How to Increase Willpower and Discipline (17 Insanely Simple Tips)
Discipline equals freedom.
These were the words that ex-Navy Seal turned best-selling author and entrepreneur, Jocko Willink echoed as we concluded our interview.
And he was right.
Men are always looking for freedom in one way or another. We want the freedom to do what we want when we want with whom we want. But that freedom is only achieved through discipline.
If you are disciplined with your money, you will have financial freedom. If you are disciplined with your commitments, you will have more time freedom. If you are disciplined in the gym, you will have more freedom in every area of your life.
Discipline equals freedom.
If you can master discipline you will be smarter, stronger, healthier, richer, and freer than any of your friends or family. If you do not, then you will constantly be pushed around by the currents of life and you will never have the control and freedom that you desire.
But discipline doesn’t just happen overnight. There’s no supplement you can take to improve it. And there’s no shortcut to developing it. You have to work to become more disciplined. You have to work to boost your willpower and become the type of person you want to be.
And guess what?
It’s going to be hard. But I can tell you from personal experience that the pain of discipline is a whole helluva lot easier to carry than the pain of regret.
And today, I’m going to show you how you can increase your willpower, develop self-discipline, and accomplish your biggest goals.
Willpower Definition: What Is Willpower and What Does It Mean for You?
The definition of willpower is simple:
“It’s the ability to either do something you don’t want to do or to abstain from engaging in the thing you want.”
This might sound simple in theory. But the practical application of this concept is anything but.
One of the greatest problems people have when it comes to increasing their willpower so they can be more disciplined is they don’t really know what they want in the first place.
Think about it like this…
If your head is shoved underwater, there is only one thing that you want in that moment…
…To get another breath of air.
It takes no discipline to fight to the surface and gasp for air.
Yet in our day to day lives, we rarely want anything with this level of certainty and ferocity. Sure, it might be nice to have a bigger house, more free time, and a body that looks like it’s carved out of marble. But do you really want it more than you want to watch the next Netflix original series or play the latest Call of Duty?
For most people, the answer is an obvious and resounding “no”.
And this is something that’s important to understand.
With the 17 habits I’m about to share with you, I will teach you how to develop self-discipline and boost your willpower.
But if you really want to know how to become more disciplined now, the answer is simple: Get hungrier.
When you want something badly enough, it doesn’t take any willpower or discipline to go after it. Sure, it might be hard. But when your “wanter” is so finely tuned that you cannot stand living one more day without going towards your goals, everything will fall into place.
If you find yourself struggling for months or years to cultivate the willpower required to achieve a certain goal, I challenge you to step back and ask yourself, “Is this goal something that I really want?”
Oftentimes, if it feels hard to be disciplined and you rely on willpower every second of the day, the problem is not you. Rather that you are pursuing a goal that you don’t really want. When willpower seems hard, be wary. You might be pursuing goals that are incongruent with your deepest desires. Goals that were simply programmed into you by society instead of being intentionally decided upon by you.
But if you do want something and simply need the kick in the ass to help you begin this process and reignite your willpower, I can help steer you in the right direction.
But the rest is up to you. Only you can decide the things that are worth the fighting and suffering. And only you can develop the self-discipline to make them happen.
1. Take 100% Responsibility for Yourself and Eliminate the Word “But” From Your Vocabulary
“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results.” ~Kenneth Blanchard
Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to fabricate excuses and come up with reasons for your failures than it is to own up to your shortcomings and accept the consequences?
And as I sought to become more disciplined in my own life, I realized that this was the #1 thing holding me back from developing the discipline I needed to succeed in life and business.
Just think about it…
“I was going to wake up early and go to the gym, but my boss made me stay late at work so I needed the extra sleep.”
“I was going to spend more time with my wife and kids, but the office gave me some extra projects.”
“I was going to start that business and finally achieve the life that I wanted but I just don’t know where to start.
Whatever your but is… Get off of it.
No more excuses, no more reasons for failure. Just results.
You want to increase your willpower? Then stop talking and thinking about it and take action towards a goal now!
The simple truth is this, there will never be an ideal time to get back in shape, launch that business, master your dating life, or achieve any of the other goals that you have set.
If you want to move forward in life and develop the discipline required to achieve your dreams, then you must start by taking complete responsibility for your life and eliminating the word “But” from your vocabulary.
Let’s take the above statements and rewrite them without the b.s. excuses.
“I was going to wake up early and go to the gym. I chose not to because I was tired after staying late at the office. From now on, I will exercise on my lunch break instead.
I was going to spend more time with my wife and kids. I didn’t. From now on, I will be more focused at work so that I can handle the extra projects I’ve been assigned and spend time with my family.
I was going to start a business to achieve the financial freedom I desire. I haven’t because I don’t know where to start. Tomorrow, I will purchase a new course teaching me how to build an online business.
Before you can start developing real discipline, you must first be willing to take 100% responsibility for everything in your life and everything not in your life.
Because if you don’t, if you continue making excuses, playing small, and allowing your bullshit stories to run your life, you will never have the personal power to become more disciplined, you will never hit your goals, and you will die filled with regret.
Now that you have fully committed to taking complete charge of your life, you can start to take action and develop the discipline you need to succeed.
2. Remove As Many Temptations as Possible to Keep Your Willpower Reserves High
It’s 10 p.m. at night.
You’ve had a long day of work, a few Vodka Tonics, and now you are dying to sink your teeth into a calorie-laden candy bar.
You shouldn’t… You just started a new diet and committed that you would cut out sugar for the next 21 days.
You were good today. You ate well, went to the gym, and woke up early.
You deserve that candy bar.
So, you saunter over to your fridge and open the door, your hands trembling with anticipation.
Sliding your hand past the stack of fruits and vegetables, you reach for the candy bar, your mouth watering at the thought of biting into its sweet and crunchy exterior.
Only… There is no candy bar!
And then you remember.
After reading some weird article last week about developing discipline, you threw out all of your sweets to make your new diet easier.
Feeling both relieved and disappointed, you grab an apple and the jar of peanut butter instead.
There’s an old saying that claims “Environment is stronger than willpower“. This has been my experience and the experience of thousands of people all over the world. Want to know how to have self control? Eliminate everything from your environment that requires you to use self control.
If you are on a new diet, throw out all of the foods that you aren’t supposed to eat.
If you want to quit smoking, start by throwing your cigarettes in a toilet.
If you want to quit drinking, then chuck out your liquor stash (or at least give it to a friend until your period of sobriety is over).
When you remove all temptations from your environment being disciplined becomes infinitely easier and more sustainable.
3. Keep Your Eye on the Prize and Remember Why Discipline Matters
“Stay focused. Your start does not determine how you’re going to finish.” ~ Herman Edwards
Grant Cardone once said, “Each morning and night I review my goals and have been doing it for the past 25 years.”
Over the past 25 years, Mr. Cardone has built a real estate empire that is rapidly approaching the billion-dollar level and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Here’s the thing.
Setting goals is easy.
But having the discipline to actually follow through and achieve those goals… That’s a different story.
If you want to build and sustain the discipline required to pursue your goals over the long run, then you must stay focused on those goals.
You need to remind yourself each and every day why it is that you are doing the things you are doing.
You need to keep your eyes on the prize and stay focused on the end result.
I recommend that you add a reminder on your phone, put them as your desktop background, or keep them on a 3×5 card in your pocket.
Keep your goals top of mind so you never forget your top priorities.
4. Get Hyper Organized to Eliminate Decision Fatigue
An organized life is a disciplined life.
When your physical space around you is organized, your mind becomes more relaxed, stress-free, and able to focus.
Which in turn makes it that much easier to stay disciplined throughout the day.
Something that most people don’t know is that, according to current studies, willpower is a finite resource.
After a certain point in the day, our minds and bodies are simply too exhausted to make the right choices, even when we want to.
This makes it essential that we organize our lives in a way that is conducive to optimum discipline.
Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg both understood this fact. That’s why they wore the exact same outfit every single day.
It meant there was one less decision that they needed to make and one less question/problem draining their mental resources.
To achieve true discipline in your own life, you must eliminate superfluous decisions and create an organized environment that makes it easy for you to flow from task to task.
By doing so, you will have a greater mental capacity to handle the challenges of everyday discipline.
5. Find a Way to Enjoy the Things You Are Doing and Eliminate the Need for Discipline
“Greatness is a lot of small things done well every day.” ~Eric Thomas
Sometimes you have to do shit that you hate.
It could be the grueling 5 am workout, the run in the rain, or putting in the extra work at the office while everyone else is at happy hour.
It’s during these times that you build character and create discipline in your life.
But you don’t want your entire life to be made up of these situations.
This would be like the Navy SEAL’s Hell Week and the movie Groundhog Day having a child and forcing you to raise it.
In other words… It would suck!
Which is why you must learn to find pleasure in everyday tasks so that they require little to no discipline.
For example, if you want to start going to the gym, call up a friend that you love hanging out with but rarely see and ask them to be your gym partner. Now, instead of feeling like you have to drag your ass to the YMCA every morning, you are actually excited about seeing your buddy and getting the chance to catch up.
Find ways to make normal activities more pleasurable so that you can reduce the discipline “load” required.
When you do this, you will have more will power stored up so that you can conquer the truly formidable tasks of the day.
6. Keep a Daily Journal to Keep Track of Your Progress and Stay Motivated by Your Results
Most men scoff at the idea of writing in a journal.
This is a shame because frankly, it’s one of the best damn tools on the planet for becoming a stronger more grounded man.
Tony Robbins has said that he has journaled for over 40 years and still has them to this day. It was during one of his journal sessions where he finally found out his vision and made the changes to become the massive success he is today.
While I’m not guaranteeing you Tony’s success, I will say that journaling can help you stay consistent by keeping track of what has worked and what needs to be improved.
Like Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets managed”.
Think of your journal as a way to measure your life.
7. Plan Each Day the Night Before So You Know Exactly What to Do Each Day
“Nobody wrote down a plan to be fat, lazy, or stupid. That’s what happens when you don’t have a plan.” ~Larry Winget
This quote has helped me become more disciplined than anything else.
By creating a plan the night before, you are able to accomplish more than anyone who is waking up clueless. I find that when you if you wait until the morning to plan the day you might get rushed or forget entirely.
When you create a plan for your day you can structure it to help reach your goals. You can plan your workout, prepare your meals, wake up at the right time, and leave for work feeling ready for whatever the day brings. If you’re waking up late, punching the alarm clock, and have no plan for the day it will be impossible to stay disciplined.
You’ll spend the first few hours of your day using your willpower to answer the question, “What the hell should I even do today?”
By spending five minutes the night before writing out what you want to accomplish tomorrow, you will increase your willpower and accomplish 10X more than you do now.
8. Always Do the Hardest Thing First (A.k.a. Eat that Frog!)
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest on first.” ~Mark Twain
When it comes to discipline you should always do the hardest task first thing in the morning.
Quit waiting until you “feel like it,” chances are you will never get the hardest or most time-consuming stuff done first.
If you have a client you’ve avoided, an email you ignored, or a conversation you are dreading get it done first thing.
The morning is the best time to accomplish the hardest tasks as you will be fresh, creative and focused.
Don’t walk into work and start ripping through emails, browsing Youtube, and chatting with coworkers. Get the hardest things done first and the rest of the day will be easy.
This will create momentum throughout the day and train your mind to be disciplined and create a great morning habit.
9. Create a Morning Routine that Will Kickstart Your Day, Energize Your Body, and Get you Excited About Life
How you start the day is how you end your day.
A lot of people start their day off pissed off, stressed, flustered, and unprepared, they then end the day pissed off, stressed, flustered, and unprepared for the next day.
By creating a powerful morning routine, you can start each day feeling charged, energized, and excited for the tasks ahead.
You will know exactly what you need to accomplish (because you paid attention to the last point, right?) and you will have the time you need to get yourself into state to achieve your biggest goals and work towards your grandest dreams.
While there’s no “One Size Fits All” morning routine, I recommend that you start simple.
Move your body for at least 15 minutes, journal for five minutes, read for 15 minutes and meditate for 10 minutes.
If you do these four things, you will 10x the quality of your days.
And when you 10x the quality of your days… You 10x the quality of your life.
10. Practice Gratitude to Eradicate Negative Emotions and Maintain a Positive Mindset Throughout the Day
“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” ~Tony Robbins
Weakness thrives on negativity.
Discipline thrives on gratitude.
When you regularly practice gratitude and remind yourself of the things you are grateful for, the fear and anxiety that you have around your goals will start to disappear and you will be left with only excitement and confidence.
And the effects of this positive emotional state are incredible.
When you focus on the abundance around you, you will be more disciplined to achieve your goals. You can do this every day by writing in a journal or reaching out to three people a day and appreciating them.
11. Exercise Regularly to Develop Discipline and Persistence
“I hated every minute of training but I said, don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” ~Muhammad Ali
Exercise should be a cornerstone of your life.
Sure, some days you will feel like sleeping in or skipping the gym after work but it’s those moments where self-discipline is created.
When you make exercise a part of your morning routine it will (literally) every area of your life almost overnight.
By exercising regularly you will increase your mental and physical capacity, improve your energy levels, mood, and general well being.
You will reduce your level of stress and pain by releasing dopamine, serotonin, and endocannabinoids (responsible for the “runners high”) and you will boost your confidence and self-esteem by staying disciplined and maintaining a regular training regimen.
Turn the headphones and get to work every morning to get your blood flowing and start sculpting an epic body.
12. Meditate to Rewire Your Brain, Improve Your Focus, and Become a Badass
The benefits of meditation seem limitless.
Clinical studies have shown that meditation can
Relieve stress and physical pain
Reduce anxiety and depression
Increase mental clarity and focus
Improve creative thinking processes
And (indirectly) increase discipline
And you know what the best part is?
It takes less than 10 minutes a day.
I dare you to download the Headspace app and complete the “Take 10” Challenge.
I promise you that you will feel more alert, energetic, and capable of sustaining discipline.
14. Eat Healthy Foods that Make Deposits into Your “Willpower Bank”
As I’ve already mentioned, discipline and will power are finite.
You can only sustain high levels of discipline for so long before you snap and break.
Outside of cultivating a positive mindset and exercising, nothing will have a greater impact on your “Willpower Bank” than the foods that you use to fuel your body.
But there’s a problem.
Eating a diet that improves your capacity for self-discipline actually requires discipline to get started.
So here are a few tricks to help simplify the process and make things as painless as possible.
Throw out all foods in your pantry that don’t give you sustainable energy and vitality (see point #2)
Always go grocery shopping after a big meal
Practice intermittent fasting – Eat from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Eat one huge meal containing 1-2 lbs. of high-quality meat, fresh vegetables, and a couple of potatoes.
Eat another “Micro Meal” like a smoothie or salad to get the micronutrients your body needs
If you follow this plan, you will have the energy and physical capacity to stay much more disciplined.
15. Schedule Regular Breaks to Give Your “Willpower Muscle” a Chance to Recover
Sometimes as men we think we need to just power through our task and get it done.
The only problem with this idea is that it’s out of touch with reality.
Studies have shown that the human brain can only remain effective at any given task for about 52 minutes before it needs a moment to cool down and recover.
And we can use this knowledge to our advantage.
By practicing something called a “Pomodoro”, where you work for 52 minutes and break for 17, you will maximize your willpower, increase your ability to focus, and make discipline all but automatic.
Go to e.ggtimer.com, set the countdown timer for 52 minutes and get to working.
16. Get More High-Quality Sleep to Instantly Increase Your Willpower (And Boost Your Testosterone, Sex Drive, and IQ)
Sleep is directly connected with your ability to have self-discipline.
In fact, the quality of your sleep has a drastic effect on the hormonal functioning of your body.
If you aren’t getting sufficient sleep you are more likely to opt for fast-burning “simple carbs” like donuts, pastries, and other sugar-laden bullshit.
However, when you get enough sleep (think 7+ hours), you will have a more balanced hormonal profile, reduced risk for many diseases, and the mental and physical energy to be disciplined throughout the day.
Oh, and dozens of studies have found that men who sleep 7 hours or more a night have higher testosterone, improved cognitive function, bigger testicles (no, really), and improved athletic and sexual performance.
So unless you hate yourself (and sex), do us all a favor and commit to getting better sleep.
I recommend that you do the following things to optimize your sleep:
Put the thermostat on 65 F
Drink a hot cup of tea with 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 Tbsp of raw honey 40 minutes before bed
Take an ice bath one hour before bed
Turn off all electronic screens 50 minutes before bed
Quit working at least 2 hours before bed
Completely black out your bedroom
The benefits of sleep are far-reaching and will be a major reason you will be able to stay disciplined throughout the day.
17. Forgive Yourself When You Mess Up and Move On
As men we make a lot of mistakes, it’s just a part of life.
Everyone you’ve ever looked up to or admired has made as many or more mistakes than you. Quit dwelling on the past, it’s holding you back from your future and reaching your true potential.
If you want to have strong self-discipline be quick to forgive yourself and look ahead.
Just because you have one bad meal doesn’t mean you failed and should give up on your diet.
When you create new habits it takes 3-6 weeks for them to be fully formed and part of your new life. If you slip it’s normal, keep at it and you will be self-disciplined in no time.
Bonus: Self Discipline Quotes to Get You Fired Up and Motivated
If you need an extra kick in the ass to get you going and start the process of positive momentum, here are a few of my favorite self-discipline quotes to help you get fired up and ready to go.
“Self-discipline is doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done even when you don’t feel like doing it.” Anonymous
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” Jim Rohn
“Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.” Lou Holtz
“Self-discipline is the magic power that makes you virtually unstoppable.” Anonymous
“The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term is the indispensable prerequisite for success.” Maxwell Maltz
“The pain of self-discipline will never be as great as the pain of regret.” Anonymous
“A great way to develop self-discipline is to make it a habit to do the things you should be doing when you feel the laziest. Every time you feel really lazy, do the opposite of what you feel like doing.” Anonymous
“The first and best victory is to conquer self.” Plato
“I think self-discipline is something, it’s like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.” Daniel Goldstein
“Self-discipline is that mental state of commitment, which gets you performing an activity regardless of your feelings.” Anonymous
“Self-discipline is that which, next to virtue, truly and essentially raises one man above another.” Joseph Addison
“Self-discipline is a form of freedom. Freedom from laziness and lethargy, freedom from the expectations and demands of others, freedom from weakness and fear – and doubt. Self-discipline allows a person to feel his individuality, his inner strength, his talent. He is the master of, rather than a slave to, his thoughts and emotions.” H. A. Dorfman
“Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” Anonymous
“The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline.” Anonymous
“Self-discipline is the only power which can keep you energized even in the thoughest of the circumstances.” Sukant Ratnakar
Discipline and willpower aren’t something that you acquire overnight.
It is a set of regular habits to help you stay committed to your goals. As Jim Rohn said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”
Once you find your ‘why’ and create goals you will form the habits needed to accomplish them. But sticking with them is the most important part.
You will screw up, no one is perfect. It could be skipping a workout or eating a whole pizza but don’t give up.
One mistake isn’t the end of the world.
Forgive yourself and move on quickly.
This article was originally published at KnowledgeForMen.com