Select Page

How to develop self discipline? 18 tips for becoming a disciplined person

How to develop self discipline? 18 tips for becoming a disciplined person

How to develop self discipline? How to be a disciplined person? Maybe you are a student or an adult who needs more discipline. Then you are at the right place. In this article you will find tips and examples to develop self discipline and self control.

Contents of this page:

Is it difficult to apply discipline? Your ‘instinct’ thinks impulsive decisions are healthy!

The urge to snack, for example, is because your instinct wants to protect you: it wants to feed your fight-flight response with that candy.

Then the whole bucket of energy is directed to your running or fighting ability, and not to your thinking ability, making the logical decision that candy is not good for you becomes difficult to follow. The fight-flight response wants to make you impulsive to protect you.

How can we gain more self-discipline and willpower in order to become a disciplined person? Let’s look at the proven tips below to learn how to be more disciplined …

Tip 1 – Dopamine is one of the main culprits … Use it to your advantage for willpower!

Dopamine is the culprit when your willpower and discipline isn’t strong enough to overcome your impulsive tendencies. Stores make your dopamine stronger through free samples, fragrances, discounts, beautiful women and “your chance to save money!”

How do you use this to your advantage? Dopamize things that are boring but good for you. Find a way to use your dopamine to make your tasks fun! Be creative about this.

Tip 2 – How to become disciplined? Train your discipline muscle by making it a habit

Strengthen your willpower muscle by making it a habit. Train it to become a habit, or an impulse, to do the right thing. This way it gets a little easier every time.

This can be trained in two ways:

  • By having discipline not to do unwanted things. For example, put a jar of candy in the hallway that you pass every day!
  • By having the discipline to do desired things. Make your bed immediately when you get up. This is already a practical action with which your discipline muscle is used. Ideal to start your day with ‘discipline’ in quotation marks, because it is not that much trouble. It is about the ‘idea’ of applying discipline.

I don’t negotiate with myself. I’m just doing what’s right for me. I have high standards and I’m not going to waste my time arguing with my ego.
– Tony Robbins

Tip 3 – Use Daniel Kahneman’s theory: let your thinking brain warm up for a while

Read Daniel Kahneman’s theory (Our Infallible Thought) and simply enable system 2. Take a deep breath and wait a few seconds for the motor of your logical, thinking, controlling, willpowering brain to have time to warm up.

However, you can not appeal to that disciplined thinking computer of yours too often in a day. It always takes a lot of energy to start up that computer in your brain. Mental strength may make you even more tired than physical strength. See next tip …

Tip 4 – Your willpower can run out (and it can also be replenished)

training discipline

You are running out of willpower, for example after a long exam week with only study … That is why it is so important to take breaks. And that’s why heroes and the best professionals sometimes go wrong and cause scandals: their willpower was completely exhausted.

Your discipline and willpower grows when your body is healthier and stronger. So take breaks, get outside, relax, minimize distractions, focus , go to bed early and notice how your willpower has been replenished!

Steve Jobs put on the same clothes every day. Why? Every moment in which you have to choose your outfit takes about five decision moments. So your mental power is called upon five times. Steve Jobs could spend these five decisions every day on important choices for his multi-billion dollar business, without his wardrobe taking up that important force.

You have mental strength for 27 qualitative decisions per day. Steve Jobs already eliminated 5 decision moments with his clothes. He could now use that power for decisions in his multi-billion dollar business.

Tip 5 – Beware of “I’m doing so well, now I deserve a little treat”

Making progress in a goal can lead to sabotaging behavior for that same goal: be prepared that at some point you may decide that it’s time to treat yourself to something that will turn you in the opposite direction …

Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
– Will Rogers

Tip 6 – Have a goal / vision and visualize it: this encourages willpower and self-control

If you have a goal and you pursue it, self-discipline comes naturally because it becomes fun and because you use the power of delayed gratification over instant gratification (the Marshmellow Test).

Arnold Schwarzenegger, only Mr. Becoming a universe at the age of 20, because he had a purpose. Before him he saw the Mr. Universe title every time he squatted 250 pounds. He did it with a big grin because every repetition brought him closer to making that vision a reality. He couldn’t wait to squat another 250 pounds and do another 2,000 sit-ups.

If you don’t have a vision of where you are going, you hit everywhere and nowhere.
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Why would you visualize your goal? Self-control drastically diminishes if the target is or appears further away. It is simply worth less to you. So make the distance to the target shorter and make it more visible. You do this, for example, by visualizing your goal , seeing your top performance in front of you or by describing your ideal day in the future. You give your body a taste of the future.

Tip 7 – Keep distractions out of sight: discipline can also come from the environment

One of the peculiar side-conclusions of the famous Marshmellow test in children of 4 years old was: the smart kids could resist the temptation by not looking at it!

A few examples:

  • Keep distractions such as candy, or your triggers, out of sight.
  • Turn off as many social media notifications as possible.
  • Only do healthy shopping.
  • Silence your phone.

Tip 8 – Use the law of ‘loss aversion’ to boost your willpower

discipline train willpower

Loss aversion means: losing is worse than the amount of luck you get from winning. Do you want 50 euros or 90 euros in a week? Then the choice is simple: almost everyone opts for 90 euros in a week. But what if I now hand you a 50 note, and then immediately ask you if you want to exchange it now so that you will receive 90 euros in return in a week? Many more people then said no! Because they already had the note in their hands and therefore did not want to lose it.

Use this to your advantage!  Imagine that you already have the long-term benefits and you lose them if you do something for immediate pleasure …

Tip 9 – Take care of your future self: you are that person too!

Why should you take care of your current self and not your future self? They are both the same person. Think about your future self!

Tip 10 – Rehearse the use of discipline for your pitfalls

Do you know yourself well and do you already know what pitfalls you can encounter when you are busy with something full of discipline? So rehearse in advance what you are going to do if that pitfall comes. You can interweave this in a behavior generator technique , for example .

Tip 11 – Learn discipline? You just have to take baby steps

You don’t have to go through that big change that you want to achieve in one go. Use the power of micro learning aka Kaizen . For example, do you want to go to bed early? Then go to bed 5 minutes earlier every night.

Milton Erickson instructed his claustrophobia clients to go into a closet and close the door one millimeter further. Or he instructed nail biters to save 1 extra finger each time.

Tip 12 – How do you get more self-discipline? Pull yourself through the initial phase for a moment


The great thing about discipline is that you only need it in the early stages of your challenge. Do you still have to make that one piece of work that you have been putting off for a long time? You only need a short discipline shot to get started at all. As soon as you are busy, you keep going automatically and easily! So resolve to work for just 5 minutes!

The same goes for longer habits, such as addictions or wanting to get up earlier. The first few weeks will be the most difficult and you will have to apply a lot of discipline for that. After that it gets easier.

Tip 13 – Discipline works, but sometimes the situation requires a solution from the core: your subconscious

It is smart to at least investigate and improve the undercurrent of a challenge, so that it becomes much easier to get up earlier, for example. So solve the underlying problem, which lies in the subconscious .

You can do this, for example, by looking at the positive intention  of the unwanted behavior and by reframing it in a number of steps.  This is also a permanent solution.

In this article you will learn more about the subconscious and how you can use it to solve a problem from the core, instead of having to use discipline in a conscious way.

Tip 14 – Put your challenge in the light of your larger mission

learning self-discipline

You will naturally get a lot more willpower and discipline if you know what you are doing it for. Are you letting addiction get in the way of the greater purpose you are working on? This is also a reframing (see previous tip).

Your mission is most powerful to put your behavior in the light of that. However, you can also do this with other logic levels , as long as they are at a higher level than behavior. Your values, for example!

The quote below is so relevant that I mention it for the second time in this article:

I don’t negotiate with myself. I’m just doing what’s right for me. I have high standards and I’m not going to waste my time arguing with my ego.
– Tony Robbins

Tip 15 – Provide fuel: discipline becomes a breeze when you have an intense desire

An intense desire solves the whole discipline problem. Then you don’t even need discipline anymore.

This is a tip with which you tackle the ‘undercurrent’ of the problem. You can consciously build up discipline in the upstream, but if the undercurrent pushes you the other way …

Let’s just set the undercurrent in the right direction! Then you no longer even have to consciously work on your discipline or willpower, because then it will happen automatically!

How do you ensure that intense desire? It is a very specific principle, with which you can also implement powerful visualization techniques.

  • Tony Robbins calls this the ‘leverage technique’.
  • There is an NLP model that has renamed this the ‘Dickens technique’ .
  • It is also known as the ‘pain pleasure principle’.

In short, you will feel and visualize very strongly how bad it is if you do not make the desired changes. Then you do the same for the scenario in which you do improve yourself.

You can easily change habits and gain discipline and willpower with this technique . The pain-pleasure principle is described in detail here 

Tip 16 – Believe that you are a person with a lot of self-discipline and willpower

What you believe becomes true to you. So install within yourself the belief  that you can do it and then self-discipline will become easier for you.

Tip 17 – Just know and acknowledge your weaknesses: just admit it so you can tackle it

discipline recognize weakness

We all have weaknesses. Whether it’s chips, a video game, or Facebook … Just acknowledge them, instead of pretending they don’t exist. Forgive yourself for this and then take responsibility for dealing with them.

Feel free to use ‘tricks’ to help you. You don’t have to do it all on my own. “Yes, but I also have to be able to do it myself …” Put a big stick in the door and ‘kick’ your brain is allowed.

So feel free to use the tips from this article or join a mastermind group for a big stick and just speak out for your weaknesses in the meantime.

Tip 18 – Want to learn discipline? Read this hard book about discipline

Discipline Equals Freedom will soon be one of the few books that has scored a thousand five-star reviews on Amazon within a year. It is a short book with hard lessons about discipline from Jocko Willink, an American Marine. He teaches us that discipline is the quality that will lead you to success.

Tip 19 – Be inspired by this story of an Austrian guy in America

Arnold Schwarzenegger went to America without money and without speaking the language. There he took a tough full-time job in construction, after which he immediately spent hours in the gym. And from 8:00 PM to 12:00 AM, he took acting lessons … to return to work the next morning.

Watch his powerful speech below:

Good luck developing willpower and self-discipline!

Good luck using these tips for more discipline and willpower!

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!