How do I learn discipline

Learn discipline - 5 steps to masterful self-discipline


There has been a great deal of research into discipline in recent years.

In this article, I'll start with the research and then give you specific techniques you can use to learn discipline.

But first I would like to clarify a crucial question:

Does self-discipline make you happy?

The answer to this is provided by an article from Die Zeit:

"Self-control is good, but dangerous to exaggerate."

This is the conclusion reached by various research results, which on the one hand show that a certain degree of self-discipline promises success. But if you overdo it and do without your needs for years, burnout can occur.

But that doesn't mean you should avoid self-discipline completely. On the contrary: As the following studies show, discipline makes you happier!

Let's start with a research by Wilhelm Hofmann from the University of Chicago. You can read this here:

This study concludes:

"According to this, people experience more positive feelings and are more satisfied with their life when they have a good grip on themselves - and can postpone needs in order to achieve another, more important goal."

If you look at further studies, this result is supported.

For example, a research by Terrie Moffitt of Duke University in Dunedin, New Zealand. This has established that disciplined people

- physically healthier

- mentally healthier

- less susceptible to addiction

- less criminal

- and better financially secure


You can read that again in English here:

Other studies, also cited on this page, show the same results.

It remains to be noted:

Disciplined people are more successful.

Furthermore, it turned out that discipline can be learned, even if you didn't have it in the cradle as a child.

The metaphor of a muscle is often used for this: Discipline is like a muscle. He is trainable and tired if you put too much strain on him.

So you have to train it slowly and gradually you can improve.

If you want to learn discipline

Here is a story from my life:

My everyday life 12 years ago was something like that I lay in bed until the afternoon. After getting up there was coffee and a cigarette. I often had a hangover from the night before and was in a bad mood right away.

I then spent the time doing very nonsensical things like watching TV or playing computer games. When I got better in the evening, I would sit down with friends again to have a few more beers.

And even if I didn't drink alcohol one evening, I was always up late at night and watched TV.

I spent the next morning in bed and couldn't motivate myself at all to go to university or do anything else useful.

Of course there were also times when I went to lectures, but there was a lack of continuity.

When I stumbled upon motivational speaker Tony Robbins a few years later and he claimed in one of his books that every single day should be used to pursue your goals and to be hardworking, that didn't fit into my view of the world at all.

I couldn't imagine how I could go partying in the evening and muster the discipline for a healthy morning routine or for university the next day.

For me, partying and drinking had become such a part of my life that I couldn't imagine getting up early every morning and doing something meaningful.

I thought that I could definitely do a few days of disciplined exercise in the morning or other stuff that helped me, but I couldn't understand why I should really do that every day. Forever. After all, people need a break from time to time.

I only understood that over time. And today I know how he meant it:

I used to think I could spend 90% of my time partying, lounging and free time, and 10% had to be hardworking and disciplined. Today I know that - if I want to achieve my goals - I have to be 90% hardworking and can use 10% of my time with free time (more or less).

Where do you stand?

In between, of course, there is a big gap. From 10% hard work to 90% hard work is a very big step. And that's exactly why we're starting where you are right now!

Exercise: Take a look at your life! How much of your time do you roughly spend on things that make you happy in the long term? How often do you procrastinate or give in to temptation? Roughly determine that for you. Because that is your starting position.

And now it's not about turning your previous behavior all around 180 ° immediately and learning iron discipline. You can learn to change step by step.

This is how you learn self-discipline

1. Set yourself a goal

At the beginning there is a goal!

I used to have no goals. Although I had studied, I had never thought about what I would actually like to do with my life. My focus was only on the next high and my problems. I didn't look at what was possible.

And the best way to learn discipline is to put a goal behind your actions.

An example of this:

A few weeks ago I set myself an exact goal of how many new blog articles I would like to have written on what date. And then I divided that into small goals so that at the end of each week I had to have written a certain number of blog articles.

And last Sunday was such a day. I had no motivation at all. But I had that goal. I knew I had to write another article that day. Simply because I had a clearly defined goal.

Had I only had one rough goal (e.g. eight blog articles by the end of the month), then I would probably have postponed the task. Because then I could have told myself that I still have time for it tomorrow.

But since I had to finish this article this Sunday, I sat down and wrote the article despite all internal resistance.

That is exactly what discipline is.

And, so that we understand each other correctly: that is not always the case. I don't discipline myself for every single article I write. Sometimes I really feel like doing it. And sometimes not. The important thing is: to always do it, no matter how strong the desire is.

Who only acts, who just feels like it, will not get far!

As mentioned at the beginning, the most important quality for success is discipline!

But now to you: If you don't have any discipline, then train it.

We have just determined step number 1: Set yourself a goal!

To come back to my example: I have set myself the goal of writing a certain number of blog articles. There is, of course, an even bigger goal behind this. I want to achieve a certain number of visitors on my homepage. And I need them for another goal. Etc.

So I have a big goal and small intermediate goals so that I know exactly what to do every day. And these specific goals make it much easier for me to discipline myself. Because I know exactly what I'm doing this for.

2. Make your goal important enough to you

What do you want to discipline yourself for? Which goal do you want to achieve? And above all: How important is it to you?

I know someone who made the following arrangements with his buddy: He presented his friend with a to-do list and said exactly when he would have completed it. And if he doesn't do it by that date, he'll give his buddy € 5,000. This is no joke! And that really motivates and disciplines you!

Therefore step 2: Make your goal important enough to you!

If you set yourself a goal that you want to lose weight, for example, but do not define it exactly, you will probably not get very far. It will only be easier for you to motivate yourself if you determine exactly what you want to achieve and when (step 1) and why you want to achieve it (step 2).

So far, so clear!

3. Go forward in small steps

Step 3: Start where you are!

When I was still completely undisciplined, it was not possible for me to completely change my life from now on. I did it in small steps.

If you z. For example, if you plan to go to the gym starting today, then if you're not used to it, don't set yourself a goal of going five times a week right away. Instead, set yourself a goal that you will definitely achieve. For example, going to the gym once a week. Important: You can do more, just not less.

It is crucial that you go at least this once a week. There's no way around it. You can also put € 5,000 on it. You can also go five times a week, but this one time is an absolute must!

And so you can gradually increase your discipline. Because once you've been to the gym every week for two months, the world looks very different. Of course, this can also be applied to other things.

And the following always applies:

Better to study an hour every day (or train or whatever) and every day instead than study eight hours every day for a week and then nothing more!

That should become your iron rule.

4. Avoid temptation

The more temptations you have to resist during the day, the more your "discipline muscle" is used. And the less discipline you have left.

That is why it is important that you divide your discipline.

Avoid as much temptation as you can in order to be able to muster enough discipline for your ultimate goal.

For example, if you want to quit smoking, it is not very advisable to go to a bar that smokes a lot every night.

If you stay in a non-smoking environment, you will find it easier to resist.

5. Plan ahead

This technique will help you stick to your resolutions.

It has been shown that difficult decisions wear out the "discipline muscle" and that there is not so much energy left for further decisions.

Let's take the example above again: you have just quit smoking and are invited to a party that you absolutely want to go to.

To avoid the temptation to smoke, make a plan beforehand about how you will react if someone offers you a cigarette.

In a manner of speaking, anticipate the decision. Determine: "Whenever someone offers me a cigarette, I order a glass of water."

Or anything else that leads you to act automatically.

Because you then already have a suitable action (and decision) ready, it makes it much easier for you to resist.

But what about the discipline in everyday life?

How disciplined people tick

For example, my everyday life looks like I get up sometime between 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. (when it gets really late), then do my morning routine (I meditate, make myself a smoothie and then write my newsletter), then briefly Surf a little and check e-mails, make a plan for the day and start working. And then I'll keep going until I've met my schedule for the day.

In between there are breaks for food or surfing or I play the computer for 30 minutes. At the end of the day, however, my plan is mostly fulfilled.

There are days when it is easier and there are days when it is more difficult.

A very successful entrepreneur I know gets up between 5 and 6 a.m., then works until lunch and always goes for a walk afterwards.

In my opinion, a regular daily routine is essential.

The principle is actually always the same: get up relatively early and then do meaningful things (some do sport first, others go to work immediately) and only a small part of the day is used for short-term satisfaction (you remember the 10%) such as B. to drink a bottle of wine with friends in the evening.

You can see this behavior in many successful people.

That was all the art. Make one thing clear to yourself: If you really want to achieve something, then learn to be active yourself. Learn self-discipline, make it important enough to yourself and leave behind old behaviors that hold you back!


If you want to be more disciplined:

1. Set yourself a goal

2. Make your goal important enough to you

3. Go forward in small steps

4. Avoid temptation

5. Plan ahead

And finally: If you don't feel like doing a task at all, watch the following video: