SELF-DISCIPLINE: Pursuing what’s right

  • PublishedNovember 29, 2011

There has been a lot of talk, and probably not enough action, on self-discipline. We are, for instance, urged severally by experts to develop self-discipline to improve our health, spiritual lives and finances, among many other aspects of our lives but how many of us actually strive to develop and nurture this vital quality? Probably not many.

Self-discipline is the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses. It is the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it. It is also the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state.

Steve Pavlina, an American motivational speaker, says discipline is like a muscle – the more you train it, the stronger it becomes and the less you train it, the weaker it becomes. He adds that although everyone has some level of self-discipline, just like everyone has different muscular strength, we all possess different levels of self-discipline. However, not everyone has developed their self-discipline to the same degree.

Pavlina’s analogy goes to say that just as it takes muscle to build muscle, it takes self-discipline to build self-discipline. To build self-discipline, pursue achievable goals that take you out of your comfort zone. Bear in mind that self-discipline cannot be built overnight. It is built over time. Start small. As mentioned earlier, you already have some little self-discipline that’s innate. Work with this to create greater self-discipline.

Schedule your daily tasks. Know what you are meant to be doing at a particular time. Write it down if you have to. Scheduling helps you focus on your priorities. Focus on starting tasks rather than completing them. This enables you to avoid procrastination.

Using this, build a routine. Instead of devoting a lot of hours in one day to a task, and none on the other and then a few on another day and so on, allocate a specific time each day of the week for that task. Use this time each day for that particular task. This helps you develop a routine.

Enhance this by monitoring the progress you have made. This will enable you to know what needs improvement and may also motivate you to keep working on developing more self-discipline. You may be tempted to give up, but press on and stick to your routine and you are well on your way to building the good habits you have always wanted to have. In addition, observe the people in your life and see to what extent self-discipline helps them accomplish goals. If need be, ask them for advice on what works and what does not.

The more disciplined you become, the easier life gets. Challenges that seemed impossible for you will eventually seem like child’s play. It is also important not to compare yourself to other people. You are not in a competition with anyone. Focus on doing your best and bettering yourself.



The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline.

Bum Philips, Retired American football coach

In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.

Harry S. Truman (1884 –1972), 33rd President of the United States

We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.

Jesse Owens (1913 –1980), American track and field athlete

Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do. Simply, self-discipline enables you to think first and act afterward.

Napoleon Hill (1883 –1970), American author

Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Author, Life’s Little Instruction Book

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself – and be lenient to everybody else.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813 –1887), Congregationalist clergyman and social reformer


Your thoughts

We need self-discipline in every area of our lives. Without it we cannot really move forward or make any advancements towards the excellence we all strive for.

Joy Kamene, Human Resource Officer  

Written By