The five pillars of self-discipline are: Acceptance, Willpower, Hard Work, Industry, and Persistence. If you take the first letter of each word, you get the acronym “A WHIP” – a convenient way to remember them, since many people associate self-discipline with whipping themselves into shape.
Have you ever watched people who are really good at sticking to their plans and thought, “How do they do it?”
These are the kind of people who never skip a workout, always finish their work on time, and wake up right when their alarm rings.
Well, it’s not because they have more time or a secret trick. It’s all about how they think.
In this article, I’m going to look at 11 unique ways that people with strong self-discipline think.
We’ll talk about how their way of thinking helps them stay focused and get things done.
So if you’ve been finding it hard to stay disciplined, or just want to know what’s going on in the minds of these disciplined folks, this is for you.
By the end of this article, you might start seeing discipline in a whole new way.
Let’s get started.
1. They Prioritize their Goals
People with strong self-discipline have a clear understanding of what’s important to them.
They don’t just have a vague idea like, “I want to get fit” or “I want to be successful”.
Instead, they define their goals in specific terms such as, “I want to be able to run a 5 Km in under 30 minutes by the end of the year” or “I want to be promoted to team lead within two years”.
They focus on these well-defined goals and align their daily actions accordingly.
This doesn’t mean they are rigid; they simply know what they want and keep their eyes on the prize.
It’s this kind of clear, focused thinking that helps them say no to distractions and stay disciplined.
2. They Understand the Importance of Consistency
Have you ever heard the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? People with strong self-discipline truly believe and live by that.
They know that big results come from small, consistent actions over time. It’s not about doing a lot all at once; it’s more about sticking to the plan day in, day out.
Whether it’s studying a little bit every day for a big exam or putting a small portion of their paycheck into savings each month, they understand that consistency is key.
So, instead of trying to do everything at once and burning out, they take things step by step.
They might not see immediate results, but they know they’re building towards something greater.
3. They Embrace Frustrations and Challenges
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from observing self-disciplined people, it’s that they don’t shy away from problems. In fact, they embrace them.
A few years ago, I decided to learn a new language – French. I was excited at first, but then I hit a wall.
The grammar rules seemed too complex, the pronunciation felt strange, and progress was slower than a snail’s pace. It was frustrating.
But instead of giving up or complaining about it, I decided to change my mindset and view these challenges as opportunities for growth.
I started to analyze where I was going wrong, sought help from native speakers, and practiced even more diligently.
Now, I can converse fairly well in French.
The journey wasn’t easy, but by embracing the frustrations and challenges, I managed to turn them into stepping-stones towards my goal.
It’s this kind of thinking that self-disciplined people apply in their lives daily.
4. They Don’t Rely on Motivation Alone
It’s a common belief that motivation is the key to achieving our goals.
But motivation is a fleeting state of mind and cannot be relied upon for long-term commitments.
Self-disciplined people understand this.
They don’t wait around for a wave of motivation to get started.
Instead, they cultivate discipline and make it a habit to work towards their goals, even when they’re not feeling particularly inspired.
They know that progress comes from consistent effort, not momentary bursts of energy or enthusiasm.
So while the rest of us are waiting for the perfect mood or moment, these disciplined folks are already on their way, turning their dreams into reality.
5. They Show Kindness to Themselves
One thing that really stands out about self-disciplined people is their ability to treat themselves with kindness.
It’s easy to imagine disciplined folks as stern taskmasters, always pushing themselves to the limit.
But in reality, they know that everyone makes mistakes and has off days.
Instead of beating themselves up over a missed workout or a slice of cake during a diet, they accept it, learn from it, and move on.
They understand that self-discipline is not about perfection; it’s about progress.
They allow themselves room to be human, to falter, and then pick themselves up again.
This kindness towards themselves makes their journey not just bearable, but enjoyable.
It’s this warm, compassionate approach that helps them stick to their commitments without feeling burdened or overwhelmed.
6. They Value Their Time
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my journey towards self-discipline, it’s the value of time.
I used to be a notorious procrastinator, always putting off tasks until the last minute.
But then I realized, each moment wasted is a moment I could have used to work towards my goals.
Now, I see time as the valuable resource it truly is. I plan my days, prioritize tasks and try to eliminate distractions.
And believe me, it’s not always easy. The lure of social media, the temptation of just one more episode of my favorite show, or the comfort of an extra hour of sleep often tests my resolve.
But whenever this happens, I remind myself of my goals and the importance of each minute that’s slipping away.
This shift in mindset has not only helped me become more disciplined but also more productive and fulfilled.
7. They’re Not Afraid of Failure
Look, no one likes to fail. It stings and can knock your confidence.
But self-disciplined people fail too. And sometimes, they fail big time. But what sets them apart is how they deal with failure.
They don’t let it define them or stop them from trying again. Instead, they see it for what it is – a setback, a lesson, a stepping stone on the path to success.
They dust themselves off, learn from their mistakes and get back on track. It’s not about never falling down; it’s about always getting back up.
This tough-as-nails attitude towards failure is what helps them push through obstacles and stay disciplined even when things aren’t going their way.
8. They Practice Delayed Gratification
Self-disciplined people are masters of delayed gratification.
They’re willing to resist the temptation for an immediate reward in order to gain a more valuable reward later.
This was actually studied in the famous “Marshmallow Test” by psychologist Walter Mischel.
Young children were given a marshmallow and told if they could wait 15 minutes without eating it, they would get a second one.
The kids who were able to wait (delay gratification) ended up having more success in life later on.
Just like those kids, self-disciplined individuals understand that sometimes, the best things in life are worth waiting for.
This ability to delay gratification helps them stay disciplined, make better decisions, and ultimately achieve their long-term goals.
9. They Surround Themselves with Positivity
During my personal journey towards self-discipline, I realized the incredible impact of my surroundings.
The people we associate with, the books we read, the media we consume – it all shapes our mindset and influences our actions.
I made a conscious choice to surround myself with positivity, be it through motivational books, inspiring podcasts, or friends who encourage and uplift.
It’s not about living in a bubble or denying the existence of negative things. Instead, it’s about consciously choosing to focus on the positive and draw inspiration from it.
This shift in my environment has helped me stay motivated, maintain self-discipline, and foster a more optimistic outlook on life.
10. They Know It’s a Lifelong Journey
Self-discipline is not a “one and done” kind of deal. It’s not something you achieve and then forget about. It’s a lifelong journey, a constant work in progress.
People with strong self-discipline know this all too well. They understand that there will be ups and downs, progress and setbacks.
But they don’t let this discourage them. Instead, they keep going, keep refining, keep growing.
Each day is a new opportunity to practice discipline and get one step closer to their goals.
11. They’re Not Born This Way
Another honest truth? Self-disciplined people are not born with an extraordinary willpower gene.
They’re ordinary folks like you and me. What sets them apart is their commitment to developing self-discipline, their willingness to put in the work, day after day, no matter how hard it gets.
They’ve had their fair share of struggles, temptations, and failures.
But they’ve chosen to learn from them and use them as fuel for their journey towards discipline.
So if you’re sitting there thinking you can’t become one of these self-disciplined people because you’re not “wired” that way, think again. It’s not about your DNA; it’s about your determination.