Philosophy, psychology, and countless self-help books have discussed the art of discipline for thousands of years. In ancient Greece, there was “sophrosyne,” an ideal of excellent character and soundness of mind that leads to moderation, self-control, and balance. In most religious traditions (like Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism), self-discipline is also very important. No matter where you look, whether it’s in a spiritual or secular environment, self-discipline always comes up when people talk about improving their lives. It can be defined as the development of new habits, the regulation of emotions and actions, and intentional focus. Why is discipline important?
Discipline builds good habits
Do you have bad habits in your life? Research shows building new habits is more effective than simply trying to stop an undesired behavior. New habits can still be challenging, which is why discipline matters. When you commit to your new habit consistently, it becomes easier, and – eventually – more natural. As a result, you’re also able to set aside bad habits.
Discipline helps you stop procrastinating
Procrastination is a common problem. We’ve all struggled with putting off things or waiting for the magic moment when we feel ready. When you’re disciplined and have formed good habits, your ability to get things done doesn’t depend on how you feel. In a way, discipline works like auto-pilot. You don’t need to wait for the right feeling or motivation to start. Disciplined people can push through the temptation to procrastinate and just start.
Discipline helps you manage your time better
When people want to be more disciplined, they often think about time management. By forming better habits and not procrastinating, you can save a lot of time on different tasks and make better use of the time you have. Time management is one of the best skills you can develop because it applies to just about every area of your life. Discipline helps you build that skill.
Discipline helps you achieve your goals
Everyone has goals in life. Work goals are very common, but goals can also include things like learning a new language, getting better at a hobby, or an exercise goal. You need discipline to get what you want. It won’t happen overnight. Discipline ensures you build new habits, stop procrastinating, and effectively manage your time. With time and discipline, you’ll see significant improvement and find success.
Discipline boosts your self-esteem
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as forming new habits, breaking old ones, and meeting your goals. These victories significantly boost a person’s self-esteem, which makes it easier to continue being disciplined. You’ll feel confident in your ability to stick to a routine, manage your time, and resist procrastination. High self-esteem carries over into the rest of your life and relationships. High self-esteem also increases your emotional resilience in tough situations.
Discipline helps you master things
The vast majority of people who are the best at what they do have one thing in common: discipline. They often wake up at the same time every day, have a routine they always follow, and commit to self-improvement through continued education or training in their field. Tennis star Serena Williams didn’t get where she is without self-discipline. You don’t need to be a master at everything you do, but if mastery in something is your goal, discipline is non-negotiable.
Discipline makes you more reliable
A lack of discipline can have significant effects on your life. As an example, if you aren’t good at time management, you might struggle to meet deadlines at work, get to events and appointments on schedule, or spend enough time with your loved ones. You can get a reputation for not being reliable. Certain conditions can affect a person’s ability to manage their time, like ADHD. Discipline still applies, though it can look different from person to person based on what works for them. Many strategies can make time management easier, like organizing your schedule so it isn’t overwhelming and setting alarms.
Discipline improves your ability to manage challenging emotions
Discipline applies to your emotions as well as your habits. No emotions are “bad,” but some are more challenging than others. Anger is a good example. Luckily, you can learn to have discipline when it comes to this emotion. That doesn’t mean suppressing it. Discipline helps you learn to manage it and express it healthily. This takes practice. Healthy expressions of anger include first acknowledging the feeling, soothing yourself if necessary, and communicating your feelings to others.
Discipline in one area affects discipline in others
The interesting thing about discipline is that it doesn’t form in isolation. That means that while you may be focusing on just one area of your life, being disciplined expands into the rest of your life, too. That’s because discipline results in new habits and thinking patterns that apply everywhere. Thanks to the increased self-confidence you get from a “victory” in one area, it’s also often easier to develop discipline everywhere.
Discipline helps reduce stress
Everyone experiences stress, but when you’re disciplined, you’ll most likely feel less stressed than before. Better time management can play a big role in this because many hold stress when they’re rushed and not using their time well. Discipline in general makes life less chaotic. This helps people feel more in control and grounded.