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365 Days With Self-Discipline 365 Life-Altering Thoughts on

Self-Control, Mental Resilience, and Success

By Martin Meadows

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Table of Contents

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Day 1: On Living the Hard Way

Day 2: On Your Choices

Day 3: On Being a Human

Day 4: On Creating Systems

Day 5: On Enslavement to Self

Day 6: On Superhumans

Day 7: On Poverty and Self-Discipline WEEK 2

Day 8: On Unessential Necessities Day 9: On Your Future Self

Day 10: On Building Your Story

Day 11: On Self-Discipline and Talent Day 12: On Calmness of Mind

Day 13: On What You Want Now and What You Want Mos t Day 14: On Long-Term Focus


Day 15: On Constant Improvement Day 16: On Self-Reliance

Day 17: On Rising from the Ashes of Failure Day 18: On Higher Standards

Day 19: On Fighting Well

Day 20: On Taking Small Steps

Day 21: On the Importance of Habits


Day 22: On Self-Discipline as Freedom

Day 23: On Disciplined Education

Day 24: On Happiness Through Self-Discipline Day 25: On Starting Today

Day 26: On the Long-Term Consequences of Your Choices Day 27: On Following the Wrong Path

Day 28: On Living in Offensive Mode


Day 29: On Avoiding Effort

Day 30: On Looking Like a Foo |

Day 31: On Being “Normal”

Day 32: On Cultivating Self-Discipline Like a Plant Day 33: On Things You Can’t Rush

Day 34: On Enlightenment

Day 35: On the Value of Difficulty


Day 36: On Pushing Your Limits Step by Step Day 37: On Initial Resistance

Day 38: On Moderation as a Good Thing

Day 39: On Moderation as a Bad Thing

Day 40: On Talking vs. Doing

Day 41: On Arrogance

Day 42: On Diligent Practice


Day 43: On Making Continuous Efforts

Day 44: On Optimism

Day 45: On Honesty

Day 46: On Looking Fear in the Face

Day 47: On the Folly of Loafing Around

Day 48: On the Deadening of the Soul

Day 49: On Obeying Lust s


Day 50: On Not Resting on Your Laurels

Day 51: On Taking Action, in Spite of Potential Criticism Day 52: On Thinking for Yourself

Day 53: On Having a Burning “Yes” Inside

Day 54: On Underestimating the Long-Term Approach Day 55: On Bearing Misfortunes Nobly

Day 56: On Thinking You Can


Day 57: On Two Types of Happiness

Day 58: On Cultivating Physical Excellence

Day 59: On Your Vices Masquerading as Virtues Day 60: On Pressing On

Day 61: On Extreme Actions

Day 62: On Moonshot Projects

Day 63: On the Will Being Stronger Than the Skill WEEK 10

Day 64: On Seeing Obstacles as Hurdles

Day 65: On Self-Discipline with Mone y

Day 66: On Pointless Complaints

Day 67: On Borrowing Money

Day 68: On Choosing the Right Motivator

Day 69: On Climbing Steep Hills

Day 70: On Parkinson’s Law


Day 71: On Taking a Step Forward

Day 72: On the Value of the Struggle

Day 73: On Having Fun

Day 74: On Acting Less and Thinking More

Day 75: On Haters

Day 76: On Changing Your Mind

Day 77: On Hurting Yourself with Your Own Judgments WEEK 12

Day 78: On Collaboration

Day 79: On Books

Day 80: On Cultivating Positivity When Things Go Bad Day 81: On Identifying Your Resources

Day 82: On Extreme Focu s

Day 83: On Changing Your Identity

Day 84: On Work and Chatter


Day 85: On Experimenting to See What Happens Day 86: On the Spillover Effect of Success

Day 87: On Attributing Failure to External Factors Day 88: On the Comfort Zone

Day 89: On Not Making Excuses

Day 90: On Quitting in a Smart Way

Day 91: On Starting Now


Day 92: On Pleasure Gained from Abstaining

Day 93: On Connecting Dots

Day 94: On Overidentifying With Your Emotions

Day 95: On Early-morning Workouts Day 96: On Silence

Day 97: On Treating Yourself Well Day 98: On Society (Not) Holding You Back


Day 99: On Applying Knowledge

Day 100: On Being a Leade r

Day 101: On the Ultimate Excellence in Self-Discipline Day 102: On the Deeper Meaning Behind Temptations Day 103: On Controlled Burn

Day 104: On the Past Predicting the Future

Day 105: On Predicting When You’ll Give In


Day 106: On Valuing Your Own Opinion

Day 107: On the Innocent Distractions

Day 108: On Following a Routine

Day 109: On the Size of Containers

Day 110: On Moving Yourself Closer to the Finish Line Day 111: On Patience With Mindset Changes

Day 112: On Self-Licensing


Day 113: On a Lack of Time

Day 114: On Fulfilling Your Own Standards

Day 115: On the Cost of Indulgence

Day 116: On Taking the Low Road

Day 117: On Dressing New Things in Old Habit s Day 118: On Free Things

Day 119: On Hatching the Egg


Day 120: On Handling Interruptions to Your Routine

Day 121: On the Mark of a Champion

Day 122: On Making Agreements With Yourself

Day 123: On Doing This or Nothing

Day 124: On Daily Gratitude

Day 125: On Going Away From Work

Day 126: On Shedding Light on the Dark Things


Day 127: On Cold Exposure

Day 128: On Principles

Day 129: On Everyday Practice

Day 130: On Working on Laziness

Day 131: On Building an Ark

Day 132: On Being Willing to Be Bad

Day 133: On Self-Caring


Day 134: On Staying Congruen t

Day 135: On Staying in Love With Your Goals

Day 136: On the Desire for Happiness Replacing the Need for Self- Discipline

Day 137: On Waiting for Ten Minutes

Day 138: On Nature Boosting Your Focus

Day 139: On Tolerating an Absence of Novelty

Day 140: On Longing for Paradise


Day 141: On Punctuality

Day 142: On Keystone Habits

Day 143: On Falling in Love With the Idea of Starting

Day 144: On the Work of a Human Being

Day 145: On Complicating the World for Profit Day 146: On Decision Avoidance

Day 147: On Walking by Your Mistakes


Day 148: On Fear

Day 149: On the Weak Point in Your Armor Day 150: On Indulgences Charging You Interest Day 151: On Changing Your Characte r

Day 152: On the Future Value of Money

Day 153: On Spontaneity

Day 154: On the Value of Doing Things Yourself WEEK 23

Day 155: On Broadening Your Horizons

Day 156: On Wanting What We Already Have Day 157: On Remembering Death

Day 158: On Learning From the Greats

Day 159: On Having Options

Day 160: On Deliberate Practice

Day 161: On Addressing the Real Mistakes WEEK 24

Day 162: On Inverse Paranoia

Day 163: On Angry Comebacks

Day 164: On Easing Yourself Into the Pain

Day 165: On Not Living Up To Your Ideals Day 166: On Handling Emotions

Day 167: On Routines Overcoming a Bad Mood

Day 168: On Wasting Your Energy When You Don’t Have Important Rituals

WEEK 2 5

Day 169: On Stopping at the Right Moment to Help You Tomorrow Day 170: On Supply and Demand

Day 171: On Stress

Day 172: On Having More Than One Identity

Day 173: On Eating Alone

Day 174: On Experiencing Life

Day 175: On Improving Self-Control by Using Your Other Hand WEEK 26

Day 176: On Jotting Things Down

Day 177: On Sleep

Day 178: On Losing Momentum

Day 179: On Effort Generating Satisfaction

Day 180: On Paying the Price as Fast as Possible Day 181: On the Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Day 182: On Saying No


Day 183: On Shocking Your Body

Day 184: On Creating Value

Day 185: On Staying With Problems Longe r

Day 186: On Simple Rules

Day 187: On Not Judging Too Quickly

Day 188: On Pride

Day 189: On Adventures


Day 190: On Being Specific About Your Resolutions Day 191: On Futile Determination

Day 192: On Being in It for the Long Term

Day 193: On Becoming a New Person

Day 194: On Pain and Quitting

Day 195: On Procrastination as Your Ally

Day 196: On Impermanent Motivation


Day 197: On Eliminating a Negative Attitude Day 198: On Your Maxims

Day 199: On Your Inaction Hurting Others

Day 200: On Fretting About Yesterday’s Problems Day 201: On Teaching Others

Day 202: On Accepting the Worst

Day 203: On Maintaining Composur e


Day 204: On Psychological Limits

Day 205: On Treating Hate as an Exercise

Day 206: On Vice Fasts

Day 207: On Enthusiasm and Endurance

Day 208: On Profiting From Your Losses

Day 209: On Finishing Quick Tasks Right Away Day 210: On Deferring Happiness


Day 211: On a Simple Adherence Hack

Day 212: On Learning From Your Illness

Day 213: On Sudden Trials

Day 214: On Fearing the Future

Day 215: On Self-Determination

Day 216: On Accounting for Flexibility in Your Plans Day 217: On Things Not Being Up to Us


Day 218: On Protein in Your Diet

Day 219: On Dropping Unnecessary Tasks

Day 220: On a Lack of Visio n

Day 221: On Antimodels

Day 222: On Your Depleting Willpower

Day 223: On Clear Cues and Rewards

Day 224: On Juggling Five Balls


Day 225: On Following Someone Else’s Plan Day 226: On Waiting to Be Saved

Day 227: On Being Stuck in the Past

Day 228: On Going Where Your Eyes Go

Day 229: On the Opportunity in Chaos

Day 230: On Laser-Focusing on Specific Aspects Day 231: On Minimizing What You Need WEEK 34

Day 232: On Going All In

Day 233: On Obstacles as Filters

Day 234: On Forgiving

Day 235: On Looking Only One Day Ahead

Day 236: On Being a Normal Chap

Day 237: On Shifting Responsibility to Others Day 238: On Dividing Your Life into 10-Minute Unit s WEEK 35

Day 239: On Imagining the Process as a Litmus Test Day 240: On Separating Yourself From the Pain Day 241: On Enabling the Future

Day 242: On Selectivity

Day 243: On the Crime of Aiming Too Low

Day 244: On the Fun in the Impossible

Day 245: On Following or Leaving a Path


Day 246: On Learning the Big Ideas

Day 247: On First-Order and Second-Order Consequences Day 248: On Reducing Your Targets

Day 249: On Working Backwards

Day 250: On Fluctuating Energy

Day 251: On Relaxing While Working

Day 252: On Getting Older


Day 253: On the Invisible Prison Bars

Day 254: On Capitalizing on Your Talent s

Day 255: On Self-Image

Day 256: On Taking a Real Decision

Day 257: On Being Impeccable With Your Word

Day 258: On Helping, With No Strings Attached

Day 259: On the Motivation to Get Up Early


Day 260: On Courage

Day 261: On Giving Up the Last Word

Day 262: On Fragility Caused by Comfort

Day 263: On Thinking for Yourself

Day 264: On Being Honest With Yourself About Your Feelings Day 265: On Transformation Taking Place Now

Day 266: On Temptations and Your Decision What to Do About Them


Day 267: On Self-Monitoring

Day 268: On Taking Ownership for Your Ideas

Day 269: On Stretching

Day 270: On Self-Reflection

Day 271: On How to Use Book s

Day 272: On Extinguishing Bad Habits

Day 273: On Reprogramming Your Brain


Day 274: On Constant Movement

Day 275: On Staying a Champion

Day 276: On the Price of Personal Growth

Day 277: On Making Things Convenient

Day 278: On the Rent Axiom

Day 279: On Learning With Age

Day 280: On Seeing Your Troubles from the Proper Perspective WEEK 41

Day 281: On the Hardships Writing Your Life Story Day 282: On Analysis Paralysis

Day 283: On Being Hungry

Day 284: On Habits as Handcuffs

Day 285: On Small Efforts at Self-Control

Day 286: On Avoiding Problems

Day 287: On Reducing Procrastination That Comes From Overwhelm WEEK 4 2

Day 288: On Routines and Relationships

Day 289: On Accounting for Taxes

Day 290: On Letting Go of the Old Person

Day 291: On the How Instead of the Outcome Day 292: On Mental Resilience

Day 293: On Cutting Your Losses

Day 294: On the All-or-Nothing Mentality WEEK 43

Day 295: On Wandering Aimlessly

Day 296: On Your Habitual Thoughts

Day 297: On the Best Time to Work

Day 298: On the Suffocating Mantras

Day 299: On Generalizations

Day 300: On Walking

Day 301: On the Power of Rituals


Day 302: On Listening to Your Gut

Day 303: On Buddha’s Counsel

Day 304: On the Unsexy Reality of Work Day 305: On the Addiction to Electronics Day 306: On Ignoranc e

Day 307: On Breaking Your Rules

Day 308: On Not Having Money


Day 309: On the Matters of Right and Wrong Day 310: On Having Good Private Teachers Day 311: On Setting an Example

Day 312: On Learning Without a Desire to Learn Day 313: On What You Demand From Life Day 314: On Neatness

Day 315: On the Cost of Education and Ignorance


Day 316: On Doing What You Love

Day 317: On Thinking You’re Able

Day 318: On the Inconvenience of Change

Day 319: On Learning From Refusal

Day 320: On Change as a Cold Bath

Day 321: On Being the Creator of Your Circumstances Day 322: On Subtraction


Day 323: On Prolonged Sittin g

Day 324: On Ignoring the World When You’re Down Day 325: On Being the Child of Your Own Works Day 326: On Your Deeds Determining You

Day 327: On the Biggest Person Standing in Your Way Day 328: On Anger

Day 329: On a Change in Beliefs


Day 330: On Turning Back Right at the Very End

Day 331: On Finding an Easier Way

Day 332: On a Lack of Variety

Day 333: On Happiness as a Duty

Day 334: On Self-Criticism

Day 335: On Wishing

Day 336: On Remembering That Your Time Is Limited WEEK 49

Day 337: On a Coin Flip

Day 338: On “I Don’t” vs. “I Can’t”

Day 339: On Appreciating Your Body

Day 340: On Better Learnin g

Day 341: On When Not to Make Important Decisions Day 342: On Doing the Best You Can With What You Have Day 343: On Turning Intentions into Actions WEEK 50

Day 344: On the Desire for Safety

Day 345: On Injecting Adventure in Your Routines Day 346: On Surpassing Yourself

Day 347: On Enduring Your Tyrants

Day 348: On Using Your Strength

Day 349: On Managing Energy

Day 350: On Doing Things Deliberately


Day 351: On Admitting You’re Struggling

Day 352: On the Empowerment in Trade-Offs

Day 353: On Glancing at Your Smartphone

Day 354: On Focusing on the Good Things

Day 355: On Luxuries

Day 356: On Taking the Initiative

Day 357: On the Rare Indulgenc e


Day 358: On Acting Differently From Others

Day 359: On Treats vs. Rewards

Day 360: On Self-Myofascial Release

Day 361: On Smiling

Day 362: On Professionalism

Day 363: On Relying Upon Yourself

Day 364: On Books, Part Two

Day 365: On Sweeping the Floor Epilogue Download Another Book for Free

Could You Help? About Martin Meadows


Ouzouk woke up with the first rays of sunlight hitting his face. He scanned the interior of his dusty hut, constructed with twigs, mud and dry grass. He scratched his back, which, as always, had been bitten by insects over and over again throughout the night. Grateful that the night had passed without any danger to his family, he crawled out, careful not to make any sounds.

It was a crisp and clear morning. He would have loved to take his family for a walk around the waterfall and play with his little son, but there was work to do. It had been five days since the tribe ate something more substantial than a fistful of berries. Unfazed by the bloodthirsty mosquitoes buzzing by, Ouzouk walked over to the fire pit and warmed his calloused hands. The light scent of wood smoke filled his nostrils. He rubbed his hands together, still feeling the painful absence of his index finger lost during that fateful hunt many moons ago.

One by one, his fellow tribesmen crawled out of their huts and joined him at the fire. There was Dhizgab, his friend who was bitten by a snake and was left partly paralyzed on his left side. Gnokk limped along next, with his broken foot badly healed, and a part of his skull partly caved in after a stone thrown by an enemy tribesman hit him smack dab in the middle of his forehead. Rekknodd sauntered into the group next. So far, he was the luckiest of the band, with only a deep scar on his cheek, left from an attack by a tiger that had massacred a half of the tribe. Other men—some missing limbs, some having lost their entire families, some with even more horrible memories—joined the group.

When the men were ready, they separated into two groups and ventured out to secure food for the tribe. They made it back to the camp in the early afternoon, forced to make a hasty retreat after spotting a leopard resting in the thick bushes. Yet again, they had failed to obtain food, but at least they were grateful that (unlike two moons ago) this time nobody had been hurt.

With empty stomachs, the adults gathered around the fire pit while small children, supervised by teenagers armed with spears and bows, played by the creek a short distance from the camp.

They reluctantly decided that the area could no longer support them. While clean water was plentiful and predators rare, food was becoming increasingly scarce and successful hunts were few and far between.

The next day they would gather their belongings, put them on their backs,

and walk for a long time until they would find another suitable place for a new temporary dwelling. Some would die along the way, some would get hurt, but such was life, Ouzouk thought to himself. A human being couldn’t ever stop struggling and fighting to survive each day.

I can hear you thinking, “What a weird prologue to a book about self- discipline!” Bear with me, please...

Our basic human nature hasn’t changed since the days of Ouzouk. While the vast majority of humans fortunately no longer have to live in constant discomfort and fear of death, we would still do well to possess even a fraction of mental toughness and self-discipline our ancestors had. In the modern world, it’s easy to live without even a modicum of self-discipline.

Back then, nobody could avoid discomfort. It was a fact of life that one couldn’t thrive unless they ventured into the world, facing unknown risks and possible death in a quest for a better life.

Today, most people are unable to wake up early without an alarm clock, and even then, it takes them thirty minutes just to crawl out of bed. Most would find it impossible to sleep on the bare floor, with insects crawling over them and biting their bodies the entire night. If they experienced just a slight ache, most would skip work and complain about how much pain they were in. Most wouldn’t be able to fast for an entire day, let alone go without food for five days in a row.

Compared to our ancestors, we have it easy .

Yet, or perhaps because of it, so many people struggle with self-discipline today. A great majority of them do nothing to fix that, and the ones who try are often met with ridicule. If you belong to the group that is trying to better themselves or wanting to do so, the book you’re now reading is for you.

I wrote 365 Days With Self-Discipline with the intention of creating a daily companion to help you embrace self-discipline in your everyday life.

As the author of several bestselling books about self-discipline and being a personal growth junkie myself, self-control is a topic close to my heart. I believe that if a person wants to reach their full potential, he or she can’t avoid discomfort. Doing things that might not be entirely pleasant is key to achieving long-term objectives.

In the following pages, I’ll share with you one thought for each day of a year that is devoted to the topic of self-discipline, mental toughness, success, or self-improvement in general. The thoughts come from some of the world’s brightest minds: successful entrepreneurs, athletes, bestselling authors, researchers, performers, bloggers, and more.

Since the entries are brief and get straight to the heart of the matter, you’ ll be able to quickly find ongoing inspiration to continue working on your most important long-term goals and on becoming an ever better person.

Due to the large number of days in a year, some themes will inevitably repeat, but I strove to address each subtopic from different perspectives. Please note that I have quoted various people from numerous sources, including books, articles, blogs, speeches, interviews, and more. By citing their words, I don’t necessarily endorse their works or their persona.

(A note on quotes in the physical and ebook version of the book whenever I could, I cited the source and included an endnote. Unfortunately, the exact source of a small number of quotes, particularly those by historic figures, was elusive to me. Whenever I couldn’t find the author as is often the case with many inspirational quotes circulating around the Internet instead of risking misattribution I wrote “Unknown.” )

Let’s turn the page and start with Day 1 and the most important thought that defines the difference between a self-disciplined person and a weak-willed one.

WEEK 1 Day 1: On Living the Hard Way

Life’s easy when you live it the hard way... and hard if you try to live it the easy way.

—Dave Kekich 4

Self-discipline means living your life the hard way: resisting temptations and instant gratification, in order to receive bigger and better rewards in the future. It’s certainly easier to avoid all kinds of discomfort and indulge yourself whenever you want, but in the end, all that you get from that approach is fleeting pleasure now at the expense of your future, which otherwise could have been much better.

Consider a weak-willed person who, when faced with a challenge, immediately opts out. How likely is this person to achieve anything substantial in life if their primary value is to feel comfortable? How is this person going to manage a crisis that they must face? Even a relatively insignificant problem can become an insurmountable obstacle for a person who’s been living a sheltered life and always avoided what’s difficult or disagreeable.

Now contrast that with a person who voluntarily makes his or her life harder. They seek out and welcome challenges as opportunities to grow. Each self-imposed affliction strengthens them, so that fewer and fewer difficulties in life overwhelm them. Day by day, they immunize themselves against problems, precisely because they seek them out. When life deals them an unexpected blow, they’re ready to handle it because thanks to living their lives the hard way they’re always ready for hardships.

Day 2: On Your Choice s

Your choices are made in a moment, but their consequences will transcend a lifetime.

—MJ DeMarco :

Eat this greasy, high-calorie hamburger or prepare a healthy salad? Sleep in and barely get to work on time or wake up at 5 a.m. to work on your side business before going to work at your day job? Stop trying the moment you get rejected or swallow your pride and keep going, despite hearing “no” dozens of times?

It takes only a moment to make the wrong choice and jeopardize your future. What feels like an insignificant decision today can have a great, lasting impact on your future.

Each choice sets a precedent and when you make the same wrong choice several times in a row, it becomes your standard modus operandi .

While one hamburger every now and then isn’t likely to ruin your overall efforts to lose weight, underestimating the impact of repeatedly making the wrong choice can profoundly affect you over the course of the rest of your life.

Each time you’re faced with a decision between exerting self-discipline and taking it easy, remind yourself that the choice you’re making today doesn’t affect the present moment alone. A momentary decision can (and often will) reverberate for many years or even decades into the future.

Day 3: On Being a Human

Willpower is what separates us from the animals. It’s the capacity to restrain our impulses, resist temptation do what’s right and good for us in the long run, not what we want to do right now. It’s central, in fact, to civilization.

Roy Baumeister 3

Humans have the capacity to act against their urges in exchange for a better future. Unfortunately, many people live by the principle of “if it feels good, do it, and if it doesn’t, don’t do it.”

Caving in to your temptations whenever you feel them emerge is like relinquishing your humanity, in a way. As an intelligent human being, you have an ability and I daresay an obligation to make decisions that are based on rational thinking, not on your instincts alone.

Strive to be a better human and embrace your humanity by exercising your “willpower muscle,” instead of succumbing to your most primal (and least helpful for your long-term goals) part of the brain. Your most primal instincts may provide temporary comfort, but seldom are good for the long term, except when there is a direct threat to your survival.

Day 4: On Creating System s

I value self-discipline, but creating systems that make it next to impossible to misbehave is more reliable than self-control.

—Tim Ferriss 4

A lot of people think that being self-disciplined means that you can sit in front of a delicious piece of cake and stare at it for hours without eating it. They think of resisting temptations as being like a knight defending his kingdom against the invader.

If you go to seedy bars every week, your chances of getting punched in the face are higher than those of a person spending their evenings at home with a book. Likewise, the best way to protect yourself against temptations is to avoid them and for that, plain old preparation is more valuable than self-control.

Your chances of cheating on a diet are higher if you have forbidden foods at home. Removing them from your house a simple act that requires little willpower, as long as you’re satiated while doing so will protect you when you get hungry and the urge to gorge on them hits you like a ton of bricks.

Your chances of sleeping in are lower if you set three different alarms and place them away from your bed.

You’ll be less likely to waste time at work when you block the most distracting websites instead of relying on your willpower to stop you before loading those funny cat pictures.

Prepare yourself for difficult situations by putting up roadblocks ahead of time, when your resolve isn’t being tested. Your self- control system will do some of the heavy lifting for you, leaving your reserves of self-discipline to be used for the unplanned situations, when they arise.

Day 5: On Enslavement to Sel f

Before complaining that you are a slave to another, be sure that you are not a slave to self. Look within; you will find there, perchance, slavish thoughts, slavish desires, and in your daily life and conduct slavish habits. Conquer these; cease to be a slave to self, and no man will have the power to enslave you.

James Allen a

It’s easy to delegate the responsibility for our lives and choices to other people.

It’s not your fault that you can’t stick to a diet it’s because your friends constantly tempt you to grab something to eat with them.

It’s not your fault that you can’t control your finances it’s those evil corporations that spend millions on advertising and leave you powerless to change.

It’s not that you lack willpower to exercise people always want something from you and you never have the time to develop this healthy habit.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. While external circumstances can affect you, in the end, whether or not they control your life depends on you. Just like James Allen said, when you achieve self-mastery, no one (and no thing) will have the power to enslave you.

The next time you blame an external factor for your lack of self-discipline, think again. Was it the person eating chocolate next to you who controlled what you put in your mouth, or was it you?

Day 6: On Superhumans

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

—Steve Jobs E

Despite an enormous selection of movies about superhumans, they don’t really exist. I know, it’s shocking news, right?

Nobody including the world’s biggest geniuses was, is, or ever will be a superhuman, infinitely better in all aspects than the average mortal.

It’s easy to forget this fact when you look at the accomplishments of the people who are changing the world around you. After all, they appear to be so perfect extremely productive, intelligent, beautiful, creative, persistent, strong... and the list goes on.

Behind the scenes, everyone struggles in some areas of their lives.

Pm an author of several books about self-discipline, but it doesn’t mean that I never struggle with self-control. I deal with the same problems as every other person, and the only difference is that I’ve discovered how to handle some of them a bit more effectively. I’ve had my fair share of failures, found myself unable to resist some temptations, and I jeopardized some long-term goals because I succumbed to the allure of instant gratification .

This is the human condition. People whom you consider to be extremely successful aren’t that different from you. Many of them in the past had less willpower than you exhibit now, and many of them might be more disciplined than you in one aspect, but less disciplined in another.

Becoming a self-disciplined person is within everybody’s grasp. You don’t need to have won the genetic lottery or get introduced to a country club to develop self-control and neither you nor anybody else will ever achieve permanent, flawless self-mastery over every aspect of life. Accept that and accept yourself, as well.

Day 7: On Poverty and Self-Discipline

A second line of research has shown that economic stress robs us of cognitive bandwidth. Worrying about bills, food or other problems, leaves less capacity to think ahead or to exert self-discipline. So, poverty imposes a mental tax.

Nicholas Kristof 2

Financial stress (or for that matter, all kinds of stress) diminishes your ability to delay gratification. Consequently, poor people find it harder to resist temptations. In the end, they get stuck in a vicious cycle they can’t escape poverty because it imposes constant mental stress on them, which then leads them to making bad decisions not only the financial ones, but also those relating to their health, relationships, and general future.

Does it mean that if you’re struggling financially, you’re destined to have a bad life? Not necessarily. Taking personal responsibility and becoming conscious of the source of the problem can help you push ahead and overcome your circumstances.

Launching one of my businesses put me in debt. It exerted immense daily stress on me. No matter what I was doing, there was always the thought in the back of my head that I had a debt to repay. In some months, I was so close to not meeting my obligations on time that I would have been forced to close up shop if it weren’t for some money I managed to make at the last minute .

This experience has made me realize that no matter what they say about money not bringing happiness, at least several months’ worth of income kept as savings in the bank means the difference between a relatively stress-free life and the soul-crushing fear when you can’t cover an urgent, important expense.

If you’re struggling with finances, make it one of your priorities to get out of debt as quickly as you can and build an emergency fund covering at least three to six months of basic living expenses. In addition to improving your financial health, it will dramatically reduce stress and strengthen your ability to delay gratification and make more optimal choices favoring your future.


Day 8: On Unessential Necessities

Epicurus wanted to examine the things he thought he needed so he could determine which of them he could in fact live without. He realized that in many cases, we work hard to obtain something because we are convinced that we would be miserable without it. The problem is that we can live perfectly well without some of these things, but we won’t know which they are if we don’t try living without them.

—-William B. Irvine g

Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus would have his hands full in modern times if he wanted to spread his philosophy. We live in the world in which you feel you deserve to have luxuries. In fact, they’re no longer considered luxuries but necessities because most people mistakenly think they can’t live without them.

The problem with mistaking luxuries for necessities is that it’s impossible to develop powerful self-discipline if you need a lot just to function.

How is a person who believes that they need to eat empty calories in the form of burgers, pizzas, or white bread supposed to lose weight? How likely is that an individual who thinks that it’s necessary to lease a new car every two years will exert enough self-discipline to save money and “deprive” himself or herself of what they consider a basic human need?

Periodically try living without something that you consider a necessity. Yov’ll benefit in several ways .

First, you’ll voluntarily put yourself in an uncomfortable situation that will help you expand your comfort zone and develop your mental resilience.

Second, you’ll discover whether you really need this thing in your life and if you find you don’t, it will provide food for thought as to how many other things in your life are in fact not as important as you thought they were. This can then help you eliminate the unessential from your life and free up additional resources to focus on what’s important.

Finally, you will increase your ability to feel happy with less including being happy in a situation when you’re deprived of something involuntarily.

Day 9: On Your Future Self

In four studies, participants interacted with realistic computer renderings of their future selves using immersive virtual reality hardware and interactive decision aids. In all cases, those who interacted with virtual future selves exhibited an increased tendency to accept later monetary rewards over immediate ones.

—Hal E. Hershfield =

Studies suggest that people who are aided with technology to imagine their future selves are more likely to delay gratification. In the case of the cited study, they’re more likely to save money for retirement.

This shows that your self-discipline is largely affected by your ability to feel empathy toward your future self. If the vision of you ten, twenty, or thirty years from now isn’t particularly vivid, you’ll have a hard time denying yourself pleasure today so that the stranger in the future can benefit.

For this reason, consider occasionally meditating on your future self. Ask yourself if today you’re grateful for the choices you made several years ago, or if you wish that in the past you had been more concerned about your future. Are the choices you’re making today choices that are only benefiting the present “you,” but don’t contribute to or worse, jeopardize your well-being in the future?

The person you’ll become in ten years will most likely not be the same person you are today, but it will still be you and it’s in your hands whether, ten years from now you’ll look back and feel glad you extended self-empathy well into the future, or find that you decided to be selfish and steal from your future for some fleeting pleasure today.

Day 10: On Building Your Story

Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe.

—Stephen King =

Writing a novel is a daunting task if you’ve never written one before. It’s hard to write even a single paragraph, let alone write two or three hundred pages that will capture the attention of the reader and keep them reading until the last page. What’s worse, after all this effort, you’ll probably realize that your novel, when compared to a widely-acclaimed bestselling novel, is only good for kindling.

What you fail to see is that the author of that bestselling novel most likely has spent a decade or more mastering their craft. They started with words, which then became sentences, paragraphs, and eventually stories. Their first attempts like those of everybody else were unsuccessful. It took them hundreds of thousands of words’ worth of practice to finally write a masterpiece.

Building self-discipline is similar to writing a novel. You might consider a disciplined person who always wakes up at four in the morning, is physically active every day, eats a healthy diet, is super productive, and is capable of balancing it all with their social life and family obligations as a superhuman. But in reality, this person, like the bestselling novelist, probably started with one simple change and kept building on top of it.

Whenever you get discouraged, or feel tired by how far you still have to go to accomplish your goals, remind yourself that everybody who has built self-