5 Tiny Signs You Have Impressively Powerful Discipline

Discipline is the gateway to greatness.

Last updated on May 28, 2024

disciplined woman with her arms crossed romeovip_md / Shutterstock

Discipline is a trait that everyone wants to build, but many often don't have the tools to follow through on improving. Some may not even know what discipline is.

But discipline is actually just training your mind and body to do what you want them to do. It's keeping the promises you make to yourself. It's a way to stay focused on the long-term goals you have and ignore your short-term desires.

In essence, discipline is a powerful force that helps you drive toward greatness.


Here are 5 tiny signs you have impressively powerful discipline

1. You recognize what you can't change

Most people think they are 100% in control of their lives. But they aren't. And there's proof.

There was a study conducted in a hospital cafeteria. In one scenario, for a few weeks in the cafeteria, soft drinks were both on the menu and on display in the refrigerator. In a second scenario, for a few weeks, soft drinks were replaced with water bottles in the refrigerator but they were still on the menu.

The study found that sales of soft drinks dropped significantly in the second scenario! This means the cafeteria manager had the power to influence a lot of people's health choices without them even realizing it.


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The point here is that your environment influences your decisions way more than you think. So, if your environment goes against your discipline, it's a constant war that you're going to fight — some battles you may win, but some you're going to lose.

Hence, the only way to truly win is to end the war altogether. Design your environment to support you.

disciplined woman RON JACOB LEONADOR / Pexels


2. You understand the fastest route isn't always the best route

Whatever your destination might be, there are many ways to reach it. But there's a mistake many people make.

Since they want immediate results, they go for the shortest route. But they don't like this route. However, they think they can push through — but this is not true for 98% of people. They eventually quit the path and the journey altogether.

A better alternative is to choose a path that may be a bit longer, as it could be the one that you'll actually enjoy walking on. That will make your journey more sustainable and, paradoxically, get you results faster.

For instance, if you want to lose weight, quit the super-strict no junk food diet. Instead, choose a diet that allows for a little bit of indulgence here and there while still maintaining a caloric restriction. Choose the diet you can stick to for the longest, creating a lifestyle change in the process.


3. You communicate well with others

More often than not, people (especially people who are close to you) can turn out to be distractions in your life. And it's not necessarily their fault. Their goals, schedules, and work ethic cannot always align with yours. So, people will act as distractions in your life, and you in theirs.

It's a good idea to try to train people around you to support your discipline, and not try to break it. For instance, people around Tim Denning know that they're not supposed to call him on his writing days, which are two days a week.

Other writers, myself included, sometimes won't use their phone at all on writing days. They may tell their partner or friends and family the importance of being distraction-free on those days. Even if they do end up calling, a person with powerful discipline will kindly remind them of the boundaries and carry on.


It's not manipulation. It's just you conveying to the people around you the importance of your discipline. And it can be direct as well.

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4. You know how and when to go easy on yourself

There are two ways to go easy on yourself:

  1. You make reasonable promises to yourself, but always keep them. For example, "Going to the gym six days a week is turning out to be tiring. But I said I'll go today, so I'll go today. But from next week, I'll try out a four-day split."
  2. You don't keep the promises you make to yourself. For instance, "I know I said that I'll go to the gym today, but it's been a tiring day at work. It's okay if I skip."

red-headed woman smiling disciplined Atahan Demir / Pexels


Come back to reality and realize that it's not okay to have the mindset of the second scenario. In scenario one, you respect your word. But in scenario two, you go back entirely on your word. And it's not something disciplined people do.

Discipline is all about respecting the promises you make yourself. So, if you want to go easy on yourself, make easier promises — but always keep them. Steer clear of making promises you don't intend to keep.

5. You know how to stay on task, even when your own mind is against you

Your reptile mind is incredibly cunning. It knows exactly how to break your discipline and turn you into a "wakes-up-in-the-afternoon-and-snacks-on-chips-all-day" person. How?

Let's say you're waking up at 6 a.m. every day for a month. It's not like your brain is suddenly suggesting that you wake up at 11 a.m. You won't entertain that. So, it makes a request that you will say yes to.


At 6 a.m., it will say, "Let's just sleep for five more harmless minutes." And you think, "Well, it's just five minutes. It does seem harmless." And it does this again and again. And you say yes because you think these micro-requests to break your discipline are benign and harmless.

But they are anything but harmless. Because, over time, these keep hammering at your discipline until, one day, it breaks wide open — and you find yourself waking up at 11 a.m.

That's why you need to stay vigilant of these micro-seemingly-harmless requests to break your discipline. They're not harmless. They're a gateway to self-destruction. Don't give into them.


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Akshad Singi, M.D. is a writer whose work has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, Medium, and more.