How to Become Disciplined Like a Soldier

Soldiers are trained to be hard-working, courageous, and adapt quickly to new situations through discipline. During grueling training, they’re given essential skills to help them survive and succeed in harsh circumstances. Now, what if you could apply that same level of discipline to your own life? There are ways that you can become disciplined in the same way a soldier is. It’s not easy as this kind of discipline takes a lot of hard work and determination. But, we’ve outlined 10 of the most important steps to get you started. 

Keep to a Schedule

Typically, soldiers have a strict daily routine. It consists of an early morning wake-up call followed by physical training, breakfast, work, lunch, more work, and finally, some free time before lights out. Keeping the day regimented helps them maintain good habits and minimize any wasted time. While what you’ll be doing from day to day probably won’t be the same as those in the military, there’s no reason you can’t apply a similar level of planning. Having time parameters for each of your tasks is a great way to keep yourself motivated and efficient. Divide your day into increments and schedule everything you want to accomplish into that timetable. 

If you are someone that struggles to keep a daily routine, using a daily journal like the Mastery Journal will help build a routine and create consistency in your effort and goals.

Wake Up Bright and Early

One of the critical aspects of the soldier schedule is a consistent wake-up time. Each morning soldiers are expected to wake up at 5 am to begin their morning routine. This gets a jumpstart on the day and helps to stick to an overall schedule. If you’re looking to apply more discipline to your own life, when you wake up is an excellent place to start. Waking up early can be a challenge for a lot of us. However, there are many benefits to starting your day off early.

  • More time: One great reason to get yourself out of bed is to give you more time for a productive day. You can start off with a healthy breakfast instead of skipping it or grabbing something unhealthy in a rush. Plus, if you’re up before others, you’ll have time to give tasks your full-attention without distraction. 
  • Daily exercise: You’ll have time for a morning workout. Morning exercise helps you stay focused and active throughout the rest of your day. This is especially great if you usually put off exercising. Instead of pushing it to the end of the day or skipping it altogether, you can have a healthy workout first thing. 
  • Improves sleep: If you keep to a consistent sleep schedule, your body will naturally adjust to it. You’ll find yourself more tired around the time you go to bed, so it’s easier to sleep, and you wake up more refreshed.
Waking up early is routine for soldiers (Source).

Set Your Own Goals

It’s one thing to say you want to be disciplined, and it’s another to implement that in your life long-term. To make any lasting change, you need a reason for what you’re doing. In the military, soldiers have a common goal for what they’re doing. Ultimately, all the training, work, and determination goes towards defending their country. Civilians might not have as clear of a mission, but it’s essential to find a reason for what you are doing. 

You need to spend some time thinking about what you want to accomplish and why. Discipline is a great trait to have, but it’s also a tool for achieving larger goals. Discipline can help you become a better leader, businessperson, parent, and more. You just have to determine what drives you. Figure out what your ultimate goal is, and use that perspective to push you through the steps you need to take every day to reach it. 

Consistent Exercise

Exercise is a great way to get your mind and body operating at peak condition. You don’t have to be doing any extreme workout routines or trying to become the world’s next top bodybuilder. A simple and consistent exercise routine increases your overall health, puts you in a good emotional state, and increases your life expectancy.

You don’t have to be doing any extreme workout routines but have a regular training schedule (Source).

Prepare for Changes in Your Routine

This might seem like it’s contradicting the earlier points, but soldiers are always training for unexpected and dangerous situations in the military. While it’s good to have your schedule, it’s also important to push yourself to adapt to new environments and challenges. You can do this in various ways, like starting a new type of workout, taking a class, going on wilderness adventures, or something as simple as pushing yourself into new social situations. Going outside your comfort zone will strengthen your ability to adapt quickly and help you stay cool and confident even in unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations. 

Critical Thinking

Discipline requires making consistent beneficial decisions over a long period. To stick to your goals, you need to have the mental agility to assess a situation’s outcomes. Using critical thinking, you can look at all the alternatives and pick the most beneficial action. Critical thinking is crucial in a military situation when making the right decision could mean the difference between life and death. However, you can apply it in smaller ways to your own life. Keeping your overall goals in mind, analyze each opportunity that comes your way. Then ask the question, “will this put me closer to or further away from where I want to be?”. This type of thinking will help you cut back on distractions and focus on the most important tasks.

Using critical thinking, you can look at all the alternatives and pick the most beneficial action (Source).

Remain Calm Under Pressure

Soldiers are trained to stay calm even in the most hazardous circumstances. You can follow a few steps to apply this same discipline so that stress never gets the better of you.

  • Just breathe. Taking controlled and deep breaths sends signals to your brain that it’s time to relax. This, in turn, relaxes your body and puts you in a calmer, more focused state. 
  • Manage your reaction. It’s rarely helpful to yell or react in an extreme way to a situation. If a problem is agitating you to the point you might overreact, step away from the situation if you can. Removing yourself physically can help you relax and reassess the problem, your role in it, and possible solutions. 
  • Look at challenges as a way to grow. It might sound cheesy, but just changing the way you think about a situation can make a big difference in how you respond. If you see it as a way to test your problem-solving instead of seeing something as a disaster, it won’t be as daunting. 
  • Learn to take ownership of your actions. Taking ownership for your actions will relieve the stress and burden you place on yourself when you rely on others to take accountability for your mistakes. Great leaders always take ownership. I highly recommend the book Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink.

Manage Roadblocks

If you find yourself continuously tripping up on the same things, remove those temptations from your environment. For example, if you’re trying to get work done at home in the morning, but keep going back to bed, try working outside the house where that’s not an option. Studies have found that removing a temptation is far more effective than willing yourself to resist it.

Always overcome the obstacles (Source).

Be Accountable

A mark of a good soldier is taking responsibility for your actions. When you’re the one in the wrong, admit to it and hold yourself to a higher standard in the future. It’s also important to be accountable to yourself. When you’re setting new goals and trying to be disciplined, it’s natural to fall short. There’s no need to beat yourself up about every slip-up. However, you do want to acknowledge where you didn’t reach your full-potential, plan for how you’ll overcome similar setbacks in the future, and pick up where you left off. 

Small Habits Over Time

Discipline builds slowly over time. You aren’t going to set your alarm for 5 am tomorrow and wake up ready to seize the day. There will be days of grogginess and discomfort with any new routine. Each new goal you set might be challenging at first, and it will take time before you see results. The key is making small changes, turning them into habits, and being patient. If you want more help learning how to take control of and master your habits, check out the book Atomic Habits by James Clear.


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Kevin was born and raised in Texas and loves all things tactical. His hobbies include shooting, hunting, rock climbing, and hiking with his dog Jax.

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