25 Top Best Books on Discipline For Self-Control

The best books on discipline inspire you to not only motivate yourself to reach your goals but to reset your habits to live out your purpose.

If you find it difficult to stick to your intentions and reach your personal goals, you’ve come to the right corner of the internet today.

In this post we’ll be talking about discipline, specifically self discipline. Merriam-Webster defines this term as a noun meaning correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.

If you’re looking to learn how to be more disciplined to reach your goals, change your habits, and improve your life – you’ve come to the right place. This post covers the best books on discipline to add to your reading list. Let’s get started!

best books on discipline

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, GenTwenty may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting this resource.

25 Best Books On Discipline To Read This Year

Truly, there is something here for everyone. Whether you need help creating habits, having willpower, or changing your mindset, it’s on this list!

These books are highly rated for their methods and teachings. There is something for us all to learn about discipline from these books.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

In Atomic Habits you’ll learn how to create a habit-building system that will help you finally stick to those habits you’ve been trying to create. It’s a New York Times Bestseller, and for good reason, this book is truly powerful.

If you’re looking for a basic introduction to habits, why we do what we do, and how to begin to improve your life at a foundational level – this book is the perfect start.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits–to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life by Gretchen Rubin 

Another bestseller, Better Than Before has helped countless people create new habits and change their lives.

In this book she helps the reader not only understand habits, but also provides a framework to help them create habits successfully. 

This book is one of our Editor-in-Chief’s top favorite books of all time. The framework Gretchen Rubin discusses in this book is life-changing.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

No Excuses: The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy

“No Excuses: The Power of Self-Discipline” is a self-help book written by Brian Tracy, a renowned author and motivational speaker. The book focuses on the importance of self-discipline in achieving personal and professional success.

In “No Excuses,” Tracy emphasizes that self-discipline is a fundamental trait that separates high achievers from those who struggle to reach their goals. He argues that self-discipline is not a talent or a skill that some people are born with, but rather a learned behavior that can be developed and strengthened over time.

The book offers practical strategies and techniques to cultivate self-discipline in various areas of life, including goal setting, time management, decision-making, and overcoming procrastination. Tracy provides actionable advice and exercises that readers can implement to improve their discipline and increase their productivity.

Throughout the book, Tracy addresses common excuses and self-limiting beliefs that hinder personal progress and offers strategies to overcome them. He emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions, developing positive habits, and maintaining a positive mindset.

“No Excuses” is a motivational and practical guide that aims to inspire readers to take control of their lives, set clear goals, and develop the self-discipline necessary to achieve them. Tracy’s insights and principles can be applied to various areas, including career, relationships, health, and personal development.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Amazon calls The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People “The number one Most Influential Business Book of the 20th century.” People have been following the advice written in this great book for three decades.

The 30th anniversary edition includes more modern comments/takeaways from Stephen’s son, Sean Covey.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

The Little Book of Big Change: The No-Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit by Amy Johnson

“The Little Book of Big Change: The No-Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit” is a self-help book written by Amy Johnson, a psychologist and coach specializing in the understanding of habits and behavior change. The book offers a fresh perspective on breaking habits by challenging the common belief that willpower and forceful control are necessary for successful habit change.

In this book, Johnson introduces the idea that habits are created and sustained by the mind’s interpretation of our experiences rather than external triggers or circumstances. She argues that the key to breaking habits lies in understanding the nature of thought and developing a new relationship with our thinking.

Johnson presents a no-willpower approach to habit change, focusing on the power of awareness and mindfulness. She encourages readers to observe their thoughts, emotions, and urges without judgment or resistance, allowing them to naturally arise and pass away. By recognizing the transient nature of thoughts and not giving them undue attention, readers can diminish the influence of habitual patterns.

The book provides practical techniques and exercises to help readers gain insight into their own thinking and break free from unwanted habits. Johnson guides readers through a process of self-reflection, helping them uncover the underlying beliefs and thought patterns that drive their habits. She offers strategies to shift perspective and create new narratives that support desired changes.

“The Little Book of Big Change” challenges the conventional idea that breaking habits requires immense willpower and struggle. Instead, it offers a compassionate and empowering approach that focuses on understanding the mind and embracing change from a place of self-acceptance and curiosity.

The book is suitable for individuals struggling with various habits, such as overeating, smoking, procrastination, and negative thought patterns. It provides insights and techniques that can be applied to any habit, offering readers a new perspective on creating lasting change in their lives.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins

The 5 Second Rule holds a special place in my heart. The tool I learned from this book has helped me in the most important way, and has continued to help me when I need it.

Mel Robbins shares her technique of counting backwards from five to one, then taking action. In addition she shares her story and how she came up with it, how it’s helped others, and the science behind it.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

Mindset is written by psychologist Carol S. Dweck, who also introduced the term growth mindset. In this book she discusses the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

Knowing the difference, and practicing having a growth mindset, will help you achieve your goals. 

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

In Discipline Equals Freedom, author Jocko Willink uses what he learned during his time on SEAL teams to present a book that talks about achieving your goals.

He shares that there is much more to reaching your goals than many think. What most people miss is the discipline it takes. In this book Willink discusses it all, plus more. 

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

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

The Willpower Instinct is based off of a course called The Science of Willpower, taught by the author of this book. You’ll read all about what willpower is, how it works, and more.

The more willpower you have, the better your discipline will be, so this is a great book to read. 

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

In the book The Compound Effect you’ll learn about the core principles that drive success. Topics this book addresses include habits, discipline, momentum, and more.

If you’re ready to start achieving what you set out to do, you’ll want to add this book to your to-be-read list.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The War of Art has been helping people breakthrough their creative blocks since 2002. The advice given in this book is still relevant today as well.

In War of Art you’ll learn how to break through barriers, move past your fear, and more. Then you’ll get a plan to help you reach your goals. While it’s originally meant for writers, anyone can benefit from what’s in these pages.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Neil Fiore

Author Neil Fiore teaches us how to beat procrastination and rescue stress in The Now Habit.

Using the techniques taught in this book you’ll start achieving your to-do list faster, reach your goals, and have time for some guilt-free play.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H Pink

Do you know what motivates you? Odds are there is an even better way to get and stay motivated. That is what is discussed in the book Drive by Daniel Pink.

He reveals that what motivates humans isn’t exactly what we think. Then you’ll learn the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose. This bestseller has changed a multitude of lives, will it change yours?

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe The World by Admiral William H. McRaven

Did you know that something as simple as making your bed has the power to change your day?

In the book Make Your Bed author and Admiral William H. McRaven discusses how that small task, as well as others can change the trajectory of your life. This book was based on a graduation speech that McRaven gave on May 17, 2014.

Get it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life Master Any Skill or Challenge by Learning to Love the Process by Thomas M. Sterner

In The Practicing Mind you’ll find a new perspective in the journey to learning a new skill or overcoming a challenge. The truth is that practicing can be just as important as the outcome itself. Author Thomas M. Sterner talks about this, and more, in his book.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

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

What do you get when you combine one of the world’s influential psychologists with a New York Times science writer? This great book about willpower is the answer.

If you want to understand, and be able to better control, your self-control, this book is for you. You’ll read practical wisdom from the experts and the latest in scientific research when you pick up Willpower.

Get it on Amazon

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

The Power of Habit was written by business reporter Charles Duhigg. You’ll get insight from businesses, NFL teams, and more as you discover how powerful habits are. By knowing this you can change any and all aspects of your life.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control by Walter Mischel

Last year, or maybe it was the year before, there was a trend that went around on social media. In this trend parents would present their child with a snack and an ultimatum. They could take the snack now, or they can leave it alone and get two snacks when the parent comes back into the room. 

This trend wasn’t a new exercise, it actually came from what is known as The Marshmallow Test. In the book with the same name author Walter Mischel discusses how self-control can be mastered to improve your life.

Get it on Amazon

The Power of Discipline: How to Use Self Control and Mental Toughness to Achieve Your Goals by Daniel Walter

In The Power of Discipline author Daniel Walter tells us that the foundation of success is a self-discipline practice. Oftentimes the reason why we don’t achieve our goals is because we haven’t developed self-discipline. This book will help with that.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

The 7 Pillars of Habit Building and Self-Discipline: 67 Habits to Develop Focus, Sharpen Concentration, and Beat Laziness. Be More Successful by Mastering the Art of Self-Control by Neil Cooper

If you’re not sure what habits you should be forming to reach your goal, this book is for you.

In The 7 Pillars of Habit Building and Self-Discipline you’ll learn the 67 habits that will make bad habits and lack of self-discipline a thing of the past. You’ll also learn how your physical and social wellness affects your habits as well.

Get it on Amazon

The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness by Jeff Olson and John David Mann

This book is all about the daily decisions that lead us to success. The Slight Edge will show you what you can do with the tools that are already available and within you. This is the 8th edition of the book, but it is still incredibly relevant for today.

Get it on Amazon

Discipline Is Destiny: The Power of Self-Control by Ryan Holiday

In Discipline Is Destiny author Ryan Holiday draws upon historical figures to show what the power of self-discipline can do. You’ll read about Queen Elizabeth II, Toni Morrison, Napoleon, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Babe Ruth, and more.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

Finish What You Start: The Art of Following Through, Taking Action, Executing & Self-Discipline by Peter Hollins

If following through on your goals is something you struggle with, you’ll want to read Finish What You Start. In this book you’ll learn about the psychology and science of accomplishment and productivity.

You’ll be able to directly apply what you read through the step-by-step solutions offered in this great book.

Get it on Amazon

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

In Deep Work you’ll find a mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice.The book is divided into two parts. The first one discusses how deep work can benefit anyone in any career.

Then in the last section you’ll learn the four “rules,” for transforming your mind. By the end of the book you’ll see the benefits that deep, focused work can bring, and how to achieve this state of focus.

Get it on Amazon

Self-Discipline in 10 Days: How To Go From Thinking to Doing by Theodore Bryant

For the last book on this list of best books on discipline, you’ll find an extremely practical and applicable book.In Self-Discipline in 10 Days you’ll learn how to go from dreaming about success to actually making it happen.

Your mindset has a lot to do with it. When buying this book, be ready to take action.

Get it on Amazon


Why You Need Discipline

Time and time again I’ve tried reinventing myself and restarting good habits in an effort to become my best self. Despite my best intentions I fall short every time. Can you relate to this? 

I’ve realized much of my mistakes have come from not being disciplined when it comes to implementing changes in my life. That is why discipline is so important. It’s the key to success in any positive changes that you want to make.

What Can Help You Be More Disciplined In Your Life

Before we get to the best books about discipline, I thought I’d share some practical tips. There are a couple of ways to help self-discipline come more naturally to you. You’ll see some of these will become recurring themes in the personal development books I’ll be sharing later. 

The important thing is to remember that you are a work in progress. You don’t have to use all of these strategies to become more disciplined in your everyday life. You also aren’t expected to be perfect the first time you try to better yourself. As long as you are taking steps forward to become a more disciplined person, you’re doing a great job.

Routine

Creating a routine is a great way to stay disciplined as you are embracing new, positive changes. Think of a routine as a string of habits that you do everyday. Eventually it gets to be like autopilot for you. Once that happens it’s a lot easier to stay disciplined. 

A great example of this is a morning routine. Think of what you already do every morning. Eat breakfast, brush your teeth, get dressed, etc.. See, you already have experience with routines. To become our best selves, let’s add one more positive habit in this routine, reading a great book. Did you know that many of the most successful people in the country read daily? That’s some great company to keep. 

Practicing this new habit is where discipline comes in. Do it often enough and it will become just another part of your routine. Then you can focus on more good habits.

Accountability

Accountability is essential when it comes to building up your discipline. Having someone you report to, or however you want to describe it, is like having a personal cheerleader. They cheer you on when you are putting in the hard work and staying disciplined. However, they’re also there to call you out when you start slipping into bad habits or not working on your current goals.

Whether you have accountability through a person, an app, or even yourself, make sure it’s a system that works best for you. Although I suggest having a person be your accountability because we could all use a little social support when creating new habits and routines.

Reading/Learning About Discipline

If you’re in need of more practical advice, books are always a great place to turn. In the list that is coming your way you’ll find authors that are some of the best in the personal development space, psychologists, and there is even a preacher and an admiral. They’ll share real-life examples, personal experiences, practical strategies, cutting-edge insights, and more. 

The Best Way To Read These Books

I love self-help books because there are so many little things that I take away from reading them, as well as applicable tips I can’t wait to implement in my life. That being said, it can be easy to forget what you read if you don’t take a minute to sit with it. Here are a few ways that help me have better results when trying to remember what I read.

Take Notes/Annotate

This is a great way to stay engaged while you are reading in real time. I usually highlight favorite quotes or write down tips that I want to remember. There are many different ways to annotate what you read.

Buddy Read

I just learned how fun this was this year when I joined a friend’s Discord server. Although I’ve never done a buddy read with a personal development book, I will say it’s helped me remember the books I have read more.They’ve also landed on my favorite books list. Grab a friend who’s also ready to get more disciplined and make a plan to read together.

Suggest For Book Club/Start A Book Club

If you’re currently in a book club, suggest one of these books as your next book. If you’re not in a book club, start your own. Being able to discuss your viewpoint and what you learned from a great read with a group is a great time. You may even notice things in the book that you missed or gain a new viewpoint. It’s great to learn from others.

Explore More

Many self help authors will create extra resources to go along with the book. The best way they do this is by mentioning them in the introduction or by having an Appendix. Sometimes the extra resources will be directly in the book and sometimes it will be a website or social media group. If you see any of these, take advantage of the extra learning. It can only help you on your journey to becoming more disciplined.

It’s time to get reading. What’s the first book you’ll be picking up? Let me know in the comments.

About the Author

Kelly Clark

Kelly graduated from Liberty University with a degree in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Journalism. Even though it took her a little while to find her career path, she was always meant to be in Communications. She remembers writing poems and songs when she was a little girl and pitching to my parents the reasons why I should have a cell phone when I was a teenager. She currently has a blog (budding-joy.com) where she talks about her weight-loss journey, mental health and personal development. Her hope is to encourage and inspire readers and let them know they are not alone. Reading blog posts like that are what helped her in tough times and she wants to pay it forward. She loves dance fitness, listening to music, and creating layouts in her bullet journal. She’s a big fan of planning, especially when cute notebooks and pens are involved.
Her dream job has changed so much over the years; right now she’d love to co-own a dance studio.

Website: budding-joy.com