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How to build self-discipline to actually take action on your goals and reach your full potential.

In order to develop self-discipline, you will have to intentionally take action.

Self-discipline is all about putting off instant gratification in favor of your long-term goals.

Before doing something that is uncomfortable or that requires effort you are not going to feel like it.

That is completely normal.

However, the average person allows that feeling to overcome them. Therefore, they don’t take action.

If you want to be a disciplined person, you’ve got to start pushing through that discomfort.

Make your goals a higher priority than your emotional state.

Below I offer you a few ways to start building your self-discipline so you can live to your fullest potential.

Raise your standards

Despite what you believe, you have created the life you currently live.

There are areas in your life, past and present, that you can’t control but you still have designed your life as it is.

The best news ever is that you can change it.

Start by raising your standards.

Based on your life standards, you have a baseline of what is acceptable in all areas of your life.

If you have high standards, you are more likely to be particular about the people in your life and the actions that you take. You expect a lot more from yourself and FOR yourself.

If you have low standards, you probably don’t care as much about the people around you or the things you do.

For example, you may hold a high standard for the person you are in a relationship with. You have an idea of the ‘bare minimum’ requirements of your significant other. 

They cannot physically hurt you, yell at you, they must have personal goals, they must love dogs, etc.

So if you start dating someone and they yell at you…that’s a huge no and you break it off. This is because your standards are high for who you are in a relationship with.

Similarly, ff you raise your standards for YOURSELF. You will turn your ‘shoulds’ into ‘musts.’ Simply because that is who you want to be.

Low standards lead to a mediocre life.

Your standards are demonstrated by who you are, who you are around, your appearance, and your life.

Get clear about your goals

What do you actually want to achieve in life? This year? This month?

If you’re not taking the time to get clear about your goals, you won’t be disciplined and you won’t have high standards for yourself.

What do you truly want to achieve?

Now with that in mind, it’s important to ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • Am I willing to put in the effort/time required to reach that goal?
  • What standard do I hold for myself in regard to this goal?

When you get clear about your goals and your why you will do what it takes to reach them.

You MUST have a strong why and constantly remind yourself of it.

In the moment, being disciplined sucks. It’s uncomfortable, it’s difficult, and you won’t want to do it. But if you’re clear about your goals and committed, you’ll follow through.

Identify your weaknesses

Your weaknesses will hold you back from greatness.

Identifying your weaknesses allows for personal growth and a greater understanding of yourself.

The idea is not to focus on your weakness, but rather to manage them by being aware of them and working on them.

You will often use your weaknesses as an excuse or a limiting belief, but we want to work on removing any thoughts of the sort.

For example, you may say, “I’ve just always been a huge procrastinator,” or “I’m not a morning person.” But those are just stories in your mind about your past. You can be whoever you want to be.

Figure out what you can do to improve in those areas of your life instead and you will experience massive personal growth.

Remove temptations

There’s a reason I don’t buy vegan ice cream on a regular basis. I will eat the whole thing in one sitting!

Until you identify as someone who is disciplined, make things easier on yourself by removing temptations.

If you’re trying to be productive when you get home from work, don’t allow yourself to go to your bedroom or living room until a certain time. 

If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t allow any junk food in your home.

If you’re trying to wake up earlier, don’t keep your alarm right next to your bed where you can easily hit the snooze button.

Our life is filled with distractions and temptations, and the more you can overcome those, the easier it will be to become disciplined.

Create a plan and prepare for obstacles

Whatever it is you want to achieve or be disciplined in, create a detailed plan.

Today you may tell yourself that you will do x, y, and z tomorrow evening. Tomorrow evening you will probably feel completely different from today.

The most common obstacle you will face is yourself. You are not going to feel like it.

The key is to know that this is going to happen and decide ahead of time that you are going to do it anyway. There is no big secret here, you just do it.

You will also face external obstacles. This includes things like your child getting sick and having to take care of them or a bad storm causing a power outage. 

Obstacles are going to happen because life happens. What are you going to do?

Manage your emotions

Your thoughts and emotions play a HUGE role in the decisions you make.

Feelings and emotions can be really distracting, but instead of dwelling in them and allowing them to overcome you, take charge.

I do this almost every morning when I wake up way earlier than I need to be up.

I feel tired and just want to crawl back in bad.

I used to dwell in the feeling for half of my morning. Negative thoughts would repeat in my head such as, “Why am I doing this?” “What is life?”

Now, I simply observe that I’m tired and think, “Oh, I’m just tired and that’s OK.”

The difference is AMAZING.

I’m just tired and I know I’ll be fine. I just do what I do and make my morning better by thinking that way.

I am not telling you to ignore your feelings.

You may have moments where you are genuinely sad or angry and you just want to feel that way.

However, be aware of those emotions. You can still decide to just feel those feelings and follow through as you had already planned.

Start small

Becoming disciplined doesn’t happen overnight. It is going to take time and effort.

You can try to do all the things, but you will increase your chances of failing.

To make discipline a part of who you are, you must start small.

Your lack of discipline goes back years and years. 

Remember when you would procrastinate on homework?

When you would disobey your parents or teachers?

When you wouldn’t sit still or quiet in a waiting room?

When you wouldn’t submit assignments on time?

Your past does not define you, but it definitely shapes you. And your past decisions have lead you to be how you are today.

Meaning, you trained yourself to be UNdisciplined for years. It may take years to overcome that.

If you want to get in shape for example but you never go to the gym and constantly eat out, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to maintain working out daily and only eating healthy home-cooked meals.

Instead, start so small that you will absolutely do it.

Commit to a 20-minute walk 3 times a week. Commit to eating at least 1 serving of vegetables a day.

Then as you become disciplined around one habit, build onto it or add something else.

Focus on actions – not motivation

How often are you consuming content? How often are you looking for the one article or video that is going to give you the perfect answer to live the life of your dreams?

It won’t come.

Motivation doesn’t last.

I am all for consuming motivational content. I actually listen to motivational people every single day while I get ready in the morning, during my commutes, and even while I work out.

There is a ton of valuable information and content out there, but more important is the action you are taking.

You’re not going to feel motivated all the time and you know that.

When it comes down to doing something you said you would do, you’re not going to feel like it. That is completely normal.

However, that is exactly the moment you need to push through that resistance and take action. This will build your discipline.

Every day do at least one thing that will improve your life or get you closer to your goal.

Get a coach

If you’ve ever had a personal trainer at the gym, you probably showed up for every training session.

If you were given a deadline to complete something by your boss, you made sure to complete it.

Unfortunately, so many people don’t prioritize their own commitments.

How many times have you skipped the gym even though you said you would go?

How often do you watch Netflix instead of working or studying like you said you would?

This is where a coach can benefit you.

While you build your discipline, having someone there to guide you and hold you accountable is powerful.

You can learn so much about yourself by being coached.

Not only will a coach give you the drive to start changing your habits, but you’ll learn ways to maintain those habits and make them stick.

If you’re interested in being coached by me for self-discipline, productivity, time management, or goal-setting, email me at to schedule a free introductory call.

Learn more about my coaching program here.

Don’t give up

While self-discipline is certainly one of the most important traits for success, it’s not the only one.

Another major key is GRIT.

Grit means to have passion and perseverance. If you have grit you are more likely to achieve long-term goals because you commit.

With grit, you won’t give up on something you truly want, especially when things get hard.

When progress is slow or you’re not seeing results, you just keep going.

Most people can’t do that because they lack the mental strength to keep going.

Instead, decide that you are going to make this happen no matter what!

These tips are useless to you if you don’t deliberately make them a part of your life.

Developing self-discipline is not easy, but you can start working toward it right now.

Make yourself proud.

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4 thoughts on “How to Build Self-Discipline

  1. Thank you Leila for this post. I am 53 yrs old and struggling with self-discipline. I enjoyed reading your blog and the way you come across, it’s like chatting to a friend over a cuppa 🙂
    The one thing that stirred me was the quote
    “ What do you truly want to achieve?

    What do I TRULY want to ACHIEVE?? I’ve asked the question what is my passion, what am I here to do, what do I like??? All the normal stuff. But what do I truly want to achieve? This is a soul searching question and a different way of looking at things.
    I don’t know the answer, I’m not sure if I have ever looked at it that way? But…. it’s given me food for thought, thank you Leila 🙂

    Posted on January 24, 2020 at 7:38 am
    1. Thanks for reading and I’m glad you like it Christina!
      The best thing about that is you can now explore what it is you want to go after and I think that’s pretty exciting 😊

      Posted on January 24, 2020 at 11:35 am
  2. Thank you, Leila, for the post. I am struggling every day with motivational video as you call it content
    I decided to work on the action mode and stop myself to listen to those videos.
    I do think as you didn’t mention it on your post that people should read self-help books because true-life experiences come from and we can learn from them

    Posted on February 1, 2020 at 9:15 am
    1. It can get easy to fall into “passive action,” where you are learning/listening to positive content, but not actually applying it.
      Good for you for recognizing that you are doing that.
      I still listen to things all the time, I just make sure to actually take as much action as I can as well!
      Thank you for reading and commenting. ❤️

      Posted on February 2, 2020 at 11:56 pm