It takes a lot of self-discipline to accomplish anything worthwhile.

Most people aren’t disciplined. They’re not disciplined with money, they’re not disciplined with their diet, and they’re not disciplined when it comes to creating value and building their career. And without this critical skill, they won’t see consistent results. In fact, they will see the antithesis of what they want – they’ll have less money in their bank accounts, they’ll gain weight, and they’ll stay stuck behind the same old desk.

What’s surprising (or unsurprising) is that almost everyone recognizes the importance of self-discipline. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say; “self-discipline is key to success.” Yet very few people invest in building their self-discipline muscle. The majority neglect it.

The importance of self-discipline is thus no secret to the average person. The average person is already aware that it takes serious self-discipline to reach personal, professional and financial goals. But the secret is not in knowing what’s important for success, it’s in taking disciplined action.

Let’s look at a few tips to help you develop your self-discipline.

1. Master One Trade

We all want to be disciplined all around, and that’s certainly possible. However, if this is your first honest attempt to take self-discipline seriously, I recommend focusing on improving one and only one area of your life. Pick an area where you desire to see the most change and make it your focus.

But before jumping head first, I encourage you to start by adopting a growth oriented attitude. I encourage you to approach self-discipline with humility. This is a crucial and often forgotten step in the process of building self-discipline. Most people want to have self-discipline, but they don’t want to work for it. Wanting things easy always sets people up for failure. Please avoid this rookie mistake and be prepared to do some work. It’s going to take some effort but it’s worth it.

2. You’re Not Denying Yourself

If you want to improve your self-discipline, you have to make it your priority. Everything that’s not conducive to the development of this skill has to either take second place or must be completely eliminated. So if you like taking a nap every now and then, if you like watching mindless TV, if you like to spend time on the phone chatting with friends, then you have to reconsider these choices.

In this sense, self-discipline is not a mere addition to your life, it’s a substitute. You’re exchanging the time you used to waste on watching TV with time you’re going to spend on personal growth. And I say it’s a substitute because you simply can’t install a new operating system while also running a broken ones. You have to get rid of the old to make room for the new.

However, substituting one system with another is not going to be a smooth ride. In fact, your brain is programmed to resist change. Your brain is comfortable with what it’s already working with and replacing bad habits with good ones can be a little bit of a challenge. However, recognizing that fact going into the process makes it much easier to persist. That’s why it’s important to not view self-discipline as a process of denying oneself “comfortable” things. It will help you to articulate the “pain” of the transition in the following way:

My brain is programmed to resist change even if it’s good for me. If I am honest with myself, the discomfort I am experiencing with this transition is only temporary, and if I keep going, the discomfort will be replaced with the joy of becoming a better version of myself.”

3. Do One Thing a Day

Becoming self-disciplined is a process.

Don’t expect yourself to become superman in one day. Yet, I am not saying you should start slow (though I’ve suggested that starting slow is more effective to building self-discipline in this post: Self-discipline: How to Become More Disciplined?.)
Now I am not against pushing really hard at the beginning of the transformation process, but only if you can continue making some effort every single day. In other words, it’s counterproductive to work for 12 hours one day and do none for 3 or 4 days in a row. But if you feel like working for 12 hours today, then by all means go ahead and take advantage of that momentum, but you have to promise yourself to work for at least an hour or two the next day. I say this because you have to turn self-discipline into an ingrained pattern. It has to become a mode of behavior and not a once in a while act of inspiration.

Some people suffer from the lack of self-discipline because they have intruding thoughts. See this post to destroy negative thoughts once and for all.

Lastly, be patient my friend. Fruits take time to bear.