The one person in this world who can help you become the best person is YOU.
But in order to do this, you need self-discipline—lots of it.
It’s not easy, but once you get the hang of it, you’re set for life.
In this article, I will give you 12 things that you can do daily to build self-discipline.
1) Don’t hit snooze
As tempting as it may be to sleep in for another 5 minutes, hitting snooze defeats the purpose of setting an alarm in the first place.
And if anything, sleeping for a little more after your alarm has already jolted you awake will do more harm than good. You’ll feel groggy and you’ll eventually start hating yourself for not sticking to your goals.
So instead of setting your alarm too early and hitting snooze when it goes off, try to instead set a realistic time and wake up when your alarm says it’s time.
I know it’s hard, but just simply doing this will make you feel good about yourself. Not only will it make you more productive, you’ll start to feel that you’re the type of person who has self-discipline…and this confidence matters a lot in building other habits.
2) Make your bed—no excuses!
Making your bed in the morning might seem like a small thing—it’s something that you can do in a minute or less, after all—but the good it does is nothing to scoff at.
Aside from the obvious thing (having a clean room), it has a good psychological effect. Just knowing that you’ve done something good for yourself the first five minutes after waking up is enough to make you feel good.
3) Visualize your day
That is to say, make it a daily ritual to think positive thoughts about how your day would go. Try doing this before you rise from your bed or while you’re having a shower.
Imagine what you’ll do from the time you get out of bed to the time you return. Imagine in detail how you’ll be productive and how you’ll say no to things like junk food or alcohol.
Do it consistently enough and whatever thoughts you will entertain will stick to your subconscious. And once it’s firmly there, it will effortlessly guide you through your day.
As a side note, this is why you should avoid entertaining negative thoughts, especially early in the day.
4) Make a to-do list the night before
Every productive person I know has a to-do list.
Not only does it make you remember the things you have to do, it also calms you down because you won’t be left wondering if you forgot something.
Doing your list at night is much better than doing it first thing in the morning. You’re more relaxed and you can reflect on how your day went so that you can use it as a guide for what you want tomorrow.
5) Finish the most important tasks before noon
While everyone is different and you have to find your best time to work, studies show that for most people, the most productive time to work is between 9am to 11am. So it’s a good idea to work on the most important tasks before lunch.
There are many benefits to this. First, you’ll actually enjoy your lunch knowing you’ve already accomplished your main tasks. And second, you’ll feel like you own your afternoons.
You can be more relaxed—and you can even insert a quick nap—because you already finished a big chunk of your work.
6) Check your life goals when you feel unmotivated
Make a list or a collage of your life goals. I’m talking about your dream house, your dream job, your dream place to settle…even your dream body.
Print it out or make it your phone wallpaper so that you can look at it and remind yourself of your goals whenever you find yourself feeling lazy or demoralized.
It would help to write down the little steps you need to take along the way as well but don’t make it overwhelming. The point is just to remind yourself of the life you want.
7) Set time for breaks
You might think that resting is unproductive and that it means you lack self-discipline. But there’s such a thing as productive rest—the kind of rest that’s necessary for you to keep going—and this is very important.
These are quick walks or short naps or even quick social media scrolls to recharge. They serve as small treats or rewards you give yourself so you will get more productive afterwards.
Focusing too much on productivity to the point that you deprive yourself of breaks is the quickest way to burn out. So take breaks if you truly care about your productivity.
8) Reflect on your struggles
It’s inevitable that in trying to build self-discipline there are just things you’ll struggle with.
Perhaps you want to lose some weight, but you’re having issues trying to say no to your favorite snacks. Or perhaps you want to write a book, but you can’t find time to write.
Just trucking along without giving your issues a closer look is one way to set yourself up for failure. You can’t resist temptations very well if you don’t spare a moment to think about why you’re so tempted in the first place.
For example, you might want to take a closer look at why you’re having a hard time saying no to snacks. Maybe you see them as comfort foods and you eat them when stressed.
From there you can look into ways to fix up your issues. For this example, it must be time to learn how to handle stress better. It can help you resist the temptation to just give up.
9) Bundle your habits
One way to make sure that a new habit sticks is by bundling it to other already-established habits.
To show you what I mean, imagine that you have your wake-up routine of waking up at six, taking a shower, and then doing your skincare routine before going to eat breakfast.
If you insert writing after your shower, it’ll be easier for you to make that habit stick.
Instead of making big, wild changes to your schedule, try to tweak and adjust pre-existing habits instead. Add one at a time to avoid overwhelm.
10) Scare yourself a few seconds a day
Pressure isn’t always the best thing. Taken past a certain degree, it can easily cause mental health issues, so there’s a chance this piece of advice isn’t for you.
You know yourself best so if you think that pressure will only make things worse for you, don’t do this.
But if you can actually stand giving yourself a bit of a fright every so often, it can be useful to remind yourself of what’s at stake.
Imagine the worst case scenario if you keep doing the same thing day in and day out.
For example, it would help to remind yourself of what might happen if you don’t eat right and keep eating junk food. It might not be particularly bad now, but you might end up ruining your kidneys before you reach 40.
If you’re too lazy brushing your teeth, imagine all of them rotting when you’re 30.
If you spend your money like you won the lottery, imagine yourself ending up so broke that you have to beg your enemies for money just to stay alive.
These images will hopefully push you to become more self-disciplined.
11) Monitor your progress
There are plenty of apps that can help you monitor your daily habits. I know a lot of people whose lives were transformed because of these apps. So go find one that suits you best.
And if you don’t want to use apps, you can do it old school style by making a to-do list on a notebook and checking it every so often.
That said, apps have the advantage of being very easy to check anywhere and everywhere you can carry your phone. And they’re very well-organized too!
Another tip is by setting your alarm every 2-3 hours. And when it rings, think of your productivity. Doing this will snap you back to reality and focus on the tasks to be done.
12) Think of a reward at the end of the day
What better way to keep yourself going than by dangling a carrot on a stick? Provided that, well, you actually give yourself that carrot at the end of the day for a job well done.
You don’t have to treat yourself to a five-star meal every time, of course. Just give yourself a reasonable reward—perhaps a movie or a relaxing bath—if you ever get through the day without breaking your goals.
This will hopefully push you to work hard even on the worst days.
Building self-discipline takes time, so be patient with yourself as you work on becoming the better version of you.
To speed up your progress, apply the daily habits mentioned in this list. Make sure you only add one at a time so you won’t be overwhelmed.
I guarantee you that if you stick to them, you’ll become one of the most self-disciplined people you’ll know that you’ll hardly recognize yourself!
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.