7 Simple Steps to Build Self-Discipline

We all have goals but, without self-discipline, it'll leave many of us stuck. With this is mind, I'm sharing (7) steps to building self-discipline.

December 31, 2020

Self-discipline. Let’s be honest. If you’re anything like me, it’s a work in progress wrapped in good intentions, a sprinkle of procrastination, and the fear of failure. Like most of you, 2020 has been filled with new life lessons, uncertainty, loss, and maybe even fear. But on the flipside, there was always a ram in the bush somewhere, some gain, growth, and just enough strength left to help you to push through regardless of some of the many hardships’ life threw at us this year.

I bet that with 2020 coming to an end and 2021 knocking at your front door you’ve already created a list of things that you’re going to do differently with your clean slate am I correct? Yeah, me too, however, even with a list of goals, several planners, and your favorite content planning apps, one thing that will prevent us from crushing our goals is self-discipline.  Being face-to-face with anxiety & depression, issues on my job, & struggles in school many days I found it difficult to push past the noise. The distractions of life sometimes made my journey a bit blurred and unattainable. I decided that not only was it important for me to create goals and strategies, I also needed to develop more self-discipline.

What Is Self- Discipline?

According to Webster's dictionary, self-discipline is defined as “correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.” My favorite definition of self-discipline is “the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.” Think about it, you make plans to do the laundry on said date because you already know that is the only day you’d realistically have to get it done. The day that you commit to doing it, set reminders for, and wrote in your planner arrives and you just don’t feel like it.

Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve got laundry on lock, how about reading a chapter a day, or waking up early, exercising, meal prepping etc. All of these things go unaccomplished JUST because we don’t feel like it. Our feelings tend to really get in our way. Some of, if not all of these things that I just listed have been pushed to the wayside at some point all because I didn’t feel like it.

If I can be honest, many things didn’t go my way or change all because of these two words…Self-Discipline. Without self-discipline, it doesn’t matter how many books you read, planners that you buy, or content apps you use; the lack of self-discipline will have you showing up very little or not at all. It’s that ability to perform, to keep your promises, and to meet those deadlines essential for success.

Without self-discipline, you simply won’t have the momentum to make the progress you want.  If you have made it this far you probably know someone who needs to read this, or, I’ve just read you like a book lol As I stated in the beginning, it is a work in progress WE are works in progress! Change takes time and it takes sacrifice. Sacrificing the old versions of us for a revised, successful, and more disciplined version of ourselves. So, now that we’ve identified that we need more self-discipline lets look at (7) steps that we can use to help us develop self-discipline.

PHOTOGRAPHY// Stacy Powell

(7) Steps to Building Self-Discipline

1.     Create Personal/ Internal Value & Meaning

What is driving you toward this goal? What value will achieving this goal bring to you? Creating personal value in your goals, and constantly remind yourself of your motivations and inspirations, will help you develop self-discipline. I plan to use these questions as a roadmap to journaling some of these answers.

2.    Identify & Overcome Obstacles

Challenges, hardships, and barriers are an inevitable part of the journey toward any goal. They will test your resolve. These obstacles must be transcended in order to keep moving toward your goal. What obstacles are between you and your goal?

3.    Identify Changes that must be Made

What kind of person do you need to be to reach your goal? What are the specific habits and behaviors of that person? What qualities and skills would they have? What thoughts do they think? How can you take consistent and gradual steps to become that person? What habits and behaviors can you focus on today that would get you closer to thinking and being like that person?

4.   Develop a POA (Plan of Action) and Commit

Create a comprehensive step-by-step plan of action, addressing the factors listed above. Map every step — detail what is specifically required for each step, how you will take action everyday to make progress, how you will tackle obstacles, and how you will change your environment to enable your momentum. Prioritize the things you can do everyday. Create milestones and rewards for each step towards your goal.

5.    Focus on Changing your Identity, Not your Behavior

This comes from a concept called “identity-based habit,” which is actually in a book (that I need to finish) by James Clear called Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad ones. The idea is that if you want to change what you do, you first need to change who you are. If you can change your identity, then it will be much easier to change your behavior.

6.   Embrace Discomfort

Think about someone who wants to build muscle. They go to the gym and consistently lifts weights. It’s the same as your self-discipline muscle. They will get stronger the more we exercise them. This will require a regular practice of pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.

7.    Forgive yourself and Move Forward

This one is my number one actually! Understanding that there will be ups and downs, successes, and failures. The key is to keep moving forward.  When setbacks com our way, its best that we acknowledge where we fell short. What caused it and move on. Being stuck in our feelings of guilt, anger, and frustration only hinders the process. Forgive yourself and get your head back in the game!


I pray that some, if not all of these steps have encouraged you as they much as they’ve encouraged me. As I shared earlier, this too is an area in my life that I am believing God to finetune for me and for you as well. As always, feel free to drop me a line or two or shoot me a DM on Instagram if you have any further questions or to share if this posts has encouraged you.