Willpower and Self Discipline

7 min read  · 

Willpower and Self Discipline

Willpower and Self Discipline

If you have the discipline to do little things you don’t like, you can spend your life doing the big things you do like. Discipline is not everyone’s favourite word. It probably slots in somewhere between dentist and diarrhea. Self discipline makes all the difference. Life is a trade off between instant pleasure and long term reward. Self discipline in the little things-studying instead of television leads to greater knowledge and better qualifications. Self discipline in the little things, for example four sessions at the gym per week = a healthier less stressed body and life. The key to self discipline is not an iron will. It is knowing why you want something. If you really know why you want to get out of debt, it’s easier to save. If you’re clear about why you want to improve your qualifications, it’s easier to study.

Something else about discipline. When you are self disciplined, you don’t need to get discipline from anywhere else. As a result, you run your own life and people don’t tell you what to do. When you don’t have self discipline, you get it from outside. People who can’t discipline themselves often slot into jobs where they take orders. People who have absolutely no self discipline get themselves locked up.

Good habits are your best helpers. Preserve their force by stimulating them with good actions. Bad habits are your worst enemies. They will make you do the things that hurt you most. They are detrimental to your physical, social, mental, moral and spiritual happiness. Starve bad habits by refusing to give them any further food of bad actions.

Paramahamsa Yogananda.


Willpower and Self Discipline are a choice. If you want to live out your highest potential or overcome some weakness, then you need to practice them in every aspect of your life. The mountain of soul achievement cannot be climbed by anyone who lacks control of body, mind and emotions. Willpower and discipline means that you have the ability to carry out a resolution long after the first flush of mood to do so has left you. It involves doing what you have said or theorized you’re going to do. 

When you embrace these two virtues you are not at the whim or mercy of external circumstances. They put you in control of what you think, feel, say and do. Without them we tend to be lazy, undirected and usually unhappy. As a health coach, I aim at cultivating willpower and discipline in all my clients. They give you control over your mind, body and emotions. They are vital to achieve your goals and purpose in life. They also bring freedom, peace and exhilaration into your life. For a person who is very unhappy or struggling with major health challenges, relationship problems, financial problems, career or job challenges, willpower and discipline are the strongest driving forces they need to succeed.  If you cultivate these two virtues, you acquire the ability to get things done. No matter what it is you need to get done, you draw on them like you would out of your bank account. Exercising them on the smallest tasks is how you accumulate inner resources that  are essential for greater challenges. I once fasted for 30 days. Before starting I explored taking on a one day fast, then a three day fast, next a ten day fast, a two week fast and finally a 30 day fast. After the 30 day fast, I made major changes in my life. Yes there were some big physical benefits from the fasting, but my self confidence had been so boosted by the fasts that I was easily able to take on new things that were well out of my previous comfort zone. While working towards a daunting goal, remember that you take it on one day at a time. That makes the task a lot easier.

We are all conditioned/brainwashed one way or another. Your earlier life experiences, your traditions, your family values, memes and the prevailing beliefs of your society tend to hold you back in all areas of your life. They gain power and strength through repetition. Repetition is the key to mastery or failure. Every time you are negatively conditioned, you lose a little of your freedom and your capacity to choose. When a negative desire first surfaces, you have to nip it in the bud, eradicate it quickly and firmly. When you feel like junk food, don’t give in. Exercise discipline. Use willpower to choose something healthy to eat or abstain from all food until you feel in control again.Perhaps choose to distract yourself with some activity until the conditioned desire dies down. If you pull this off, it helps to tap on all the EFT points while congratulating and praising yourself. Be a little over the top. Praise yourself way more than you think is necessary. Make a fuss over yourself like you would a child, adult or pet who had pulled off  an impressive act of mastery. This reinforcement is huge ( in Oprahs words) and creates compound interest in your self confidence bank account. 

Another test of our discipline and willpower is our conditioning to eat and drink mechanically. How often do you eat compulsively rather than from true hunger? What is your eating and drinking behavior at parties, social gatherings, the movies, when watching television, or attending sports events. Become aware of what you’re eating. Discipline yourself to eat slowly and only when truely hungry. In the spirit of coaching write about your patterns and big or small changes in your journal and share it with someone who is acting as your support system or coach. When you repeat a negative behavior, it develops into a bad habit. To eradicate your negative conditioning, to break bad habits and to strengthen your self-discipline, make a twenty one day agreement with yourself. For example you may want to stop eating before you feel stuffed at mealtimes. Make an agreement with yourself to do that. Resolve to stick with to your agreement every day for twenty one days. If you skip a day, you must begin the twenty one day cycle again. It takes twenty one days to form a new habit or break an old one. After twenty one days, your mind and body stop resisting the change you’re trying to make. Twenty one days isn’t a very long time. If you find your mind coming up with excuses, as it will, you can maintain discipline by reminding yourself that you have to continue for only twenty one days. On the first of every month, make an agreement with yourself to give up some unhealthy habit or to develop a positive new habit. In this way you can make twelve beneficial changes in your life each year.

Keeping your agreements with yourself boosts your self esteem and self confidence. I know how I feel when I say I’m going to do something and I don’t follow through on it. I feel bad. When I stay disciplined and do what I say I’m going to do, I feel empowered. Don’t you have respect for people who keep their word? I lose respect for those who don’t. I have  a few friends and some clients  who make a habit of saying they are going to do something, like start exercising regularly.When I check with them to see how they’re progressing, I hear a litany of excuses. They are dishonouring themselves and letting themselves down. Here is another quote from Yogananda:

It is only when you discard your bad habits that you are really a free man. Until you are a true master, able to command yourself to do the things that you should do, but may not  want to do, you are not a free soul. In that power of self control lies the seed of eternal freedom.

Here lies the core of self coaching. Practicing discipline in every aspect of our lives and keeping our word with ourselves. An external coach is very helpful until we have an impeccible relationship with our own internal coach. One way of mastering this art of inner discipline, willpower, or self coaching that gives swift results is to meditate every morning. I do 10-20 minutes in the morning after a little yoga and qi gong. It takes no longer than 40 minutes in total. It is very valuable to have a routine like this. Even if you are not committed to spiritual growth, meditate for its many practical health benefits. This type of routine  gives you more discipline in other areas of your life. More discipline + willpower = greater inner peace of mind and heart. Discipline is the road to freedom, mastery and peace. It enriches every aspect of your life.

     Discipline determines that all aspects of your being obey your will. Your life is then an exciting unfoldment. Discipline over your habits, your thoughts and your actions is essential. When your mind is disciplined, everything else falls into line. You can determine what you are to think. This is true dominion.

                      Donald Curtis. 

Taking Action.

1. In what areas of your life do you lack discipline?

2. If you were a disciplined person, how would your life be different?

3. What bad habits would you like to release?

4. What new behaviors or positive habits would you like to adopt?

5. Do you follow through on what you say you’re going to do?

6. Make a twenty one day agreement with yourself today to give up a bad habit.

7. Make your word count today. Follow through on all your agreements with yourself and others.

8. Get up before sunrise tomorrow and celebrate a brand new day of possibility. It takes great discipline to rise before the sun and it’s a wonderful  way to start the day.

9. Turn all bad habits, laziness, unwillingness and frustrations over to God, your Higher Self, the Universal All, the Source of all energy and Life no matter what you call it. Ask for guidance, strength, willpower and discipline.

10. Live in the presence of God, Divine Light, Your Eternal Source.

Tapping Exercise:

While tapping on each EFT/ tapping point say the follow affirmation- I make discipline a way of life for me now. My mind is disciplined, which means my body is disciplined. I give thanks that discipline shines through in everything I think, feel, say and do.