Cultivating Discipline: Taking Back Control of Your Life

“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius, Former Roman Emperor

When we think of regret, we do not often think of the perceived happiness that was associated with that momentary lapse of indulgence; we think of what should have been or only if things had been different. We fall into this matrix that produces instances of instant gratification, where the happiness we thought we would receive turns into a deeper abyss that distorts our dopamine levels. We do not realize that the greatest happiness comes from attaining meaningful goals, from delaying that instant gratification. The only way we can stick on that path and achieve those goals is by maintaining control over our minds with self-discipline.


How do we reach that point? How do we reach that level where we can have control over our minds? The shift must be gradual, and the most important thing to recognize is whether you are content with where your life is at the moment. The reality is that there will always be room for improvement. You can enjoy the little things on the way, but it is imperative to recognize when a change needs to happen in your life.


Self-awareness is an important tool in challenging your comfort zone. We recognize that we need a change that will positively affect our contentment levels. We recognize what our strengths are when faced with adversity, but what we should be recognizing is the fear of what we are trying to accomplish and how that will hold us down as long as it can. Self-awareness is the first step in developing discipline in our lives and it requires mental clarity and acknowledgment of our strengths and weaknesses and allows us the ability to set meaningful goals.


The process of attaining goals is made easier through a routine. This process helps facilitate the benefits of efficacious self-discipline. Having an effective routine can reduce stress, limit anxiety, and set you on a path that strengthens the control of your mind (Northwest Medicine, 2022). The routine will manifest uniquely with each person, but the benefits will be felt by all. It is important to try one thing at a time and not drastically implement changes all at once. It is very easy to become overwhelmed and resentful of the whole change because of the changes.

Checklist-like carpet is spread on the ground on top of a red carpet showing the way to go.
Checklist-like carpet is spread on the ground on top of a red carpet showing the way to go to foster a disciplined routine in your life. Illustration by Haimeng Ge.

From here, it is imperative that we set meaningful goals and checkpoints that align with our strengths and weaknesses. If part of your quest is to strengthen your resolve through discipline and self-control, it is important to become regimented with little excuse for error. If you have a goal to wake up earlier, you can start by addressing everything that is keeping you from that goal. In this case, you should go to sleep earlier; you should make the process of waking up earlier as easy as possible. If your goal is to wake up at 5:00 AM, start by waking up at 7:30 AM, and have an airtight idea of what the first 30 minutes after you wake up look like – shower, clothes, breakfast, general morning routine, etc. From here, the idea of a 5:00 AM start begins to look more feasible. It is difficult, but there are many proven benefits that come from self-control and discipline.


“Self-control is associated with indicators of successful functioning and well-being” (Gordeeva, 2017) It can also positively correlate with a positive mental state. Studies show that self-control is an important personal-motivational resource that contributes to success in life and improving psychological well-being (Gordeeva, 2017). Other studies have found that higher scores on self-control correlated with a higher grade point average, better adjustment – fewer reports of psychopathology and higher self-esteem, less binge eating and alcohol abuse, better relationships and interpersonal skills, secure attachment, and more optimal emotional responses (Baumeister, 2018).


What we have seen from creating this discipline in your life to implementing some more self-control, to curating a routine, is that at its core, its all about willpower. Willpower does deplete from time to time, but it is important to start changing the perception of your mind. If you do not believe you are capable of these changes, you will never change. If you believe you have a limited amount of willpower, you will not surpass those limits you already have. Ultimately, it is up to us to change our habits if we choose to. After all, we are more than capable.


Read more personal development related articles on Zealousness blog Personal Development – iN Education Inc. (



  1. Angeles, Arrien. “Instilling Discipline and Responsibility in Our Lives.” Awakin RSS, August 2008.
  2. Gleeson, Brent. “9 Powerful Ways to Cultivate Extreme Self-Discipline.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, October 12, 2022.
  3. Northwestern Medicine. “Health Benefits of Having a Routine.” Northwestern Medicine. Dec 2022.,emotional%20well%2Dbeing%20and%20energy.
  4. Roy F. Baumeister, June P. Tangney, and Angie Luzio Boone. Essay. In Self-Regulation and Self-Control. Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business, 2018.
  5. T.O. Gordeeva, E.N. Osin, D.D. Suchkov, T.Yu. Ivanova, O.A. Sychev & V.V. Bobrov.  Self-Control as a Personal Resource: Determining Its Relationships to Success, Perseverance, and Well-Being, Russian Education & Society, 59:5-6, 231-255, 2017. DOI: 10.1080/10609393.2017.1408367



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