7 Popular Self-Discipline Quotes Explained

Think of something – a goal or a habit – that you want to obtain, but sadly always remains out of reach. Maybe you haven’t gotten around to it, are too fearful to go for it, or perhaps you made a bold attempt but failed spectacularly. Summon in your mind that big failure. Ready? Great! Now keep reading…

Without a doubt, we all have unattained goals and memories of gigantic letdowns. That’s obvious. Of course, some of us are better at keeping our motivation high despite the setbacks, but that’s kind of obvious too.

In the years I’ve spent writing about habits, values, self-discipline, and self-improvement, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with others who are trying to make their lives richer. But also the opportunity to understand what prevents them from reaching this dream state.

What I found is a profound problem we all struggle with. One particular type of behavior that is masked as helpful but rarely is.


Personal growth is not a matter of constantly consuming new information, but of constantly expanding your own limits.

I’ve read a fair dose of self-help books, self-discipline quotes, self-improvement articles, and amused my ears with hours of inspirational podcasts.

Did all of this help me along the way?

Well, it kind of did.

But at a certain point, you want – and need – to spend proportionally more time doing things instead of reading about doing things.

The online world is full of “quotes that will change your life”. But do you really think that solely reading what others have said once upon a time can alter your life?

It can’t!

Eventually, we understand the harsh truth. That is, only by doing, we can make improvements in our lives.

In this post, my aim is to take a couple of famous self-discipline quotes and distill the essence – i.e., creating self-discipline quotes with explanation type of publication.

The goal is not to read the words and resume your typical way of living. But by grasping the meaning behind the words, to eventually become a self-disciplined person – not only read about becoming one.

Why Spend Time Pondering Self-Discipline Quotes?

Before we dive deep into the selection of self-discipline quotes. Let’s discuss for a brief moment why consuming quotes about self-discipline might be a good idea for an afternoon break in the first place.

The immediate thought that blinks in my head when I think about an article listing quotes – self-discipline quotes in this case. It’s a trivial page with stock images, a gazillion motivational words, and ads that appear from every corner trying to seduce you to get a product you don’t actually need.

Of course, I won’t focus on this kind of publication.

What I will concentrate on is making you scroll less and think more about the actual words.

See, it’s not about skimming through 21, 73, 100, or whatever magic number of quotes might seem click-worthy. It’s about thinking what was said and why it was said.

For self-discipline quotes to have some lasting impact on your thinking – and performance. Glancing through them won’t make you more consistent. You will be better off if you understand the meaning behind the words – and then apply it to your life.

With that being said, let’s now see a selection of quotes that can help you stay on track with your goals, long-term vision, and personal core values.

7 Popular Self-Discipline Quotes Explained:

1. “Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.” Clint Eastwood

Quote on self-discipline: Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that's real power. Clint Eastwood

Guaranteed express ticket to lack of self-discipline: not respecting yourself.

A lack of self-respect can contribute to a variety of feelings: anxiety, depression, self-doubt, etc.

When these feelings are part of your daily cocktail of emotions. You will inevitably try to escape them. And what do you do? The classic example: doom-scrolling on social media accompanied by compulsive shopping.

When you respect yourself, it encourages setting and maintaining boundaries. You are more driven to pursue your long-term goals and push through the challenges and the inevitable setbacks.

Self-respect is “real power” as Clint Eastwood says, because it triggers constructive inner dialogue. Instead of holding dearly to your past mistakes, you become your own cheerleader rather than your harshest critic.

This newfound confidence reflects in your actions. Thus, you start to approach challenges with a “can-do” attitude.

2. “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Ralph Marston

Quote on self-discipline: "What you do today can improve all your tomorrows." Ralph Marston

The only time we have is now.

Our daily actions shape our future.

We can craft a better tomorrow if we prioritize the difficult tasks. For obvious reasons, however, postponing hard-to-tackle duties for tomorrow always seems better.

We are conditioned to prioritize immediate rewards over delaying them.

From a biological standpoint, this makes perfect sense. Since the main goal of the human body – biologically speaking – is to survive and replicate. Our initial thought about doing things that require a lot of energy is not doing them – preserving our resources, which puts us in a better position if there is a sudden threat.

This type of behavior served us well when we were living in caves and forests. But nowadays, it’s doing us a huge disservice. We are surrounded by (dangerous) things that allow us to preserve our energy while having a great time – social media, binge-watching shows, etc. However, as you can sense, the inclination to postpone important tasks can significantly damage our future.

As I wrote in my post, Doing Something Once Vs. Doing It Every Day: Making a sale today won’t mean that you will stay in business if you don’t keep selling every day.

In short, the efforts you invest today in the most important task will ripple into better tomorrows.

3. “In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.” Harry S Truman

Quote on self-discipline: "In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first." Harry S Truman

Commonly, we think that other people are preventing our ascent.

We attribute our low salary to external factors like our impulsive boss or the unstable market.

We say, “Because of them, I am unsuccessful and unhappy. If only these things were different. I would be finally satisfied.”

Yet, this type of thinking leads to a very unproductive existence. In particular, it removes the pressure from ourselves.

Since we are convinced that they are the problem. It leads us to think that there is nothing we can do to adjust our life trajectory. Thus, we do nothing.

The quote by Harry S Truman aims to focus you… on you.

Your personal triumph won’t happen in some grand battlefield or political arena; it’s within the confines of your own mind.

Before you start blaming others for your misfortunes. See what you can do about them. Start conquering the world by first conquering your own demons.

4. “I think self-discipline is something, it’s like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.” Daniel Goldstein

Quote on self-discipline: "I think self-discipline is something, it's like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets." Daniel Goldstein

The people who suffer from a lack of self-discipline firmly believe that you either have it or you don’t.

These folks think of this the same way they think about talent vs. skill.

However, self-discipline is not something you are born with. It’s something you nurture.

It’s quite literally a muscle. You build it, then it gets stronger.

And how do you build it?

Well, there are self-discipline exercises and there are self-discipline books to read.

But in general, it’s mostly about this: postponing pleasurable activities and focusing on doing the work.

5. “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” Jim Rohn

Quote on self-discipline: "Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going." Jim Rohn

Self-improvement and living a good life are associated with internal drive.

As we develop, we adopt one dangerous heuristic. That is, we rely on outside forces to push us, to motivate us, to be the source that propels us.

While this might work when you are at school or when you are at work. It becomes obsolete when you are at home and when there is no one around to push you. For this reason, sitting around and watching TV reruns all day quickly becomes your go-to activity.

In the context of getting 1% better daily, you first need motivation. You need to want to change in order to change.

This usually presents itself as some outside reward.

  • You want a higher salary, thus, you feel motivated to learn new skills.
  • You want a better-looking body, thus, you feel motivated to visit the gym.
  • You want a clutter-free home, thus, you feel motivated to declutter and organize.

However, motivation alone won’t get you far – as I highlighted in my post motivation vs. discipline.

Once you know what you want. Once you are eager to change. You need to – and here’s where most people quit – develop better habits that will help you stay on track.

And how is self-discipline related to habits?

Well, self-discipline plays a crucial role in forming new habits. You need self-discipline in the process of acquiring good habits and also in the process of keeping them.

6. “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” Jim Rohn

Quote on self-discipline: "Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments." Jim Rohn

The words by Jim Rohn encapsulate a fundamental truth about any sort of meaningful accomplishment. More precisely, setting goals is insufficient if you don’t also set clear actionable steps to reach those goals.

We all adore the idea of setting goals. But it’s the marriage to effort that unlocks these goals.

The gap between where you are and where you want to be can be closed only through effort – disciplined effort.

Just as no one will keep your seat if you occasionally show up for work. It’s not going to work if you occasionally show up for your projects too.

You need to know where you are going and take daily steps to get there.

7. “With self-discipline, most anything is possible.” Theodore Roosevelt

Quote on self-discipline: "With self-discipline, most anything is possible." Theodore Roosevelt

The last quote I want to discuss is quite good. But also quite general.

What Theodore Roosevelt said oversimplifies the concept of self-discipline.

The suggestion is that self-discipline is the sole factor determining success. But what about DNA, where you are born, resources, and other external circumstances that all play a significant part in your journey toward the top?

Well, personally, I believe that even if you lack some of the just-mentioned, success is still possible if you have self-discipline.

Sure, you might be born in an unfavorable neighborhood and raised by careless parents. And yet, there are quite a few stories of people who managed to prevail despite the countless obstacles.

Of course, you need other qualities. But they all rely on one core component: self-discipline.

Whether you want to fight an addiction, improve your concentration, overcome the procrastination habit, or excel in a profession, consistent practice and improvement require self-discipline.

It’s the main skill that keeps individuals, us, committed to the process of growth and development.

Some Closing Thoughts

The online world is crowded with all sorts of inspirational catchphrases. A combination of words said by usually famous people that aim to propel you forward.

But as sites, Instagram superstars, and boastful Twitter users eagerly share them. Readers cheerfully ignore them.

Not because we are not moved by the motivational phrases we read online, but because, in a sense, we are not moved enough.

We read the words and then we simply carry on with our lives.

My goal with the above was to go beyond what was said and discuss why it was said.

Hopefully, you gained a better perspective on some of the best self-discipline quotes.

Add to your self-discipline toolset by reading the following:

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