The Five Pillars of Self-Discipline

The five pillars of self-discipline are: Acceptance, Willpower, Hard Work, Industry, and Persistence. If you take the first letter of each word, you get the acronym ?A WHIP? ? a convenient way to remember them, since many people associate self-discipline with whipping themselves into shape.

Each day of the series, I?ll explore one of these pillars, explaining why it?s important and how to develop it. But first a general overview?.

What Is Self-Discipline?

Self-discipline is the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state. Imagine what you could accomplish if you could simply get yourself to follow through on your best intentions no matter what. Picture yourself saying to your body, ?You?re overweight. Lose 20 pounds.? Without self-discipline that intention won?t become manifest. But with sufficient self-discipline, it?s a done deal. The pinnacle of self-discipline is when you reach the point that when you make a conscious decision, it?s virtually guaranteed you?ll follow through on it.

Self-discipline is one of many personal development tools available to you. Of course it is not a panacea. Nevertheless, the problems which self-discipline can solve are important, and while there are other ways to solve these problems, self-discipline absolutely shreds them.

Self-discipline can empower you to overcome any addiction or lose any amount of weight. It can wipe out procrastination, disorder, and ignorance. Within the domain of problems it can solve, self-discipline is simply unmatched. Moreover, it becomes a powerful teammate when combined with other tools like passion, goal-setting, and planning.

Building Self-Discipline

My philosophy of how to build self-discipline is best explained by an analogy. Self-discipline is like a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger you become. The less you train it, the weaker you become.

Just as everyone has different muscular strength, we all possess different levels of self-discipline. Everyone has some ? if you can hold your breath a few seconds, you have some self-discipline. But not everyone has developed their discipline to the same degree.

Just as it takes muscle to build muscle, it takes self-discipline to build self-discipline.

The way to build self-discipline is analogous to using progressive weight training to build muscle. This means lifting weights that are close to your limit. Note that when you weight train, you lift weights that are within your ability to lift. You push your muscles until they fail, and then you rest.

Similarly, the basic method to build self-discipline is to tackle challenges that you can successfully accomplish but which are near your limit. This doesn?t mean trying something and failing at it every day, nor does it mean staying within your comfort zone. You will gain no strength trying to lift a weight that you cannot budge, nor will you gain strength lifting weights that are too light for you. You must start with weights/challenges that are within your current ability to lift but which are near your limit.

Progressive training means that once you succeed, you increase the challenge. If you keep working out with the same weights, you won?t get any stronger. Similarly, if you fail to challenge yourself in life, you won?t gain any more self-discipline.

Just as most people have very weak muscles compared to how strong they could become with training, most people are very weak in their level of self-discipline.

It?s a mistake to try to push yourself too hard when trying to build self-discipline. If you try to transform your entire life overnight by setting dozens of new goals for yourself and expecting yourself to follow through consistency starting the very next day, you?re almost certain to fail. This is like a person going to the gym for the first time ever and packing 300 pounds on the bench press. You will only look silly.

If you can only lift 10 lbs, you can only lift 10 lbs. There?s no shame in starting where you are. I recall when I began working with a personal trainer several years ago, on my first attempt at doing a barbell shoulder press, I could only lift a 7-lb bar with no weight on it. My shoulders were very weak because I?d never trained them. But within a few months I was up to 60 lbs.

Similarly, if you?re very undisciplined right now, you can still use what little discipline you have to build more. The more disciplined you become, the easier life gets. Challenges that were once impossible for you will eventually seem like child?s play. As you get stronger, the same weights will seem lighter and lighter.

Don?t compare yourself to other people. It won?t help. You?ll only find what you expect to find. If you think you?re weak, everyone else will seem stronger. If you think you?re strong, everyone else will seem weaker.

There?s no point in doing this. Simply look at where you are now, and aim to get better as you go forward.

Let's consider an example.

Suppose you want to develop the ability to do 8 solid hours of work each day, since you know it will make a real difference in your career. I was listening to an audio program this morning that quoted a study saying the average office worker spends 37% of their time in idle socializing, not to mention other vices that chew up more than 50% of work time with unproductive non-work. So there?s plenty of room for improvement.

Perhaps you try to work a solid 8-hour day without succumbing to distractions, and you can only do it once. The next day you fail utterly.

That?s OK. You did one rep of 8 hours. Two is too much for you. So cut back a bit. What duration would allow you to successfully do 5 reps (i.e. a whole week)? Could you work with concentration for one hour a day, five days in a row? If you can?t do that, cut back to 30 minutes or whatever you can do. If you succeed (or if you feel that would be too easy), then increase the challenge (i.e. the resistance).

Once you?ve mastered a week at one level, take it up a notch the next week. And continue with this progressive training until you?ve reached your goal.

While analogies like this are never perfect, I?ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this one. By raising the bar just a little each week, you stay within your capabilities and grow stronger over time. But when doing weight training, the actual work you do doesn?t mean anything. There?s no intrinsic benefit in lifting a weight up and down ? the benefit comes from the muscle growth. However, when building self-discipline, you also get the benefit of the work you?ve done along the way, so that?s even better.

It?s great when your training produces something of value AND makes you stronger.

Throughout this week we?ll dive more deeply into the five pillars of self-discipline. If you have any questions on the subject of self-discipline (either specific or general) that you?d like to see addressed, feel free to post them as comments, and I do my best to incorporate them along the way.

This post is part one of a six-part series on self-discipline: part 1


Sapana Kale

From India, Pune

Hi Sapana

thanks for posting such nice topic

few more .......

Self Discipline - a vital characteristic

Lack of self discipline is a source of low self esteem.

Self discipline is something we all need because it is a vital characteristic of successful people. Why? Because nothing is as easy as it seems. There are always unforeseen challenges and problems on the path to success and achievement. To beat these you must persevere and be strong. Likewise eating disorders or other problems associated with excess (such as smoking or alcoholism) require will power.

Excessive habits foster low self esteem and lack of self confidence. If you suffer from an obsession and cannot control it you may blame or punish yourself. Likewise the reverse is also true low self esteem may cause some of these problems (eating too much, too little, binging or other damaging disorders), this is a vicious circle.

Self discipline helps you control your actions and make sure you stay on track. It is helpful if you suffer disorders like those above and need to break out and cure yourself. Please make use of help from friends or counsellors as this will support you in your efforts. Going it alone is very difficult!

Self discipline and your esteem

Self discipline matters to you:

It effects your confidence - being in control of yourself, your emotions and actions boosts your confidence and esteem!

It effects how you see yourself - your self image is so much better when you know you can succeed and change

It affects your ability to see a project through

It allows you to stay focused on your goals

It enables you to stay in control of yourself and of your reactions to any situation

You can change your life anyway you want to

You can cut out eating disorders, smoking or health problems caused by excesses - this requires will power and determination but if you have self discipline you can control and cure yourself of these problems, but do get help if you need it

Develop self discipline

Write a journal and note your successes - this will keep you motivated and on track!

Work on your goals

Develop your confidence - believe in yourself!

Learn moderation Too much food, drink, TV .. or smoking (and a hundred other things). Analyse the effect this is having and begin scaling it down bit by bit. Don't suddenly try to stop - that will probably fail anyhow. If you're tempted to do something you're trying to give up, remember why you're trying to give it up and the benefits of that and think about a better use of your time - what else should you be doing to move towards your goals? Get back on track now!

If you falter be determined to try again! Tell yourself you'll be stronger next time!

Reward yourself when you stay on course or in control despite difficulties or temptation


arun mishra

From India, Bahadurgarh

informative post
From India, Bahadurgarh

Attached Files
File Type: ppt self_discipline1_130.ppt (125.5 KB, 604 views)


Maintaining Motivation

Matthew Wegner

Flashbang Studios

Presentation Overview


Defining “Motivation”

The Role of Education

The Elements of Discipline

Self-improvement Overview


Project Planning


A Rant of Varying Descriptions

Matthew Wegner

Flashbang Studios


Co-founder, CEO of Flashbang Studios

FBS project history:

8 projects since May, 2003

6 of them games; 2 internal for-client projects

3 games have shipped

2 games currently in active development

Most recent title, Glow Worm, generated ~$9,000 revenue in its first month

It is not considered a success in the market


Human beings have ups and downs

Imagine your most productive time

100% excited

100% productive

Now imagine that, every waking hour

How much could you get done?

Defining Motivation

Main Entry: mo·ti·va·tion

Pronunciation: "mO-t&-'vA-sh&n

Function: noun

1 a : the act or process of motivating b : the condition of being motivated

Main Entry: mo·ti·vate

Pronunciation: 'mO-t&-"vAt

Function: transitive verb

Inflected Form(s): -vat·ed; -vat·ing

: to provide with a motive

Main Entry: 1mo·tive

Pronunciation: 'mO-tiv, 2 is also mO-'tEv

Function: noun

1 : something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act

Defining Motivation

Or, quite simply:

“The desire to do something.”

What Are Those Desires?

Why do you want to work on a project?


Hobby projects

Professional projects

Other projects/relationships

Why are you in school?

Why are you working your job?

The Point of Motivation

Getting something done.

So the question is:

What can I do to ensure that

I want to get something done?

Trick Question

Desire is an emotion

Emotions aren’t reliable

Finishing a project:

Projects aren’t finished by 100% motivation

Projects are finished by working when you don’t want to

A Better Question

What can I do to get something

done regardless of my wanting to?

One Perspective

An amateur is someone who does something when they want to do it

A professional is someone who does something when they don’t want to do it

Harsh Reality

If you require passion in order to work productively on a project, the retail game development world will absolutely crush you.

A Better Question

What can I do to get something

done regardless of my wanting to?

And the Answer


Self-discipline is the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state.

-Steve Pavlina

A Bit On Education

Assume a vocational-oriented student

Why do you go to school?


Why does someone go to the gym?

To lose weight/get fit/etc


To exercise.

Exercise results in weight loss/fitness gains/etc

The gym is an exercise aid.

Actually going to the building means nothing

School, Again

Why do you go to school?

To get a job in the game industry.


To improve yourself.

Improvement results in a game industry job

School is an improvement aid

This is a productive mindset

Back to Self-Discipline

The five pillars of self-discipline, as outlined by Steve Pavlina (



Hard Work




Accurately perceive reality

Consciously acknowledge those perceptions

Need to be accurate:

Have to know where you’re starting from

How about on a scale of 1-10?

Don’t compare to others

Compare to yourself


The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.

- Vince Lombardi


Main Entry: will·pow·er

Pronunciation: 'wil-"pau(-&)r

Function: noun

: energetic determination


Willpower is powerful

But it’s a temporary burst

No project can be sustained on willpower

So, how do you apply willpower?

Pavlina’s example:

Hard Work

What is hard work (not “working hard”)

Opposite of “easy work”, obviously

Work that challenges you

Easy work is taking the escalator

So why bother with hard work?


Working hard (not “hard work”)

Not necessarily work that’s hard

Any kind of work

Two ways to do this:

Put in the time where it’s needed

It may be boring. It may be tedious. Do it.

Become more productive

Increase your output/time ratio


“Persistence is the ability to maintain action regardless of your feelings. You press on even when you feel like quitting.”

Persistence produces results

Results themselves will motivate you

Self-Improvement At Large

Improvement should continue after school

Vocationally: GDC, forums, articles, etc

Personally: every way imaginable

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.”

— John Foster Dulles

Former Secretary of State

Self-Improvement Resources

Links to other articles/blog entries/etc

A wise man sharing his wisdom


Putting off doing something that you know you need to do

Actually a complex human phenomenon

But there are some generalities…

Typical Procrastination Scenario

Unrealistically optimistic about deadline

Continual assurances things are under control

Realization of impending doom dawns

Sudden gush of effort applied to project

Barely completed on time

Other Characteristics

Expression of stubbornness/pride

Some sense of victimization

Coping mechanism

Expression of “look how busy I am”

Low self-confidence


Reasons for Procrastination

The simple reasons

Task is too time-consuming

Task is too difficult

We lack the knowledge/skills

General fears

The solution?

Complex Reasons to Procrastinate


Everything needs to go completely right

May delay simply out of feeling overwhelmed

Common words: ought, must, have to, should

May be masking issues of self-confidence

Ways to resolve:


Realize it’s impossible to be perfect


A good plan implemented today is better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow.

George Patton

Complex Reasons to Procrastinate

Easily frustrated

Circumstances outside your control overwhelm

Prone to seeing things as unfair

Characterized by whining

Ways to resolve:

Get help/tutoring regarding problem

Postpone your desires

Steps to “Curing” Procrastination

Realize the delay is unnecessary.

Discover the real reasons for your delay.

Dispute the real reasons

Begin the task.

Behavioral Reinforcement

Procrastination is reinforcing negative attitudes about a task

When you procrastinate you:

Strengthen the habit of not doing

Practice avoidance instead of participation

Avoid acquiring new skills

Indoctrinate yourself with fears

“One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.”

-Michael Korda

“Nothing is so difficult that it cannot be accomplished by diligence.”


“How long should you try? Until.”

-Jim Rohn


Chasing down the definition:


The act or process of motivating.

The state of being motivated.


To provide with an incentive; move to action; impel.


Something, such as the fear of punishment or the expectation of reward, that induces action or motivates effort.

Motivation in America

Extremely commercialized concept

Amazon: “All 84930 results for motivation…”

Motivational speakers

Self-help seminars, tapes, books

Hell: I’m surprised Pfizer doesn’t sell a pill

As a result

Very stigmatized

Pigeonholed as the fatass Oprah audience member

Motivation as an Active Pursuit

We actively pursue all kinds of things

Knowledge (you’re sitting here, aren’t you?)

Physical fitness


Actively pursuing motivation means:

Reading new information

Attempting to build new habits

A general conscious awareness

To What End?

Everything needs a goal; or why do it?

Goals of active pursuit of motivation:

Getting more done

Productivity (more done, Y, in X time)

Industry (increase X if needed, without dropping Y)

Energizing others


General Motivation Tips

Keep a list of motivational quotes

Read books/articles

Make friends with successful people

Avoid people with shitty attitudes


Sleep every night, not just some

Keep work area clean, free of distractions

Project Management Motivation

Progress visibility is key:

Make sure everyone knows what everyone has been doing with their time

Progress towards a goal

Project morale is surprisingly difficult to navigate, even on a small team

Practical Motivation Tips

Or, more accurately, Getting Things Done

Humans are creatures of habit

Everything we do is practically a habit

New habits can be formed

Take advantage of the permanence of habits

Staring at a Project

Find yourself sitting down to work, ready to go, but just staring at your project/task list?


Swallow the frog

Swiss-cheese approach


Set up a reward

Project Planning Tips

Make your project objectives SMART:






How Much Planning?

“It's not the plan that is important, it's the planning.” - Graeme Edwards

All projects need a plan

Individually, task lists help a ton

Useful to plot chunks at once

Small reward to be able to mark one off

Globally-managed task lists too insane

My Recent Desk Shot

Why Plan at All? A Rant…

It’s very hard to see the forest for the trees.

Two important perspectives:

Lay of the land

The trenches

It’s really, really hard to see both

Plan in big blocks, when you see the forest

Too Much Planning

Don’t let the act of planning become psychologically rewarding

It’s like a kid planning a tree house

Enough fancy-pants plans, and actually building the tree house becomes unnecessary

Too much planning becomes counterproductive

An example:

Project Management and Scale

Small team projects are much simpler

The “just-ask-X” model works well enough

Documentation important still

More important with remote teams

Large-scale management own discipline

Tons of books on the issue

Not very relevant for most people here, I think


Accountability helps procrastination

Create external forces to impose accountability

Deadlines are good; but can be simpler

Audit yourself

Hardcore minute-to-minute task journals

Software solutions on one extreme

Simple ratings on the other

A Note on Depression

Context of motivation implies depression

Everybody gets depressed at some point or another; it’s the human experience

Clinical depression should be treated

What is Depression?

The first two, and at least one other of:

Two weeks of abnormal depressed mood

Loss of interest and decreased energy

Loss of confidence

Excessive guilt

Recurrent thoughts of death

Poor concentration

Agitation or retardation

Sleep disturbance

Change in appetite

My Legally-Unsound Advice

If you feel you may be clinically depressed, talk to someone professional

Otherwise, just snipe characteristics:

Low levels of activity? Exercise…

Messy environment? Clean it up…

After all, prescription drugs just snipe symptoms

If you have serious problems with motivation and depression, talk to someone professional

At the very least, check out


Motivation is a desire to do something

The point of motivation is doing things

You can’t ensure you’ll want to do things

So do things even when you don’t want to

Do this or suffer the fate of a thousand suffering donkeys, each more insufferably suffering than the previous

School, Again

Why do you go to school?

To get a job in the game industry.


To improve yourself.

Improvement results in a game industry job

School is an improvement aid

This is a productive mindset

Everything in school will improve you. Especially the stuff you think you hate.

From India, Bahadurgarh

If you are knowledgeable about any fact, resource or experience related to this topic - please add your views using the reply box below. For articles and copyrighted material please only cite the original source link. Each contribution will make this page a resource useful for everyone.

Please Login To Add Reply

About Us Advertise Contact Us
Privacy Policy Disclaimer Terms Of Service

All rights reserved @ 2021 CiteHR.Com™

All Material Copyright And Trademarks Posted Held By Respective Owners.
Panel Selection For Threads Are Automated - Members Notified Via CiteMailer Server