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19 Top Self-Discipline Books to Help You Accomplish Your Goals

19 Top Self-Discipline Books to Help You Accomplish Your Goals

Think back to a time when you had so much control and discipline you surprised yourself. Maybe you woke up every morning at the crack of dawn or you stuck to a fitness regime for months. Maybe you quit smoking, started cooking or put your foot down in a toxic relationship. Now, maybe you look back and go, “How did I do that? And how did I lose it?” Or, maybe you’re itching to develop a skill you’ve never had before or take risks that have always terrified you.

It’s not much of a stretch to say, “You can probably do that thing you’ve been thinking about.” Unless something huge and immovable is standing in your way, I’m guessing your dream is attainable. I always say that the hardest part of any workout is putting on your sneakers and walking out the door – everything else feels easier from there. That idea can be applied to whatever goal you want to crush but haven’t started on yet. These self-discipline books will give you the push you need.

1. The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy

self discipline books

In The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy, the publisher of SUCCESS magazine, offers a formula for creating major change in your life:

Small Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = Radical Difference

Those “small, smart choices” are your daily disciplines: wake up early, run, whatever. The idea here is that we don’t see the trees for the forest – and yes, I meant to flip that metaphor. We don’t always realize how our small, incremental, even boring or tedious actions build to the whole. To get to the top of the mountain, we have to take a lot of steps, many of them excruciating, most of them repetitive, all of them necessary.

Price: $9.99 (Kindle) | More Information

2. Eat that Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

self discipline books

Tracy’s written a lot of books, but the one that I’m most familiar with is Eat that Frog! The title comes from the Mark Twain quote, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Basically, it means that if you tackle your hardest, ugliest task first, it’ll be off your mind and the rest of your day will feel much easier.

The point of that tip, and of this book, is that there is never, ever going to be enough time to do everything. And that once you accept that, you have to move on and figure out another way. You can keep running up against the same wall, but that just seems silly. This book will help you structure your day so you cross off the most important to-dos and so you still feel accomplished even when you can’t get to less-important tasks.

Price: $14.54 (paperback) | More Information

3. No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy

self discipline books

The overarching idea of this book is that luck and talent are wonderful, but they won’t get you as far as self-discipline will. It covers different areas of life (including, but not limited to, business), with each chapter diving into a different component and explaining how you can be more disciplined. There are also exercises at the end of each chapter so you can act instead of just read.

Price: $13.33 (paperback) | More Information

4. Essential Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change, Briefly by Leo Babauta

self discipline books

Essential Zen Habits is a book that lets you get in, get out and get on with improving your life. While it’s a six-week program, the point of the program is that you start making changes early on, and then those changes build on one another until you’ve finished it. So while you may have to wait an entire six weeks to finish, you definitely don’t have to wait that long to start.

Price: $6.99 (Kindle) | More Information

5. Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

self discipline books

This is the book to read if you’re feeling like a loser for doing things that are actually very human of you. Each chapter is a lie we tell ourselves – that we’re not good enough (or that we’re better than others), that we’re not where we should be for our age, and my go-to motto, “I’ll Start Tomorrow.” With examples from her own life, Hollis talks about why we tell ourselves these things, why we shouldn’t and how to change the narrative. If your self-discipline wanes along with your confidence (and whose doesn’t?), this book can help you get back on track.

Price: $12.99 (Kindle) | More Information

6. The Master-Key to Riches by Napoleon Hill

self discipline books

What’s nice about this book is that it’s straightforward and simple, kind of like how “eat vegetables, drink water and exercise” is the tried-and-true method for being healthier. In a nutshell, Hill talks about how a good attitude, self-discipline and willpower are the keys to having money, power and success. It’s an old book, so some of the ideas and wording will be outdated, but the major points are timeless.

Price: $12.77 (paperback) | More Information

7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

self discipline books

Hill doesn’t mince words – another of his books that made it onto this list is called Think and Grow Rich, which is maybe not for the reader who thinks that money is the root of all evil. In this one, Hill talks about how you can’t achieve anything, whether that’s money or any other achievement you’re after, if you don’t take control of your thoughts.

Price: $8.28 (paperback) | More Information

8. Mastery by Robert Greene

self discipline books

This book explains that mastery is much simpler than we all thought and that it boils down to a process that anyone can…you got it…master. You have to be stubborn in your purpose in order to see it through, and this book helps you exercise your self-discipline muscle. Master whatever you want (within reason) by learning from the best – the masters of the past, like Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Proust…

Price: $14.99 (Kindle) | More Information

9. Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise

self discipline books

Removing pressure can do so much for discipline, and that’s what this book is all about. There’s a way to practice discipline with ease – it doesn’t have to be painful. This book speaks to the person who has tried to form the same habits or achieve the same goal over and over but has failed every time. Mini Habits discusses how starting with teeny, tiny habits can make a bigger impact than going all-out for massive change.

Price: $5.99 (Kindle) | More Information

10. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

self discipline books

Our habits dictate a lot – the good and the bad – and with self-discipline, those bad habits can be rejiggered into good ones. You can also create brand new habits, of course, and this book also helps with that. By understanding how we form and stick to habits, we can pick and choose the habits we want to keep and kick the others to the curb, or at least update them to start working for us.

Price: $12.99 (Kindle) | More Information

11. The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life by Thomas M. Sterner

self discipline books

This book is great if you need the self-discipline to learn something new – a new sport, instrument, language, etc. It’s also ideal for anyone who’s into mindfulness – focusing on the present, drowning out the rest. Sterner discusses loving the process so that it’s easier to get through. Check your ego at the door, develop tunnel vision and smash your goals.

Price: $9.44 (Kindle) | More Information

12. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

self discipline books

Manson teaches you how to pick and choose what you care about and where you invest your energy and time. It’s about figuring out what you can say “screw it” to so that you can focus on the things that do matter. It’s actually about giving a f*ck about the things that deserve it. And once you’ve got your priorities straight and have trimmed the fat, you can better direct your self-discipline.

Price: $12.99 (Kindle) | More Information

13. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss

self discipline books

This is a great book to approach as a daily devotional – read a chapter or two every morning as you have your coffee. It’s a thick book, and it reads like a series of lessons. There’s a mix of advice and stories from experts and anecdotes from Ferriss himself, carefully organized by topic and interlinked so you can piece together running themes. You can jump in and jump out, skip the chapters that don’t speak to you and get what you need from it when you need it.

Price: $15.88 (hardcover) | More Information

14. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

self discipline books

This book is for the creatives out there who (a) have to work and (b) don’t wanna work. You don’t have to be a moody artist or writer to understand and get value from the advice in this book, though. All jobs have some level of creativity to them. Creative thinking can – or should – play a role in practically every profession. This book is a splash of cold water, encouraging you to commit to your work, even and especially when you don’t want to, so you can reach the goals you set – or the ones you can’t even see yet.

Price: $9.99 (Kindle) | More Information

15. Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work by Steven Pressfield

self discipline books

If you like The War of Art, you’ll want to check out Pressfield’s other book, Turning Pro. This one’s about becoming a professional – not a professional in business, necessarily, but a professional in your life. It’s about leveling up to become the person you’ve always wanted to see in the mirror and saying “goodbye” to parts of current you so you can meet awesomer you. The shift will be messy and weird and scary, but it’ll also be worth it.

Price: $8.00 (paperback) | More Information

16. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal

self discipline books

If you want an education in self-discipline, give this book a try. Be warned: it’s more textbook-y than the others on this list, but it can give you an academic view of self-discipline, namely why it’s so slippery for most of us.

Price: $13.60 (paperback) | More Information

17. Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney

self discipline books

This is another academic, science-y book about the facts behind the pain of self-discipline. There’s a lot of expertise distilled into this book, plus techniques for how to refill your willpower when the tank’s empty.

Price: $13.70 (paperback) | More Information

18. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

self discipline books

There’s so much goodness packed into this book that it’s hard to express it in one paragraph, but essentially it’s about believing in your ability to make good choices. It’s about trusting yourself to do the things you want and need to do. Sincero offers a perfect mix of acceptance and tough love, and there’s just something about her approach that works.

Price: $8.91 (paperback) | More Information

19. You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero

self discipline books

I also suggest you read You Are a Badass at Making Money afterward, especially if you’re like me and don’t think that “cash” is a four-letter word. She breaks through the “money is taboo” wall to say you deserve it, you can have it and you don’t have to feel guilty about any of it.

Price: $9.99 (Kindle) | More Information

Final Thoughts

Self-discipline isn’t singular. It’s not a healthier diet or a new sport or an earlier wake-up time or keeping your mouth shut during a tense family dinner. It’s that and it’s the many ripple effects you don’t expect. And then those ripple effects become the main points, and the original goal becomes just one tiny step toward feeling and living better. You will never know what’s on the other side of your dreams and goals if you don’t apply the self-discipline to find out.

Want to get as much as possible out of these self-discipline books? Check out my article about How to Read for Personal and Professional Growth.

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