4 Things Self-Disciplined People Don’t Do

#2: Waiting for motivation

Nick Wignall


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

We rightly admire self-disciplined people. Because whatever your goals are — from making the Olympics or starting a business to writing a novel or sticking to a new diet — self-discipline is often a key ingredient.

Still, self-discipline is a misunderstood concept, mainly because we think about it as a fixed personality trait. But here’s what most people don’t understand:

Self-discipline is more about habits than genetics.

As a psychologist, I work with a lot of people struggling to be more disciplined in their lives. And what I’ve noticed is that it’s not for lack of desire or motivation…

The reason we struggle to be more disciplined isn’t a moral failing or faulty genes — it’s that bad habits interfere with our natural ability to be disciplined.

If you want to become a more self-disciplined person, learn to identify these habits and eliminate them. Self-discipline won’t be far behind.

1. Relying on willpower

People with a lot of self-discipline understand that willpower is a last resort.

Think about willpower like the emergency brake in your car — it’s nice to have, but you would be in serious trouble if you relied on it as the primary way to slow your car down.

Willpower should never be a primary strategy for accomplishing difficult things.

Self-disciplined people understand that there are far more effective strategies for staying committed to challenging goals and tasks. For example, a “secret weapon” many high-discipline people take advantage of is environmental design.

The basic idea is that instead of pushing yourself through a goal, it’s better to design your environment to be conducive to the goal and pull you through it.

For example:

Let’s say you need to study intensely for an upcoming exam. Instead of trying to “stay focused” studying at home when you’re bombarded by distractions, from the big TV in your living room to the roommate bugging you about going out to a bar, pack up your things, go to a library, leave your…



Nick Wignall

Psychologist and writer sharing practical advice for emotional health and well-being: https://thefriendlymind.com