It is the ability to control one's impulses, emotions, desires and behavior. It is being able to turn down immediate pleasure and instant gratification in favor of gaining the long-term satisfaction and fulfillment from achieving higher and more meaningful goals.
To possess it is to be able to make the decisions, take the actions, and execute your game plan regardless of the obstacles, discomfort, or difficulties, that may come your way.
Certainly, being disciplined does not mean living a limiting or a restrictive lifestyle. Nor, does not mean giving up everything you enjoy, or, to relinquish fun and relaxation. It does mean learning how to focus your mind and energies on your goals and persevere until they are accomplished. It also means cultivating a mindset whereby you are ruled by your deliberate choices rather than by your emotions, bad habits, or the sway of others. Self-discipline allows you to reach your goals in a reasonable time frame and to live a more orderly and satisfying life.
How To Develop Self-Discipline
Start with baby steps. No process takes place overnight. Just as it takes time to build muscle, so does it take time to develop self-discipline. The more you train and build it, the stronger you become. In exercise, if you try to do too much at once, you could injure yourself and have a setback. Likewise, take it one step at a time in building self-discipline. So, begin by making the decision to go forward and learning what it takes to get there.
Learn what motivates you and what your bad triggers are. You can begin by learning about yourself! Sometimes it is very difficult to fight off urges and cravings, so know the areas where your resistance is low and how to avoid those situations. If you know you can't resist cake, fries, or other temptations - stay away from them. Do not have them around to lure you in moments of weakness. If you also know that putting pressure on yourself does not work for you, then set yourself up in an environment that encourages the building of self-discipline rather than one that sabotages it. Remove the temptations and surround yourself with soothing and encouraging items such as motivating slogans and pictures of what you want to achieve.
Learn also what energizes and motivates you. Your willpower can go up and down with your energy levels so play energetic music to perk you up, move around, laugh. Train yourself to enjoy what you are doing by being energized. This will make it easier to implement desirable and appropriate behaviors into your routine - which is really what self-discipline is all about.
Make certain behaviors a routine. Once you have decided what's important to you and which goals to strive for, establish a daily routine that will help you achieve them. For example, if you want to eat healthily or lose weight; resolve to eat several servings of fruits and vegetables each day and exercise for at least half an hour. Make it part of your daily routine and part of your self-discipline building. Likewise, get rid of some of your bad, self-defeating habits, whatever they may be. They can put you in a negative frame of mind and hinder your self-discipline. A poor attitude can also be a bad habit.