How To Learn Self-Discipline Without Losing Your Mind

We have all been there. Starting the day with the best of intentions, but as afternoon turns to night, you continue to put off that side project that should have been started (maybe even finished) weeks ago.

Day after day, you continue to fall into this trap, like you’re in the middle of the movie Groundhog Day. Now you’re trying to figure out how to learn self discipline because yet another day has come and gone, and you’re still sitting just scrolling through on your phone or laptop.

Here’s a few tips on how to learn self-discipline without completely losing your mind.

How To Learn Self-Discipline

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What Is Self-Discipline?


/ˈˌself ˈdisiplin/


  1. the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.


How to learn self-discipline all comes down to one thing: mindset


How To Learn Self-Discipline

Why Don’t I Have Any Self-Discipline?

Truth be told, you probably do have some self-discipline. However, lack of motivation, focus, critical thinking skills, physical energy, and the right type of goals could be contributing to your inability to follow through.

You need a clear vision of what you want for the future, and the belief that this vision is possible.

One study found that adults who envision their goals alongside challenges they may face, and brainstorm actions they can take to overcome these challenges, were more likely to attain their goals (as long as they were fully committed).

Thinking ahead, and developing goals that are achievable (even if they aren’t easy) will contribute to your ability to stay disciplined.

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How Do I Keep Myself Disciplined?

Know What You Want

The first step for how to learn self-discipline is to define your goals and the motivation behind why you are going to be putting forth the effort.  You need to write down your goal and think of the WHY (or reason) behind it.

Your reasons should go beyond the surface. Wanting to live a healthy lifestyle so that you can live a longer life for your children is a much stronger motivator than wanting to be able to wear that old bikini in your drawer. 

Without a strong WHY you will have a difficult time staying motivated and disciplined. Write out a detailed description of what it is that you want, why you want it, and what you are willing to sacrifice to get it.

Keep this in a place you can look at every single day.

To go a step further, keep a list of motivational triggers, or things that spark inspiration. This can be a dream board, a journal, photos, art, music, etc.


Related: 5 Simple Steps To Creating An Awesome Vision Board


How To Learn Self-Discipline

Start Small

In Japanese culture there is a concept called Ikigai, or reason for being. This idea is that of living a fulfilling, yet humble, life of purpose. There are five components, or pillars, of Ikigai that contribute to a purposeful life, and the first pillar is to start small.

Starting small allows you to gradually make changes. You can start with just one tiny thing, like preparing food ahead of the week, that will contribute to your desire to live a healthier lifestyle. Once you have mastered this skill, you can begin to add another that will contribute to your goal, such as taking a walk every day.

Many people make the mistake of trying to change everything all at once. This is a set up for burnout and disappointment. By starting small, you can put forth your effort on just that one change and become very, very good at it. 



Decide You Won’t Give Up

If you haven’t read the book, You Are A Badass by Jen Sintero, I highly recommend you check it out. The reason being is that this book describes a way of thinking about your desires, and makes it easy to decide never to give up! Jen is the perfect combination of a coach giving you “real talk” on how to learn self-discipline while also being a cheerleader and telling you to go for it.

By having this mental note in your head that you can always refer back to, you will find the ability to control your feelings, overcome your weaknesses, and stay disciplined.



How To Learn Self-Discipline

What Are Some Daily Exercises To Practice Self Discipline?

Develop A Plan Or Routine

Thinking ahead is the best way to prepare for obstacles and challenges that may hinder your ability to stay focused.  A step-by-step plan is a great resource to refer back to when you aren’t sure what to do next. 

A detailed plan is also the best way to avoid temptation.  Writing out your intentions will hold you more accountable,  and will also help to remind you of what you want to set out and do.

Similar to developing a plan, a routine will reinforce the habits you want in your life. Start by waking up at the same time every day, and doing the most important tasks in the morning.


Track Yourself

Tracking your goals is a great way to keep up the motivation and see the progress you have made.

I use an app to track tiny goals I have set. This has been a great way for me to stay disciplined as I always have a little reminder on my phone when it’s time to do yoga or read a book.

The app I have found to be most useful is Daylio. I originally downloaded it to keep track of my daily moods, but with the upgrade you can also track goals. It has repeat reminders that you can set for a specific time every day. So far this year, I have had a 30 day streak!

How To Learn Self-Discipline

Don’t Dwell On Mistakes

Starting new habits and changing your daily routines can be difficult, especially if you are making major changes.  Don’t let failure keep you from moving forward. If needed, start with the smallest task, and once you have mastered this for at least 3 weeks, add another. As mentioned before, it is much easier to start small and build from there.

You can also find a group that can keep you motivated to stick with it. There are countless challenges, support groups, and meetings that can be found on Facebook, MeetUp (the app), or even just your local newspaper.



Time-blocking is used to decrease distractions and set out time to work on your goals. By having a dedicated set of time to work, whether it be a few hours a week or a few minutes a day, you will have no excuses to get started.

The Pomodoro Technique is a very common method  which consists of 25 minutes of working, 5 minutes of break time. After 2 hours, you take a 15-30 minute break. There are plenty of apps that can help with the timing of this so you don’t have to continue checking the clock.



Believe it or not, some people work exceptionally well under pressure.  While procrastination is not the typical route for how to learn self-discipline,  it can be the right method for those who need a certain type of motivation. Keep in mind that this can cause increased stress and anxiety for some people, but for others, it may be exactly the right amount of pressure to just get it done.

What are you doing to stay disciplined?

Leave a comment below!

Brit Mallard

Brit Mallard is a blogger, educator, and mental health advocate with a dual degree in Psychology and Sociology as well as a Masters in Education. Brit is the Founder of Fully Flourishing where she teaches others about various topics within the realm of mental health and psychology. She loves to write about research in positive psychology, neuroscience, and personal growth.

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