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50 Best Books on Self-Discipline and Self-Control

What does it mean to have self-discipline or self-control? The first thing you should understand is that these words are interchangeable. Whether you’re talking about willpower, motivation, or self-regulation, it’s all the same thing. The point is this: unless you can control and direct your life, you’ll never get anywhere.

Here are some of the best books to help achieve self-discipline and self-control.

Self-Discipline and Self-Control Books for Adults
Books for Young Adults
Books for Teenage Girls
Books for Teenage Boys
Books for Children

Self-Discipline and Self-Control Books for Adults

1. No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline (Brian Tracy) — 304 pages
Written by personal development legend Brian Tracy. This book outlines nine disciplines that help you develop self-control. These include things like self-denial, long-term thinking, sacrifice, and setting personal goals.

Should you buy it?
Straightforward and to the point, this is a great book for anyone who wants a basic introduction to self-control strategies.

2. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change (Charles Duhigg) — 371 pages
Charles Duhigg has a Harvard MBA and formerly wrote for the New York Times. He became interested in the topic of habits after noticing that the news seemed to run in cycles. He wanted to know why this happens and concluded that bad habits are mostly to blame.

Should you buy it?
This book is perfect for people who want a deeper insight into the psychology of discipline. You’ll learn why our brain develops habits as well as how these habits shape your behavior.

3. Mastery (Robert Greene) — 353 pages
In this book, Robert Greene asks a simple question. What made people like Leonardo Da Vinci and Charles Darwin so exceptional? The answer is hard work and the discipline needed to carry it out.

Should you buy it?
If you’re interested in reading about successful people (and learning the reason for their success), then this book is worth getting ahold of.

4. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (Steven Pressfield) — 195 pages
The audience for this book is primarily artists and writers. Many of these people struggle with the discipline needed to work on their art. Steven Pressfield reframes this lack of discipline as “resistance”, and explains how to overcome it.

Should you buy it?
This superb book is highly recommended for all writers, artists, and creators. You’ll learn how to remove the barriers which hold you back and make progress in your work.

5. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones (James Clear) — 234 pages
Many of the books on this list deal with goal setting. While this is all very well, the author of Atomic Habits advises that you do things differently. In his view, you need to focus on creating a system of micro habits. These small changes eventually compound over time and lead to exponential results.

Should you buy it?
If you can’t handle the stress of setting enormous goals, this new book provides a refreshing alternative.

6. The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-control (Walter Mischell) — 336 pages
The Marshmallow Test is a famous psychological experiment carried out at Stanford University. The researchers designed it to study the idea of delayed gratification. Children were given two choices. Either eat one marshmallow now or two after 15 minutes. Predictably, most children opted to eat their marshmallows immediately. Because of this, researchers concluded that the key to delaying gratification was to focus on things other than the reward.

Should you buy it?
This is a good book. It’s also an excellent choice for people who want a deeper understanding of the psychology behind self-discipline.

7. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Carol S. Dweck) — 276 pages
According to psychologist Carol Dweck, people have either a fixed or growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe their abilities (such as intelligence) cannot be increased. People with a growth mindset believe they can improve as people.

Should you buy it?
Like the previous book, this is great for those who want an in-depth look into the psychology of self-control. It’s also recommended for people who know they could do better but don’t know where to begin.

8. The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success (Darren Hardy) — 208 pages
Similar to Atomic Habits, this book deals with the idea that positive habits compound over time. Creating change is as easy as making better choices on a day-to-day basis. Over time these slowly accumulate and lead to a successful life.

Should you buy it?
Once again, if you’re overwhelmed by the idea of making drastic changes – and want a simpler way to transform your life – then this is for you.

9. The Practicing Mind (Thomas M. Sterner) — 170 pages
This is another book that dismisses the idea of goal setting. In fact, the author of this book claims that obsessing over goals is actually counterproductive. Instead, you need to see goal achievement as a form of practice. For example, if you want to improve your golf swing, focus on gradually improving and forget about the final result.

Should you buy it?
This is a great book if you want to build discipline for the purpose of mastering a particular skill. You’ll learn why goal setting doesn’t always work and how to get better with practice.

10. Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength (Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney) — 304 pages
Penned by a research psychologist and New York Times science writer, this book explores the concept of willpower. The main idea is that willpower isn’t something that is infinite. What this means is that we have to learn how to manage and constructively channel this finite resource.

Should you buy it?
Many self-development authors and psychologists claim this is one of the best willpower books ever written. Definitely worth reading.

11. Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results (Stephen Guise) — 206 pages
Mini habits are goals so small you cannot help but achieve them. By focusing on a simple goal, you also shortcut the brain’s natural tendency to resist new habits. For example, let’s say you want to get into shape. You could start by doing one pushup a day for a week, then two a day for the next week, and so on.

Should you buy it?
If you’re having a difficult time building self-control or implementing good habits, then this book will help.

12. The Master Key to Riches (Napoleon Hill) — 250 pages
This book provides step-by-step instructions for building willpower and mental toughness. According to the author, this is the “Master Key to Riches” and the secret to high performance.

Should you buy it?
Anyone interested in the subject of mind power will definitely benefit from reading this book. There are dozens of exercises and instructions for implementing them into your life.

13. Essential Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change (Leo Babauta) — 142 pages
Unlike most of the books on this list, Zen Habits takes a more spiritual approach. In this book, you’ll learn about the concept of mindfulness and how to use it when breaking bad habits. It also talks about getting out of your head and eliminating deeply held beliefs.

Should you buy it?
This is an outstanding book for people who want something more spiritual. It’s also great for those who are struggling to develop willpower through painful effort.

14. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It (Kelly McGonigal) — 275 pages
This bestseller explores the idea that willpower derives from your biology. This is completely opposite to the common belief that it’s simply a part of your character. What this also means is that self-discipline is similar to your health and can only be maintained through things like exercise, proper nutrition, and sleep.

Should you buy it?
You’ll enjoy this book if you’re tired of forcing discipline on yourself. The ideas spoken about are practical and really work if you take the time to apply them.

15. The Little Book of Big Change: The No-willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit (Amy Johnson and Mark Howard) — 195 pages
Is willpower really necessary when breaking bad habits? The authors of this book claim that the answer is no. Instead, all you have to do is tap into something they call the “universal mind.” Simply by doing this, you can break any habit – with almost no work necessary.

Should you buy it?
“New age” teachings and beliefs make up most of the information in this book. If you’re a fan of that kind of stuff, then you’ll probably get something out of it.

16. The Science of Self-discipline: The Willpower, Mental Toughness, and Self-control to Resist Temptation and Achieve Your Goals (Peter Hollins) — 218 pages
Human psychology researcher Peter Hollins spent more than a decade studying how self-control works. In this book, he reveals some of what he learned. This includes numerous practical techniques for self-improvement, plus personal anecdotes of his own efforts.

Should you buy it?
This book is more of a general guide to self-discipline and goal setting. It’s great if you’re looking for something basic or just want a simple introduction.

17. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (Cal Newport) — 304 pages
The ability to focus for long periods of time is defined in this book as “deep work.” With this powerful tool, you can produce incredible changes. Not only that, you can do it in less time than you ever thought possible.

Should you buy it?
Anyone who finds it difficult to concentrate while working will probably benefit from this book. You’ll learn how to focus on one task at a time and destroy the distractions which hold you back.

18. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…and Maybe the World (Admiral William H. McRaven) — 144 pages
Most personal development authors have very little real-world experience, but admiral McRaven is different. As a former four-star admiral, he’s more than qualified to talk about the subject of discipline.

Should you buy it?
Filled with practical advice and wisdom, it’s recommended for anyone wanting to make a change.

19. Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual (Jocko Willink) — 189 pages
Similar to the above book, Discipline Equals Freedom was written by former navy seal Jocko Willink. In this book, he recounts his time in the army and shares the valuable lessons he learned while enlisted. It’s inspiring and will motivate you.

Should you buy it?
People who want advice from someone a little tougher than your usual self-help guru will have a great time with this book.

20. The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play (Neil Fiore) — 206 pages
They say that procrastination is the thief of time. Not only that, but it’s also a sign that you lack discipline. With this book, you’ll learn why you procrastinate, how to kill this destructive habit, plus ways to take time off – without feeling guilty.

Should you buy it?
If procrastination is harming your life, then this book is worth its weight in gold. It delves into the psychological reasons for procrastination and provides constructive strategies for solving this issue.

21. The Science of Self-Control (Howard Rachlin) — 240 pages
Containing charts, diagrams, and psychological research, this is more of a textbook than a self-help book. It examines our cognitive biases and provides an in-depth overview of this topic. With the information in this book, you’ll become a more disciplined person and start taking control of your life.

Should you buy it?
This book is probably the most complex of those we’ve mentioned. You may have a hard time understanding it, but those who persist are bound to learn something useful.

22. The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (Barry Schwartz) — 308 pages
The idea behind this book is simple. Modern society presents us with too many choices. This abundance of choices means we have a hard time controlling ourselves. Whether it’s options for desert or the latest Disney Plus series, these choices make discipline impossible. The solution is to simplify our lives.

Should you buy it?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and out of control, then this book will help you. It’s filled with fascinating insights and advice for improving your everyday life.

23. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results (Gary Keller and Jay Papasan) — 246 pages
Distractions are probably the biggest reason why people struggle with self-control. It’s difficult to focus when so many things are competing for your attention. This book provides great ways for improving your focus and harnessing the power of concentration.

Should you buy it?
Focus is an essential ingredient for self-control. Filled with enlightening stories and simple wisdom, this book rewards anyone who reads it.

24. Time Warrior: How to Defeat Procrastination, People-pleasing, Self Doubt, over Commitment, Broken Promises and Chaos (Steve Chandler) — 238 pages
It takes discipline to show up on time and get things done. This book provides a new perspective for looking at time. Instead of clockwatching, you’ll learn how to create new mental states which give you greater control of your time.

Should you buy it?
This book will work wonders for anyone who struggles with time management. The information is free of fluff, to the point, and easy to implement.

25. Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds (David Goggins) — 364 pages
More of an autobiography than a self-improvement book, Can’t Hurt Me recounts the story of an overweight teenager who transformed his life and became a decorated Navy Seal.

Should you buy it?
David Goggins is world-famous for his extreme athletic ability. From running multiple ultra-marathons to breaking world endurance records, he might be the world’s leading authority on self-discipline.

26. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Angela Duckworth) — 240 pages
Self-discipline gets easier when you have a “why” behind your actions. With the right awareness of your purpose, you really can do anything. Angela Duckworth’s book helps you discover this passion and provides a practical guide for putting it into action.

Should you buy it?
Motivation is the first step on the road to increased self-control. Without it, there’s no desire for improvement. The problem is that many people lack this impulse. In this book, you’ll learn why a great purpose provides all the incentive you’ll ever need.

27. Power Vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior (David R. Hawkins) — 341 pages
Does it always feel like you have to “force” yourself into self-discipline? This book provides readers with an alternative way of doing things. It explains the difference between force and power, and why cultivating power is the secret to greater self-discipline.

Should you buy it?
You’ve probably noticed a feeling of resistance whenever you require discipline. This book will help you overcome this. You’ll learn why forcing yourself isn’t the answer and how to gain control in an easier and more effective way.

28. The Mental Toughness Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Facing Life’s Challenges, Managing Negative Emotions, and Overcoming Adversity with Courage and Poise (Damon Zahariades) — 206 pages
Want a quick and easy crash course in developing your mind and becoming a stronger person? This comprehensive book is the perfect antidote for people who are sick of reading and want to take action now.

Should you buy it?
The best thing about this handbook is that there’s almost no theory. Instead, it’s packed with practical exercises. With this advice, you can make positive changes immediately.

29. Self-discipline in 10 Days: How to Go from Thinking to Doing (Theodore Bryant) — 160 pages
Each of us has a good and bad side. The author refers to this bad side as “Mr. Hyde,” and it’s this person who sabotages important tasks. To get better results, we need to deny and suppress this personality. This guide shows you how.

Should you buy it?
This is an interesting book and definitely worth reading. The exercises are simple and to the point, plus the 10-day program means that results happen quickly (provided you’re willing to put in the work.)

30. Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time (Brian Tracy) — 105 pages
Eat That Frog contains 21 timeless techniques for gaining control of your life. These include cutting-edge insights that help you work faster, meet deadlines, and enjoy more spare time.

Should you buy it?
If you’re looking for a straightforward guide to self-discipline, then this is it. It’s also one of the shortest self-discipline books on this list and won’t take more than a few hours to read. The only real criticism is that some people might find this information overly simplistic.

Books for Young Adults

31. Smart but Scattered Teens: The “Executive Skills” Program for Helping Teens Reach Their Potential (Richard Guare and Peg Dawson) — 304 pages
Written by two psychologists, this book provides a guide for parents who want to instill the values of self-discipline and self-control. You’ll learn a series of techniques (backed by science) for teaching your teen how to focus, finish their schoolwork, and control their impulses.

Should you buy it?
Not only is this guide filled with useful information, but it also contains quizzes, worksheets, and activities for your teen. These are a great way of getting your child to engage with the material.

32. How to Become a Successful Teenager: Volume 1 – the Art of Self-discipline (Fabian Campbell) — 62 pages
This book mimics the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and uses short stories to convey important life lessons. It helps teens learn the basics of self-discipline, including things like time management, decision-making, and self-awareness.

Should you buy it?
What’s great about this book is that the stories are highly entertaining. Many of them are also taken from the authors personal experiences. This greatly increases the chances that teenagers will finish the book and apply the information. It’s also short, making it perfect for kids with short attention spans.

Books for Teenage Girls

33. The Teen Girl’s Survival Guide: Ten Tips for Making Friends, Avoiding Drama, and Coping with Social Stress (Lucie Hemmen) — 208 pages
As a teenage girl, you’re often forced to deal with pressure. Standing up for yourself takes willpower and self-discipline. This book provides young girls with a simple process for doing this. They also learn how to live the best life possible and reach their full potential.

Should you buy it?
The author is a mother to two girls and draws her lessons from real-life experiences, making this an excellent choice for anyone concerned about their teenage daughter.

34. The Teens Guide to World Domination: Advice on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Awesomeness (Josh Shipp) — 308 pages
This book has an interesting premise. The author groups his topics into various categories such as ninjas, pirates, robots, and zombies. Each of these has attributes that can harm you in different ways. For example, ninjas are people who back-stab and lie to you. Pirates are bullies and people who take advantage of you. Vampires are addictions and harmful influences.

Should you buy it?
As a former foster child, Josh Campbell is the perfect person to guide confused teenagers. He’s written an interesting book that is sure to resonate with anyone who reads it.

Books for Teenage Boys

35. The Mindful Teen: Powerful Skills to Help You Handle Stress One Moment at a Time (Dzung X. Vo) — 249 pages
Mindfulness is a well-established technique for personal growth. Not only that but it’s also been shown to help with self-control. Written by a former pediatrician, this book assists kids in taking control of their emotions and avoiding the problems which stem from a lack of discipline.

Should you buy it?
Filled with wisdom and helpful advice, this is a terrific book for hormonally driven boys. The lessons are easy to understand, despite this topic being complex. Each chapter also contains exercises for putting these lessons into practice.

36. Overcoming Procrastination for Teens: A Cbt Guide for College-bound Students (William J. Knaus) — 152 pages
Finishing homework and studying for tests is a major problem for many teens. This book aims to help children avoid these issues and build their self-discipline. It also teaches many of the success principles needed for high achievement and finding a great job later in life.

Should you buy it?
The best thing about this book is that it’s based on CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy.) This is a scientifically proven method for improving different areas of life and overcoming psychological issues.

Books for Children

37. My Mouth Is a Volcano! (Julia Cook) — 32 pages
In this children’s book, we meet a boy called Louis, who has a difficult time letting others talk. Over the course of this beautifully illustrated story, we see how he learns to overcome this habit and starts communicating in a more productive way.

Should you buy it?
If you’re struggling with children who frequently interrupt, then this popular book will be an enormous help. It’s also a great introduction to effective social skills.

38. A Grand Bed Adventure (A.M. Marcus) — 64 pages
This book introduces children to the value of a daily routine. It’s a fantastic way to teach children about the greater sense of self-worth which comes with goal achievement and makes for a wonderful bedtime story.

Should you buy it?
It’s never too early to start! Teaching children these critical life lessons is the best way to set them up for an extraordinary life.

39. Katie Loves the Kittens (John Himmelmann) — 32 pages
Katie is a young dog who gets overexcited when her owner comes home with three small kittens. She barks incessantly and plays roughly with her new friends. Despite Katie’s best intentions, she frightens the kittens but eventually learns to control herself.

Should you buy it?
This book teaches children the value of self-control and playing well with others. They also learn that sharing is caring and how to treat people who are smaller than you.

40. What Were You Thinking? (Bryan Smith) — 35 pages
Braden is a boy with poor impulse control. He loves being the center of attention, but this often gets him into hot water. In this book, he learns how to moderate himself and that you don’t always have to say what’s on your mind.

Should you buy it?
This book teaches children that it’s sometimes better to keep quiet. You may think that your comments are funny or clever, but they can actually hurt people and impact their mental health.


41. Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman and Patrick Egan) — 20 hours and 2 minutes
Based on several decades of research, this book is written by Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel prize in economics. From these studies, he concluded that our brain operates in two distinct modes. “System 1,” which is fast and emotional, and “System 2,” a thoughtful, slower, and more logical way of thinking.

Should you buy it?
What really separates Thinking, Fast and Slow is the incredible depth of research. By listening to this book, you’ll get access to the world’s most cutting-edge discoveries in psychology. Some of this stuff is incredible and makes the audiobook a worthwhile investment.

42. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Daniel H. Pink) — 5 hours and 53 minutes
This is another book that highlights the importance of having a central purpose. It’s this purpose that creates the discipline needed to achieve goals. Purpose also provides the motivation required to master certain skills and overcome obstacles.

Should you buy it?
Scientific research backs many of the concepts mentioned in this book. You’ll hear entertaining examples of various techniques in practice and learn how to implement them into your own life.

43. The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Hal Elrod) — 4 hours and 57 minutes
How you begin your morning will affect the rest of your day. This is why creating a morning routine can have powerful effects on your level of self-control. This book introduces the S.A.V.E.R.S. system. According to the author, these are six little things that set your day up for success.

Should I buy it?
People who struggle with chaotic mornings will benefit greatly from this book. With more than two million copies sold, the information is top-notch and guaranteed to help you.

44. The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success (Jeff Olsen) — 2 hours and 2 minutes
Like the Compound Effect and Atomic Habits, this book centers around the idea of small incremental changes. By building up slowly, you greatly increase your chances of eventual success. The author refers to this concept as the “slight edge” and claims it’s the secret to creating long-term discipline.

Should you buy it?
This book will mostly appeal to people who are against all-or-nothing thinking. If you prefer the idea of taking one slow step at a time, this book will certainly help you.

45. The Disciplined Mind: Develop Mental Toughness, Strengthen Your Willpower, and Control Your Thoughts (Zoe McKey) — 2 hours and 53 minutes
This is another general guide to self-control and discipline. It contains the usual topics you’d expect to find in a book like this. These include things like overcoming the fear of failure, using stress to your advantage, and making the best use of your free time.

Should you buy it?
While the information is fairly basic, you’ll probably find the book useful if you’re new to this subject.

46. Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives (Dan Millman) — 6 hours and 1 minute
The Way of the Peaceful Warrior is more of a novel than a self-help manual. Telling the story of a young gymnast and his unlikely mentor, it contains one-of-a-kind insights into developing discipline.

Should you buy it?
First written in 1980, this book has remained popular for almost four decades. Anyone who reads it will soon learn why. The lessons and wisdom contained are timeless and sure to help in your own journey to success.

47. Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life (Shakti Gawain)– 3 hours and 5 minutes
Can we develop ourselves and break bad habits with visualization? Shakti Gawain certainly thinks so. In this book, she describes dozens of ways to get what you want through the power of visualization.

Should you buy it?
Many people consider Creative Visualization a classic in self-help literature. Not only that but it’s also sold more than 10 million copies. While this book may not appeal to everyone (it focuses heavily on new age concepts), spiritually inclined people may find it valuable.

48. Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done (Ian Ayres) — 9 hours and 16 minutes
This book asks the age-old philosophical question. Do you discipline yourself with the carrot or the stick? Ian Ayres claims that the carrot is always better, and in this book, he makes a strong case why.

Should you buy it?
The author of this book is a former behavioral economist and serial entrepreneur. With this background, he provides a unique perspective on the topic of self-growth, making this book a cut above the rest.

49. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-class Performers (Tim Ferris) — 22 hours and 41 minutes
Tim Ferris was the first podcaster to hit 100 million downloads on Apple. He’s known for interviewing mega-successful people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Fox, and Tony Robbins. These guests provided him with invaluable lessons and tools, which he now writes about in the Tools of Titans.

Should you buy it?
This book contains surprising information you won’t find anywhere else. This alone makes it worth a look.

50. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (Stephen R. Covey) — 13 hours and 4 minutes
This groundbreaking book has sold more than 10 million copies. There’s a reason why. The lessons it provides on self-control are indispensable and will literally change your life in minutes.

Should you buy it?
A confirmed self-help classic, this book will help anyone who reads it. It’s also recommended for people who want something a little meatier and business oriented.


Self-discipline doesn’t require tough love or hard work. In fact, it’s a lot easier than you think. The first rule is deciding that you’re going to do it. The second rule is making sure that you never give up. Good luck on your journey!

About The Author
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