Crack that whip – on yourself. The many benefits of self-discipline.

For many of us, the notion of self-discipline seems like the most boring, least fun way to lead your life.

The grim-faced workaholics doing push-ups at 5am, before cleaning the oven, practicing the Korean alphabet and then cycling off to work.

And who in their right mind wants to be associated with a psycho like that?

In fact, self-discipline is not only very achievable, but delivers ridiculous amounts of benefits that enhance your mood, outlook and living in general.

Best of all, it’ free.

Let’s check some examples of day-to-day self-discipline that any of us can strive for.

Then we’ll look at the good stuff – how these little victories in your day can give you a seriously productive and satisfying life. Honest.

“No” simply means Not Yet

Having the guts to resist devilish temptations is one of the cornerstones of developing a granite-like core of self-discipline. Anyone who says they don’t have temptations of some kind is either a liar or just plain odd. We all do, and they come in many forms.

It could be opting against another packet of chips, donut, insert junk food of choice. It’s also far easier if you replace the naughty nibble with something healthy, thereby not only stopping the stomach rumbling but in a good way. Think fruit, nuts, a shake – there simply must be something out there you can opt for.

Don’t forget – we’re not talking about giving up the Pringles, just moderating the intake.

It’s food for some, almost anything for others.

Would kill for a drink tonight. Hang on, I had a few yesterday and am seriously getting on it tomorrow with the gang. Perhaps no.

Now to check my Instagram feed, only takes 20 minutes or so. Woah, I did that for 30 minutes an hour ago. Let’s not.

You get the idea. Move on quickly to something you definitely should be doing, and the fleeting temptation is in the past. You get to high five yourself for dodging a bullet.

Which brings us to…

I really don’t want to, so I will

The foundation of a self-discipline fortress is like ripping off a Band-Aid. Getting into the habit of doing all those vile little jobs as soon as you can puts your day in good stead.

By “vile”, we mean anything you couldn’t be arsed doing, but know you should.

Maybe it’s getting all those old books lying around ready for recycling. It might be emailing that accountant about your tax, getting your lunch ready for the next day so you don’t have to buy it or possibly even just cutting your toenails.

Ticking off the dreaded tasks not only takes a load off your mind, but frees up your day and can even save you money.

Move that body

Exercising comes easy for some. They’re the type who get narky if the gym’s closed or the weather’s too crappy to go running. Weirdoes.

Then there are the others.

Many know they should, so begrudgingly go through the motions. Sometimes it might be an inspired couple of weeks, even months, but it can all come to a screeching halt and then nothing for a while. Before they start up again, and so on.

And of course, there are those who just laugh in the face of exercise. Either can’t be bothered, simply not interested, whatever. It’s just not going to happen.

The first group will basically find a way to get some kind of exercise. Self-discipline isn’t a problem for this lot, although learning to tone down the intensity mightn’t hurt either.

During the lockdowns they went to hardware stores and bought 20 kilo bags of cement to use as dumbbells. They made their long-suffering family members sit on their backs as they did pushups.

For those who can either take it or leave it, adding regular exercise to the routine is one of the best ways to instill some healthy self-discipline into your life.

It doesn’t have to be much – even a daily 20 minute stroll – but making the time to do something is what it’s all about.

The real test is when you’re too tired / hungover / unmotivated / it’s pissing down…etc. By nailing some exercise in these fragile moments, you’re becoming a machine. Not unlike the Terminator, and preferably the good one.

The “e” word

Emotions. Most of us have them and some control them better than others. This can be a real toughie to master, but very much worth the effort.

It could mean resisting the urge to give someone a spray while driving. Maybe cut down on fuming at someone fumbling over the self-pay register or sighing exaggeratedly if things don’t go your way. It’s not a good luck and your heart will thank you for it.

It might feel strange, but think of the big picture – becoming such a decent person that you make the world a better place simply by heading out the front door.

Count to 10, count to 100, count to 1,000 if necessary.

And now for the good stuff. These are the kind of spoils awaiting you, if you can manage to craft even a smidgen of self-discipline.


Yawn, who needs it – I’m not climbing Everest…some might groan. Spoken like a true weakling.

Building self-discipline gives you the mental strength to get through tough situations. No matter who you are, they do come.

In times of crisis, how will you cope? Like a cast iron statue of a lion or a like a lemon meringue pie?

High achiever

Don’t worry, we’re not talking about those bores who learn Arabic while running marathons. It’s simply about getting things done.

You want to start up a business of some kind? Thank you, self-discipline.

Keen to learn an instrument, bench press 100kg, write a book or finish a course? Not at the same time, presumably. Piece of cake.

Spring in the step

Just knowing that you’re being productive in even the tiniest ways each day gives you a new lease of life. You’re functioning like a well-oiled machine, getting things done and your mood is good.

This can’t be a bad thing.

At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of choice. But mastering some self-discipline can be surprisingly fun (no, really) and definitely worthwhile.

Now if you’ll excuse us, there’s an oven that needs cleaning…


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