9 Steps To Cultivating Self-Discipline So You Can Achieve All Your Goals

Transformative Self-Discipline


Cultivating enduring self-discipline can be transformative. It’s the key to achieving goals without burning out or creating the emotional stress that usually accompanies all important missions in life. It can also help you shift and improve your character and completely change how you show up in the world and what you bring to the table.

9 Steps To Cultivating Self-Discipline So You Can Achieve Your Goals

don't limit yourself

As part of my recovery from depression, I started volunteering my time at NGOs and online forums. 

During that time, I met a lot of people who were going through situations that were unimaginable to me. I met addicts, former criminals, abuse victims, and all of them had gone through a very difficult journey to become better, stronger people. Their transformation was extreme and inspiring for it.

Broken, weak abuse victim with no will, no strength to stand up for themselves had recovered from their own trauma and were now advocating for others. Addicts who were now educating others on addiction recovery.  Criminals who now held law degrees or were counselling others who had just come out of prison, and these are just a few stand out example that I am choosing to share with you but there were other more subtle versions of the same thing.

It made me realise that there is nothing you cannot do if you are committed enough to your goals. If you truly want to achieve something, be someone, it can be done, no matter how drastic the transformation may be.

I want this belief to shift your mindset in a way that crushes all your fears and self-doubt. Wherever you’re currently in your journey, whatever you see when you look in the mirror, it can all change with enough effort. You can make it to wherever you want to go, you just have to show up for yourself.

If you want to be disciplined in life, have stronger self-control, you can do it. There is not a single challenge that you cannot overcome.

What do your goals need

As I shared above, if you want to be disciplined, you can be and if it hasn’t worked in the past, it may be because you don’t really believe that your goals need discipline.

If you carry this knowledge with you, it will impact how you show up and you have to be aware of that.

You can accomplish whatever you want to accomplish if you’re truly committed and that commitment can only come if you believe that the path you’re walking is the only one that will get you to your desired goal. We are built to seek comfort so to do hard things, you have to really up your commitment and cultivate awareness around where you’re going, what’s it gonna take for you to get there, and why it matters to you.

Make your purpose your power

We all have a ‘WHY’ behind the things we do in life, especially if those things are hard and feel somewhat unnatural like getting up early in the morning, exercising, working 12 hours a day, so you can’t half ass it. Otherwise, it will work for a few days but you’ll revert to old habits very quickly.

So, you need to be fully committed and knowing your why will be massively helpful.

If you want do something really challenging, the end result has to matter to you or you’ll give up too soon.

You see, motivation has to be internal. You can’t outsource something so important. And your why is your motivation. 

So, discipline is hard but achieving anything really requires discipline which requires commitment and that requires investment, deep emotional investment in your WHY.

So, as part of the first step, bring a f*ck ton of self-belief, know that you can do it, no matter how difficult the journey gets. Commit fully and do it by understanding and investing in your WHY.

Clarity is key

The what, why, and how of your goal matters.

If you’re planning to run a marathon, you have to know exactly how it’s done, what it takes to be physically and mentally up for the task, and once you clearly understand what it takes, if it’s something you’ve never done before, be clear about your why, as we already discussed, and then get down to the how of it all. The method you’re going to follow.

Discipline in itself is a work of precision. So there has to be clarity around every aspect of your goal. 

make things easier for yourself with a Routine

Sticking to a routine can be difficult. Here’s what has worked for me

  • Getting up before everyone else in the house (only if your job and other commitment allow you to get up early without jeopardising your health). Those quiet hours in the mornings, it’s the most productive time. No distraction, no noise, it’s better for focused work and I don’t know about you but I also like the quite energy in the morning, with everyone else asleep, the energy just feels freer.
  • Plan a very carefully considered schedule that supports you, and is compatible with all the demands on your time because a good routine will take away the stress and not add to it.
  • Plan for each individual task so you can establish a smooth progression as soon as you wake up. It will take away all the decision fatigue. It also prevents procrastination. If your goals for the day are laid out and if you’ve picked clear priorities and given yourself a deadline, you’re less likely to procrastinate.

You’ll also create momentum from task #1 and hopefully keep your focus locked in.

It’s why we are so effective when the deadline kicks in. If I know the paper is due tomorrow, my focus is super sharp and I won’t procrastinate because it’s a do or die moment so if you follow a routine, you’ll be able to have that intensity everyday but without the emotional stress  and fear of a deadline.

  • Start small and build on it. Instead of trying to create a full day’s schedule, especially if you’ve never had a schedule before, start with half a day or a few hours of focused work. Maybe if you’ve no schedule, then maybe just start with getting up at a particular time everyday. Do that for a week. Then, fix a time for a workout. Do that for a week. Then, add in certain hours of productive work. Basically, don’t try to do too much at once. Instead, make small, little changes. Integrate them into your daily system fully and then move onto something new till you’ve got a system that’s comprehensive and that works perfectly for you.
  • Break tasks down into smaller units, and you won’t get overwhelmed.
  • Add in rewards. So, do it in a way that feels good. Too much of forceful work is toxic and not great for your mood and if your mood is bad, the same work will demand more energy and emotional and mental output.

BE realistic with your goals

You can’t go from no discipline to a completely regimented life. You will develop your willpower gradually. If you try to do too much, you’ll probably fail & disappoint yourself and that will dishearten you and you’ll give up forgetting that it’s the process that’s flawed, not you.

Plan for the challenges you will face. So, for example, If you want to wake up early, pick an exact time and have a plan ready for how you are going to keep yourself from falling back into sleep. 

So, what you need are realistic, specific, precise goals, clear plan to get to that goal, and also a backup plan to prevent failure.

be consistent

You will not become disciplined overnight. It’s a habit, a practice, a muscle that will get strengthened by repetition.

If you FORCE yourself to be disciplined for a few weeks, it will start to become a habit and you won’t need as much force. Eventually, after perhaps a few months, discipline will become part of your character. It will be who you are.

the morning is the foundation

Make good use of the first few hours of the day. You’ve to launch into your routine as soon as you wake up before your self-control lapses and you convince yourself to linger in bed, call up a friend, scroll the internet.

As soon as you wake up, move, move, move.

Perhaps, for soldiers discipline is easy but for the rest of us, not so much. We are comfort loving, emotional beings, prone to stress and easy exhaustion. So, before your brain convinces you to go down a path that feels good in the moment but ultimately hurts you, move, move, move. So, in daily life, that means, as soon as you wake up, launch into your routine. Do something productive like make your bed, turn the coffee machine on. Ask yourself, what are my priorities for today? What must I do to have a successful day?

Quickly, plan out your day. Don’t linger on the tasks of making to-do lists and filling your day planner because sometimes we get such a rush from just writing out the list that it gives us this false sense of achievement and tricks us into slowing down, taking away our momentum.

Just quickly plan your day and start moving. Better yet, have a plan ready to go.

Create a supportive environment

This can mean putting your phone in the other room and it can also mean, cutting out certain people from your life who make it hard for you to walk the path of discipline.

Depending on what your mission is, what you need the discipline for, you will have to create a supportive environment.

If there’s something in your environment that interferes with the process, get rid of it. If you need to add something to your environment, alarm clocks or a specific place for specific work, or a desk that faces the window, add it. Create the environment that supports your pursuit of discipline.

manage your mind

As you are working, if your mind wanders off, you can refocus with breathing exercises. You can also look at the watch and remind yourself of the plan for the day and reengage with the work but if discipline, for you, goes beyond just daily work, then, you need to manage your thoughts. 

When you face frustration or even failures along this path, stay optimistic and nurture your self-belief. Maintain a growth mindset which means continuing to believe that whatever the goal, we can achieve it with enough effort.

Meditate and learn emotional empowerment techniques so you can manage the chaos in life and remain in control of your emotions.

Use your Future self  to incentivise you

Visualise yourself 20 years down the line iff you continue on as you are VS you as a more disciplined version of your self.

See your future self. Imagine how that self will be impacted by the choices you are making. Visualise the life of that older self, if you make the wrong choice today.

It is an emotional exercise that makes you care for your future in a more effective way. It will be almost as if you are working to give a better life to someone you love.

Discipline is true power and you need to recognise it as such.

Disciplined people are happier people because they make better choices. They make choices that improve their life, bit by bit on a daily basis and they make choices that have massive results that compound overtime. They choose good over bad, and they are able to do hard things today to have happier, more comfortable tomorrow and they are also able to sustain those results.

Ask anyone happy and successful for the secret to their success, happiness, and wellbeing, and they’ll tell you that it was their willingness to give up their indulgences. It was their willingness to work their ass off, and to stick to the right path that got them the results they are revelling in today. Yes, they had the right opportunities at the right time, but they also made the best of those opportunities because of their habits and systems.

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I know what it’s like to fall apart and gradually put your pieces back together to build something better than what you had before and I share all my lessons in this space hoping that you will share my learnings without the struggle.


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