Startup Tip 59: Develop self discipline – like you develop your muscles – one day at a time

To be successful at executing your startup idea, you are going to need a lot of self discipline. I don’t know about you, but this is an area I can always improve. Developing self discipline is a lot like training ourselves to be fit physically. We don’t expect to go to the gym after not working out for 3 years and be able to lift 60 lb weights. Same with self discipline. Just because you have set some great goals for your business, doesn’t mean you will have the self discipline to execute – unless you have trained yourself for it. You need to develop self discipline, the same way you build your muscles by doing weights – starting with what you can do now and increasing it.

Develop your self discipline by tackling challenges that you can successfully accomplish but are near your limit. Start where you are, accept that and grow from there. Don’t set heaps of new goals and then feel disappointed when you don’t stick to them. That’s like trying to run a marathon without doing any training and then beating yourself up because you don’t make it past the first 5 kms.

First find your natural limit. For instance, if you want to improve the amount of code you write a day, you want to find where you are currently at. If you do a focused 8 hour day and then don’t get anything done the next day, you have pushed past your limit. So find the number of hours you can do for 5 days. Even if you can just manage 2 hours of coding a day, do that for 5 days and then increase the amount each week. In this way, you will build your ability to focus and you will feel good and motivated to continue because you have set a realistic goal and achieved it.


Of course this technique can apply to whatever area of self discipline you want to improve.

Here are a series of question to help you take action. They can be applied to any area you like to develop your self discipline:

  • In what area do you want to set a goal to develop self discipline?
  • What is the end result that you want?
  • Where are you at now? What is your limit?
  • What realistic goal can you set that you can consistently keep?
  • How will you incrementally increase this to get to your end result?

Join the conversation:

What have you done to increase your self discipline? What worked? What didn’t?

Further Reading:

Here is the first post in an excellent series on how to develop self discipline by Steve Pavlina. It was the inspiration for this post. Have a look around his site. He has lots of great stuff.

Another great and in-depth article is Will Power: How To Improve Your Personal Self Discipline by Sid Savara

And I would love you to join me on Twitter or Facebook.

 Image used courtesy of Greg Westfall  under Creative Commons license.


  1. I completely agree with you about self discipline, Susan. It’s all about setting attainable goals then meeting and exceeding them… a step at a time.

  2. Hi Susan,

    My goal to improve my self-discipline was to create a detailed list of what takes up my time over one week. Then I could analyse where my free time was and where I have been wasting my time.

    I wanted to contribute extra time to my business so I had to create it. I can now add an additional 4 hours to my working week which I’m determined to stick too!

    Thanks for great read



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