road of good intentions.

Sometimes, for example, gifted children learn early that they can coast on their native capabilities. They don’t apply themselves because things come easily to them.

It’s often only when they reach college that things catch up with them. They can no longer coast. As a result, their grades slip, and with them their self-confidence.

Students drop out, losing faith in themselves. You don’t learn to play the piano by being born with perfect pitch; you learn by sitting hour after hour and practicing under supervision with kind correctives and examples to emulate. Only then does your native talent have a platform for refined expression.

And only then can you feel you earned any success or achievement, and with that comes a feeling of accomplishment in the contest of personal best.

Yocheved Golani

Yocheved Golani

Author | Journalist | Life Coach | Editor, E-Counseling

All human beings experience about 20 or so years of growing up, maturing physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

One of the desired results at age 20 or so is self-discipline. Society requires it of chronological adults. If someone 20 or over can’t control themselves, they’re defined as “immature,” and unreliable for friendships, employment, household tasks, and more.

Self-discipline is about the ability to choose one option over another, to override emotional impulses so that you can behave in self-preserving and socially attuned ways.

If you can’t make yourself stop playing computer games, overeating, talking too much, or sending excessive amounts of messages on cellphones, then you’re demonstrating that you lack self-discipline

Wanting to be slim is a matter of following through on that decision. Eating calorie-controlled portions and making sensible – nourishing – food choices is a sign of inner wisdom and self-control. Potato chips and snack bars aren’t good for health, and neither is binge eating on junk food and colas or juices.

Want to finish college? Make yourself study your class notes and books. Do assignments by starting them early and setting deadlines for completing them. All-nighters don’t improve grade point averages and neither does work missing in action.

Excuses don’t matter. Professors have deadlines aka limits. You need to limit your time- and effort-wasting activity. Having fun is one thing, ruining your chances to get ahead in life quite another.

The same thing is true at work. Bosses matter. Deadlines are important, not jokes or suggestions.

Shut off your cellphone. Use a landline in order to limit the allure of time-wasting SMSes, icon use, etc. You need to focus phone calls on the communication of needs, news, employment issues, plus invitations to parties, formal and sporting events.

People tend to admire self-disciplined individuals.

They come across as smart, can-do workers, friends, and students. When you make your New Year’s resolutions, resolve to increase your self-discipline day by day.

Get past inevitable setbacks as all mature people do. The hurt of failing to be self-disciplined now and then might linger, but wallowing in the misery is for undisciplined, immature folks. Get over it. Be resilient.

Resilience is like a muscle, developed over time. Being resilient is a mark of self-discipline and maturity.

You can do this. Spend time thinking about how to improve your time management and thoughts, set priorities, and then work at fulfilling the goals you’ve set for yourself. You’ll have a happier 2019 for all the effort you invest in yourself.

Adam Cole

Adam Cole

Musician | Author

Discipline comes from the same word as disciple, which has its origins as a word meaning “to learn”.

Sadly, it was also used in Middle English to mean someone that flays the skin off their bodies as a way to show their penitence!

Even though many people think of discipline as being more like the flaying thing, I tend to think the “learning” root is a much more valuable way to think about it.

Discipline is teaching yourself.

It’s paying attention to what you do while you are doing it and making adjustments that improve your outcomes. If eating that bowl of ice-cream before you write isn’t helping, move it to a later time and see if that makes a difference.

So discipline can be a gentle thing. All it really has to be is consistent. Then you can start to see results.

You set goals that are attainable. If you don’t have the “discipline” to meet the goals, maybe it’s the goals that need changing. If you think the goals are fine, then what do you need to change in yourself to meet them?

Sometimes self-discipline is impossible until you have the resources to implement it. You may need someone else to discipline (that is, “teach”) you until you can take over. Getting help from someone else is a form of self-discipline.

Alison Brehme

Alison Brehme

Certified Nutrition Coach | Founder, Let It Be Club

It’s a tool meant to give us more freedom and options if we are open to it

Rarely does life go exactly according to desire or plan. The harsh truth is that we have very little control over this life.

To some, self-discipline is a 4-letter word. It’s something that seems confining and restricting; however, it’s actually a tool meant to give us more freedom and options if we are open to it.

It’s been said before that being disciplined and creating a routine will support you in reaching your goals, which I believe is true.

I also believe self-discipline is a way of being you can tap into on a regular basis as a way to respond to life when things get hard. It can help you stay on track, manage your stress and be that safety net when uncertainty hits.

As with everything, it’s important to figure out how self-discipline can be part of your life. You are unique so what works for one person will not work for another that’s why it’s important to figure out what will benefit you.

The key is to start, be consistent and test what will work for you.

Evie Fatz

Evie Fatz

Creator | Owner,  EAT.MOVE.LIVE

Success comes to those who are highly disciplined

People often think success comes to those who are highly motivated. The truth is, success comes to those who are highly disciplined.

Self-discipline is the act of doing the things we often don’t want to do or don’t “feel like” doing. There are many things in life we don’t necessarily enjoy but are required of us.

When it comes to financial success, losing weight, creating meaningful relationships or anything we desire, there are things involved that we don’t enjoy.

The difference between those who accomplish their goals and those who do not is those who are successful discipline themselves to simply get things done, even when they don’t want to.

The goods news is discipline can be created by just about anybody. It is a process and takes practice.

Instead of putting off the things you don’t feel like doing, get those things done first thing in the morning. Research shows our most productive time of day is in the first few hours after waking.

Therefore, developing a morning routine in which you accomplish tasks that aren’t at the top of your enjoyment list will take you far in creating self-discipline.

Chrissy Macken

Chrissy Macken

Founder,  Blueprintgreen Career Coaching & Consulting

Self-discipline is important because it allows us to “get our ducks in a row” when it comes to predictable, organizable tasks and demands.

This, in turn, affords us the opportunity to conserve more mental and emotional energy to take on larger challenges, unpredictable occurrences, and life’s curveballs.

We all only have 24 hours in a day, and time is often one of our most limited resources, especially when we have competing demands from work life, home life, family life, etc.

Developing a strong and healthy sense of self-discipline allows us to efficiently manage our limited time. (This same principle applies to other limited resources, like money).

Self-discipline can provide a sense of ease and security by knowing we have our minimum bases covered and have the capacity to handle the inevitable unpredictable things thrown our way.

Without self-discipline, it is extremely hard to reach a goal or achieve an intention

I know from personal experience that without the self-discipline and drive that I applied to myself there is no way I would have finished all of the triathlons that I raced in or authored all of the books that I have written.

Self-discipline starts out with a desire or a goal and once that is set, one then has to re-set their priorities to make room for the goal.

Once the priorities are established, then the new routine is established. And self-discipline and desire of the finished goal is the glue to keep the routine intact until one reaches the finish line!

I know for myself, keeping my routine followed day after day was the most important part of being self-disciplined. With the routine intact, I was able to make progress and keep the momentum flowing which in turn guided me closer and closer to my goal.

I also tried to stay in the present moment and allow each day to be its own victory. If I thought to far out into the future, I saw how much work my goal was going to take and it could sometimes feel daunting. But by taking it one day at a time my goal seemed much more attainable. And before I knew it, I had achieved it!



Blogger, Tracking Happiness

Every time you make a decision to do something and don’t follow through with it, you weaken your self-control and willpower.

It’s the painful reality which a lot of people struggle with.

Imagine a parent that’s constantly bending to a child. The child will learn what it can get away with and how to manipulate the parent to always compromise.

You can easily see how this is a bad situation, right?

But what if I told you this is exactly what you’re doing to yourself when you don’t follow through with your plans? You’re effectively compromising with yourself in these situations.

Your self-discipline decreases every time you make an excuse.

And over time, the magnitude of these excuses will shrink as well. Your initial excuse for not going for a run might be “it’s raining, windy and cold” will slowly transform into a smaller excuse, like “there’s a chance it’s going to rain”.

Every time you let a single excuse stop you from taking action, you also decrease your tolerance against excuses.

How to fix this? Set small realistic goals and follow rules that are very concrete and measurable. Start with only a few of these, like:

  • Make the bed every morning
  • Do the dishes before going to sleep
  • Maximum of 2 coffees per day

Over time, these goals will turn into habits, which allows you to focus on new – but still attainable – goals.

Self-discipline is created by creating habits. And you grow habits one step at a time. But the benefits should be obvious to you.

Read related article: How to Develop Self Discipline?

Self-discipline is arguably the most important foundation upon which success can be built. That, and probably self-awareness, which is also built by creating habits.

Andrew Rawson

Andrew Rawson

Chief Learning Officer, Traliant

Self-discipline is important for many different reasons, one of the big reasons is because it builds self-esteem.

Once you can prove to yourself that you are self-disciplined you will feel much more confident and better all around. Another reason it is so important is that you will ultimately be more productive in all aspects of your life, from work to home. This may seem like an obvious one but can be overlooked.

Finally, self-discipline inevitably makes your life easier.

People who are self-disciplined tend to excel in many aspects of life. If you are someone that isn’t self-disciplined you should try it and see what types of impacts it has on your life.

John Crossman, CCIM, CRX

John Crossman

CEO | Crossman & Company

Self-discipline is crucial both for personal growth and the prevention of future problems.

It gets us to our goals and keeps from the things that can destroy our goals. People often fantasize about some great event happening (winning the lottery) and then their life dramatically changing for the better.

Life does not work that way. Our lives improve by very consistently making small healthy choices. Exercising daily, journaling, putting money in an IRA, paying off a loan, reading, and many other things are little steps that help us to climb mountains.

Sadly, on the negative, the opposite is true. People often make one bad decision and it turns into the lottery of mistakes.

Unplanned pregnancy, drug overdose, an arrest, and other major trauma can come from one small choice. Discipline helps us to grow and it protects us going to very dark places.

Nick Disney

Nick Disney

Owner, Sell My San Antonio House

Self-discipline is important because it creates consistency, and consistently moving forward over time is what will create success in your life.

This is true from your business to your fitness, to your diet. In every aspect of our life, we are going to be pulled in many different directions, and a lot of those directions are not going to provide positive results.

If you can develop the self-discipline to do the things you know you need to do, even when they’re not fun and you don’t want to do them, you will consistently be moving forward and achieving your goals.

If you know that you need to make 10 cold calls per day but haven’t had any luck, so you slack off on Thursday and Friday, you will have missed 20 potential business opportunities whereas the person who had enough self-discipline to make those 10 calls per day will get 20 more opportunities that week. And those 20 more opportunities times 52 weeks a year is 1040 more opportunities a year. And over 5 years that becomes 5200 more opportunities.

This is why you see people who have created a high level of consistency through having the self-discipline to do those extra things that they really don’t want to do, more often than not, come out further ahead than those who find an excuse to slack off.

Alessandro Vecchi

Brand and Marketing Strategist | Film Director | Photographer | Author

Self-discipline is the only effective remedy to get things done

Desires, dreams, aims, and words are irrelevant when presented to the bumpy road of everyday life.

Life is a journey and no journey is exactly as expected. This fact must be seen with joy because the unexpected make us stronger, smarter and keep our mind occupied.

Self-discipline is the only solution to make things happen because we tend to create routines. Every new desire or plan must pass through a period of digestion where the mind, thinking that is protecting us, will make everything possible to let us set this new intention apart.

Some say that we must fight for 60 days straight in order to convince our subconscious that this new habit deserves to be integrated in our daily life and make it become a new routine.

Self-discipline is the only key to make us win this battle, every battle. Life is a marathon, not a sprint! To make a sprint you just need an impulse, for a marathon instead, you must rely on conviction.

Mark Yates

Mark Yates

Owner, Promar Karate

Without self-discipline, we would never exercise or eat right. We would be more susceptible to drugs and over-indulging in alcohol if we couldn’t say no.

Self-discipline is essential to any success

When we are young our parents do that job for us. They make sure we don’t live on candy, have us go to bed on time and help us get up for school. When we get older we have to do those things ourselves.

Even if we weren’t taught the skill of self-discipline as children, we can develop it. When we practice self-discipline we use energy to take on tasks whether we want to or not because we know that the task – eating a healthy breakfast, getting a workout in, or going to work on time – is good for us.

Once a small task becomes a habit, we can apply our self-discipline to the next task on our list. Self-discipline isn’t fixed (as in we have it or we don’t); it is a mental muscle that everyone can develop or work on.

Catherine Tingey

Catherine Tingey

Life and Business Coach, Coach Cat

It primes us for the next amazing opportunity

I believe self-discipline is important because it primes us for the next amazing opportunity. Preparation is a way of saying to the universe, colleagues or just LinkedIn. ‘I’m ready! Throw me something bigger; I’ve got this!’

I’m a firm believer in the adage, luck comes to those who are prepared, and having a rigorous set of work habits, health habits, and life habits – which require self-discipline to maintain – ensure that whatever new opportunities present themselves, you’ll be ready for.

Anja Smith

Anja Smith

Writer | Speaker | Coach, Tradebiztoolbox

It is the ability to focus on a long-term goal

I’m a big goal setter. Or at least I became one at the age of 25 when I got a wild hare and decided to run a marathon while raising money for cancer research. Up to that point in my life, I was a world-class quitter.

I’d quit the Army. I’d quit college. I’d quit countless jobs. The journey of training for that race changed me, fundamentally, as a person.

It taught me the value of self-discipline.

In the eight years since, I’ve put many feathers in my cap – longer races, college degrees, weight loss, running multiple companies, and getting my personal finances in order.

Goal setting is a big part of that achievement, but no goal can be completed without self-discipline.

Every day, every minute, every second we make choices. Each one of those decisions has a consequence. It is the sum of those choices that decide if you reach your goal.

Self-discipline is the ability to focus on a long-term goal when faced with a barrage of choices.

Often those in-the-moment decisions are a temptation – an opportunity – to choose your goal or habit. Self-discipline means understanding that goals aren’t achieved by saying, ‘just this once won’t hurt.’

If we make an easy or comfortable choice, nothing in our lives will change. Old habits die hard and change is incredibly difficult.

That’s why self-discipline is so challenging – it means having to change our behavior and move out of our comfort zone. But the results of crossing a finish line – real or proverbial – is like a super boost.

Once you’ve exercised your self-discipline muscle enough to achieve something you really want, doing it again becomes easier. In fact, you will probably be ready to ‘level-up’ and try something harder. You keep going and going, getting better and better.

The good news is that at any given point, you only need to worry about or focus on the next choice. You don’t have to worry about how you are going to sustain something for years to come. Only worry about the next choice.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can self-discipline be harmful?

Self-discipline in itself is not harmful, but it can become harmful if taken to extremes or if it leads to neglecting one’s physical or mental health. When self-discipline becomes too rigid or inflexible, it can have negative consequences, such as:

Burnout: Overwork and neglect of self-care can lead to physical and mental exhaustion and, eventually, burnout.

Perfectionism: Striving for perfection can be unrealistic and lead to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

Self-criticism: Focusing too much on self-discipline can lead to excessive self-criticism and negative self-talk.

Social isolation: Excessive discipline can lead to social isolation and strained relationships with others.

It is crucial to maintain a balance between self-discipline and self-care and to be flexible and adaptable when needed. Self-compassion and forgiveness can also help prevent burnout or excessive self-discipline.

When self-discipline leads to excessive stress, anxiety, or other negative consequences, it may be essential to rethink one’s goals and strategies for achieving them.

How long does it take to develop self-discipline? 

The time it takes to build self-discipline depends on the individual and their specific goals and circumstances. Developing self-discipline is a continuous process that requires consistent effort and practice over time.

Some people see results within a few weeks, while others need several months or even years to develop strong habits of self-discipline. Remembering self-discipline is not an innate personality trait but a skill that can be learned and developed with practice and effort.

Consistent effort and practice over time can help strengthen self-discipline and make it a natural part of the daily routine.

What are common obstacles to self-discipline?

Self-discipline is often difficult to maintain because many obstacles can arise along the way. These can include:

Procrastination: It’s easy to delay important tasks or make excuses when they become inconvenient

Feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated: This can cause you to give up before you reach your goal

Distractions: This can be anything from notifications on social media to unexpected commitments that take us away from our focus

Fear or uncertainty: feeling uncertain about the outcome or fear of failure can cause us to halt progress

It’s important to recognize these obstacles and develop strategies to overcome them and move forward.

How can I measure my progress in self-discipline?

Measuring progress in self-discipline can be challenging because it often involves internal changes that are difficult to quantify. However, there are some ways to measure progress in self-discipline:

– Tracking daily habits and routines related to your goals
– Recording and celebrating small successes and progress along the way
– Reflecting on your attitude and approach to self-discipline
– Solicit feedback from others on your progress and areas for improvement
– Assess your overall productivity, efficiency, and satisfaction with your progress

What are the most common misconceptions about self-discipline?

That it always requires a lot of willpower and self-control: Self-discipline does require a certain amount of willpower and self-control, but it doesn’t have to be practiced 24/7. You must allow yourself some flexibility and balance in your daily routine.

That it’s only for highly motivated or successful people: Self-discipline is a skill anyone can develop, regardless of background or success. It can be learned and practiced over time.

That it’s a personality trait that cannot be learned or developed: Some people may believe that self-discipline is something you’re either born with or not. However, like any skill, it can be developed and strengthened through practice and effort.

That it means sacrificing pleasure and enjoyment in life: Self-discipline may require sacrifice in the short term, but it leads to greater satisfaction and success in the long term. It’s crucial to find a balance between self-discipline and enjoyment in life.

That it’s always positive and never leads to negative consequences: While self-discipline is generally a positive trait, it can also be harmful if taken to extremes or if one neglects one’s physical or mental health.

It’s important to recognize these misconceptions and understand that self-discipline is a complex and nuanced skill that requires balance and flexibility. Self-compassion and forgiveness can help prevent burnout or excessive self-discipline.

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