Mar 21, 2021
min read

Why Self-Discipline is Essential for Achieving Success

Thinking discipline is hard to cultivate or not? Bust all myths!

We all might have come across that one person or that one friend, who always seems to get everything done on time. They may have a million club activities, but still manage to keep evenings free to spend time with family and friends. Despite the free time, they excel and handle this plethora of activities so well, that to the point, that they are acing almost all of them. Obviously, it is a dream for most of us to be able to juggle so many activities and still get enough free time to relax and unwind. And today, we will be covering in great detail how exactly they can do this.

But before, we do all the work, maybe you should try some too. Hang around those friends and people as often as possible (after reading this article, of course!) and let us know how our predictions stood against their actual behaviour.


  • They wake up early and start their day as soon as possible with a quick yet enticing morning routine that keeps them going.
  • They always seem to be incredibly driven, yet humble to the point of the extreme annoyance of everyone living or working with them in any field. (Obviously, this isn’t the case, but again, we are starting with the basics, which are mainly the things spotted by us)
  • They give their teammates credit for the success of any idea and take the blame themselves whenever the idea flops.
  • It isn’t easy to make them feel uncomfortable. They are usually the first ones to take on any challenge thrown at them, regardless of how hard it is, they won’t give up until they have either found the challenge useless or too difficult and formally left it, or they have found it really useful and added it to their daily or weekly routine.
  • Speaking of routines, they have almost the entirety of their workday planned out and they stick to it strictly. Yes, you heard that one right. Whether they use a calendar, bullet journal or a planner, or they directly store their schedule on their devices or in their mind, they always have a schedule and regardless of it being detailed or vague, they always follow it and prioritise it above everything else. Usually, whenever you want to hang out with them or want to spend some time doing something during their workweek, you need to tell them the plan beforehand, almost a week before. It may be annoying and cumbersome, but again, it’s just how they roll.
  • They schedule downtime and stick to it. Surprisingly, they do put downtimes in their schedule too. They nap at least once throughout their day for a minimum of 20 minutes and after that continue with their tasks with continued rigour and enthusiasm.
  • Positivity. Yes, positivity is their main mantra and they always stick to it. They try to keep the mood positive almost all the time (yes, I said almost). Only approach them during breaks or when their todo list is complete. Whoosh! Almost seems like they are on another level right now right? Well, hold your horses right there as there is a bit of comfort. I haven’t mentioned the how's of the self-disciplined squad. I hope that this provides a bit more clarity into their behaviour and helps you understand the benefits of getting all your work done on time. So, without any delays at all, as I know that you all are eagerly waiting, let’s get right into it!

How in the world do they do this?

The key to it is self-discipline. Yes, I can see you all scoffing at this. The key to self-discipline is, yeah wait for it, self-discipline. Couldn’t I have figured that on my own? eyerolls

Well, that’s kind of the point now, isn’t it? The two following points may not appear correct, crazy even. But we are on a journey of self-discovery and the first step to it is to throw logic out of the window. Hopefully, these points help you get a better idea about it. And again, stop reading now if you aren’t open to the question of new ideas, just saying. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

Self-discipline has a different meaning to everyone

Yes, it is one of the two most important terms in this article so I’ll repeat it. Self-discipline has a different meaning for everyone. For the all-star jock, it may mean practising their sport every day, for a studious person, it may mean being able to sit for long hours to get their studying done, for another person, it may just be required to grind out some work before they get to work on other things or it may be a method to get enough time to finally accomplish what they like to do. And some of you may not even have an idea of what you expect from it. But, no worries. This article is for all of you. All I request is that you be above one year of age and ready to make some big changes. Because as Thanos said, “It’s a small price to pay for salvation.” Salvation, indeed!

The meaning of self-discipline not only changes from person to person, but also from time to time for a single person

Yes, as our priorities change, our definition of self-discipline changes too! In the first point, I had classified all of us into really broad unfair hierarchies, but obviously, we all aren’t fitting into it, right? We all aren’t just jocks, or studious, or many other groups; but a mixture of two or more of them. Hence while we work on one activity or the other, throughout our day, gradually our priorities change and this leads to a switch in our attention from one subject to another. But you must have thought, “Aryan, we just expected a good, quick set of steps to directly implement into our routine. Not a huge paragraph!” Don’t worry, I’m not a professor, so wanted to make things easier for you all (big shock, I know). So, here’s the simple 4 step procedure to attain self-discipline in all spheres of your life! Excited yet? Me too! Let’s do this! The secret to becoming self-disciplined (as Tim Ferriss mentions in “The 4-hour workweek”) is to become a DEAL maker. A deal maker believes in one simple thing: ‘Reality is negotiable’. What tasks can be negotiated, timelines can be negotiated, the number of hours can be negotiated, the difficulty can be negotiated and so on and so forth.

Being a DEAL Maker doesn’t require us to be unethical

The key acronym in this process of becoming self-disciplined is DEAL.

D for Definition

The first step to becoming self-disciplined, obviously is to turn misguided common sense upside down and understand the rules and objectives of the new game. Your premade and well thought out self-definitions of self-discipline replace self-defeating assumptions and replace them with the belief that you well and truly can accomplish everything that you want to (and more)! Who are self-disciplined people and how do they operate? These were the main questions that we started within this article and hope to find our own answers to.

E for Elimination

It kills the obsolete notion of time management and with it, the belief that you can be self-disciplined 24/7 and get all your tasks done. No, you cant. Sorry to burst your bubble like that, but it is almost impossible, not impossible as your snooty teacher might have said to you, but impossible as in really mentally draining and harmful to your well being like the kind doctor says. Because even if you don’t believe me, I do care about you guys. You have read the article till here, so obviously, you care about achieving the best results, which I do too and I sincerely hope I can help you just a wee bit.

So, how do you stay self-disciplined with the limitation that we inherently inherited as human being? Simply speaking, Eliminate. A todo list, for not just all tasks you need to complete, but also a planner. Why a planner is used, you ask? Well, because there are only 24 hours in a day. Excluding most of the time we spend sleeping, eating and getting ready, it may end up being about 15 hours. Then, time for breaks: 14. School: 6…and the list goes on. Do you see where I’m going with this? A planner helps you to group your tasks in the to-do list into smaller chunks for you to work on every day. A planner for the week is most helpful for this. Not only that but grouping the tasks into small chunks, also helps you give your best to each chunk and not bite off more than you can chew. If there are too many tasks in that chunk, you eliminate a couple (either entirely, or delegate which I shall discuss in the 3rd point). Don’t worry about those tasks as obviously, because you decided to eliminate them, they are going to surely be useless and cumbersome. This will help you focus on the more important ones.

A for Automation

You can automate your daily routine using the to-do list and a great morning routine. However, outsourcing and rules of non-decision are also key in this case. Outsourcing is just a fancy word for “delegating”. Yes, if your to-do list gets too long and leaves you no time for the tasks you are really interested in developing discipline in, you won’t be able to do those tasks that day, which will ruin your streak. So, feel free to hand over some simple or cumbersome tasks to your friends so that you get some time to follow what you like to do.

Note: You must also be ready to accept delegated tasks from other friends if you give them tasks.

Seriously, it’s only fair. The rule of non-decision mainly states that too many decisions if taken, by an individual in a short period of time, can cause decision fatigue and lead to wrong decisions and cause a decline in self-discipline. So, don’t take the unimportant decisions which just sap energy, unless you are absolutely sure of your answer. There is no need to spend so long picking a restaurant to eat out unless you know what you want to eat. It just causes unnecessary conflict and this is only one such example.

L for Liberation

Mobility is the final part of self-discipline. You have gotten rid of extra tasks, stopped unnecessary decisions, followed all the points I asked you to observe in your friends (yes, that was also needed, cue the exaggerated groans) and finally, you’ve reached this step.


Sometimes things may not go according to your planner as we are humans too. A break day or so won’t destroy your discipline, but strengthen your resolve and determination to get back onto work with a fresh mind. Don’t let it worry you, but enjoy the process. And enjoying the process is what helps you stay disciplined. Something that you truly enjoy will help you be truly passionate while working on it. And that is what self-discipline is all about.

Self-discipline, not only helps you eliminate the junk, but it also helps you focus on what is important. And that, my friends, is what makes it all that bit more amazing. Obviously, it isn’t easy or sustainable for us to aim for a 4-hour workweek like Tim suggests, but a 4 hour day is quite possible. And as I write this on a hammock, resting on the beach after my exams, quite enjoyable too!