11 Best Books on Willpower and Building Self-Discipline

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What is willpower and how can it impact your life? If you ever think about this question, you really need to check out at least one of these top-rated books on willpower and building self-discipline.

In our quest for personal and professional success, willpower and self-discipline emerge as the bedrock of lasting achievement.

Yet, these are traits many find elusive and challenging to cultivate.

If you've ever battled with procrastination, struggled to stick with new year resolutions, or wavered in the face of temptation, you're not alone.

The good news is that self-discipline is not an innate trait but a skill that can be learned and honed through knowledge and practice.

This carefully curated list of books about procrastination serves as your personal arsenal to conquer the war against wavering wills and half-hearted resolutions.

From Charles Duhigg's deep dive into the mechanics of habit formation to Admiral William H. McRaven's simple yet profound life lessons from “Make Your Bed“, these books provide unprecedented insights into the psychology and pragmatics of self-discipline.

Ready to sculpt a stronger self with the help of some of the best minds on the subject?

Here are the “11 Best Books on Willpower and Building Self-Discipline” that are more than just reads; they're manuals for a profound personal transformation.

Whether you're a student, a professional, an entrepreneur, or simply someone on a quest for self-improvement, brace yourself to emerge more resilient, focused, and tenacious.

Book by book, page by page, discover the art of harnessing willpower and cultivating the self-discipline that lies within you.

1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

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Takeaways:

  • The book explores the science behind habits and offers insights into how habits are formed and can be transformed, leading to personal and professional success.
  • It delves into the concept of habit loops, emphasizing the importance of identifying cues, routines, and rewards to understand and change habits effectively.
  • The author highlights the role of keystone habits, which have the potential to spark widespread positive change in various areas of life.
  • The book provides practical strategies for habit change, including the concept of “small wins” and the implementation of deliberate routines to rewire behavior.
  • It offers real-life examples and case studies to illustrate how individuals, organizations, and societies have successfully reshaped habits to achieve remarkable outcomes.

If you’re looking for a book to help you understand how habits are formed, why it’s hard to change your habits, and how habits can deeply impact your life, this is the title for you.

In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, you’ll learn that habits have three main parts:

  • Cue
  • Routine
  • Reward

When we are able to recognize these three parts, we are also better equipped to master our habits (especially bad habits) instead of allowing them to take over our lives.

Throughout this book, Charles Duhigg presents a helpful thesis that explains how we can form habits that benefit our personal development and get rid of those that hold us back.

Want to Learn More About Habit Change:

2. Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven

Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven

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Takeaways:

  • The book emphasizes the significance of starting the day with a simple yet impactful task, such as making the bed, to instill a sense of accomplishment.
  • It highlights the importance of perseverance and resilience, drawing lessons from military training and operations to inspire readers to overcome challenges and achieve their goals.
  • The author shares valuable insights on leadership, teamwork, and the power of unity, derived from his experiences as a Navy SEAL and military leader.
  • The book underscores the impact of small consistent actions in building a foundation for success and personal growth, using the act of making the bed as a metaphor for life's larger challenges.
  • It offers practical wisdom and motivational anecdotes to encourage readers to adopt a proactive and determined mindset in pursuing their aspirations and making a positive difference in the world.

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World is a blueprint for applying self-discipline in all areas of your life to maximize success.

Admiral McRaven was the key speaker at the 2014 commencement exercises at the University of Texas at Austin. His speech became the foundation of his bestselling book.

Within the book’s pages are 10 guiding principles for overcoming challenges in life. McRaven learned these principles while training as a Navy Seal.

Written in an engaging style, the book features anecdotes from the admiral’s life, providing valuable lessons on teamwork, dealing with failure, taking risks, and having the willpower to go on despite the challenges that arise.

3. The Mental Toughness Handbook by Damon Zahariades

The Mental Toughness Handbook by Damon Zahariades

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Takeaways:

  • The book provides practical strategies to develop mental toughness and resilience, enabling individuals to navigate challenges and setbacks effectively.
  • It emphasizes the importance of self-discipline, focus, and perseverance in achieving personal and professional goals, offering actionable techniques to strengthen these qualities.
  • The author explores the power of positive self-talk and reframing negative thoughts, guiding readers to cultivate a more optimistic and resilient outlook on life.
  • The book delves into the concept of stress management and emotional regulation, offering tools and practices to build emotional strength and cope with pressure effectively.
  • It provides insights on building confidence, overcoming self-doubt, and maintaining motivation in the face of adversity, empowering readers to cultivate mental toughness in various aspects of their lives.

The Mental Toughness Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Facing Life's Challenges, Managing Negative Emotions, and Overcoming Adversity With Courage and Poise explains the difference between grit and mental toughness.

It also provides actionable steps on how to endure hardships, function under pressure, and succeed in every challenge you encounter.

The book reveals the top seven traits of people who possess mental toughness, and also explains the close association between emotional mastery and mental toughness. It helps readers understand the significance of self-awareness in the development of mental fortitude.

Finally, it provides simple practices for developing self-control and reveals five habits that strengthen the mind and curb impulsive behavior.

4. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear

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Takeaways:

  • The book delves into the science of habit formation, offering practical strategies for habit change through small consistent changes.
  • It emphasizes the concept of “atomic habits,” highlighting the power of tiny, incremental actions in creating significant and sustainable improvements over time.
  • The author explores the role of environment and habit cues, providing insights on how to design an environment that promotes positive behaviors and minimizes triggers for negative habits.
  • The book emphasizes the importance of habit tracking, offering techniques for monitoring progress and staying accountable in habit formation.
  • It provides guidance on habit stacking, habit implementation intentions, and other effective methods for creating and maintaining positive habits, leading to lasting personal and professional growth.

In Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, readers come to understand the far-reaching impact of habits.

The book is a blueprint for creating habits that nourish and propel you to success.

Furthermore, it provides great best strategies for breaking habits that hold us back from our highest potential.

Some key takeaways from the book include:

  • Better habits improve the quality of our lives.
  • Choose to be around people who exhibit the behavior you want to develop in yourself.
  • To achieve lasting success with your goals, you must first focus on your identity, making improvements as needed. Once you’ve achieved the improvements you wish to see in yourself, the rest will follow.

5. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

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Takeaways:

  • This book explores the science of willpower, offering insights into the psychological and biological factors that influence our ability to resist temptation and make positive choices.
  • It delves into the concept of “willpower traps,” highlighting common pitfalls and cognitive biases that undermine self-control, and provides strategies for overcoming them.
  • The author emphasizes the role of mindfulness and self-awareness in strengthening willpower, offering practical exercises and techniques to enhance impulse control and decision-making.
  • The book provides guidance on managing stress, improving sleep, and nurturing physical well-being as essential components of bolstering willpower and self-discipline.
  • It offers a nuanced understanding of willpower, reframing it as a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time, and provides actionable advice for harnessing its potential for personal and professional success.

Looking for a science-based book about willpower? Look no further than The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It.

Kelly McGonigal offers insights from a number of different fields, including psychology, medicine, economics, and neuroscience, in this comprehensive book.

Here are some of the insights found in the book:

  • Willpower is actually a biological function that can be harnessed and improved in different ways, such as getting the right amount of self-care.
  • Willpower is a finite source, and that’s good, because being too rigid with ourselves has negative consequences for our health.
  • Mastering our own impulses is only possible if we give up the desire to be always in control.
  • It is important to find the right role models to help us master self-control and harness our own willpower.

6. Mastery by Robert Greene

Mastery by Robert Greene

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Takeaways:

  • The book delves into the principles of mastery, emphasizing the importance of dedication, continuous learning, and deliberate practice in achieving excellence in any field.
  • It highlights the stories of historical and contemporary masters, offering insights into their journeys and the strategies they employed to attain mastery in their respective domains.
  • The author explores the concept of “social intelligence” and the role of mentors, apprenticeship, and networking in the pursuit of mastery, emphasizing the value of learning from others.
  • The book emphasizes the significance of resilience, adaptability, and the ability to embrace failure as essential components of the mastery process.
  • It provides guidance on finding one's life task, cultivating creativity, and developing a deep understanding of one's chosen field, offering a roadmap for individuals seeking to achieve mastery in their endeavors.

Mastery reveals how we can unlock our potential and achieve success in our chosen fields.

Robert Greene uses the lives of famous and successful people throughout ancient and contemporary history as examples and jumping-off points for discussing the principles and strategies for achieving mastery.

Readers will learn about the three behaviors of our minds, namely:

  • Original mind
  • Conventional mind
  • Dimensional mind

The book offers insights into what our tasks in life are. It equips us with what we need to make positive changes.

7. The Science of Self-Discipline by Peter Hollins

The Science of Self-Discipline by Peter Hollins

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Takeaways:

  • The book explores the psychological aspects of self-discipline, offering practical strategies and techniques to strengthen willpower and achieve personal goals.
  • It emphasizes the role of habits, routines, and environment in shaping self-discipline, providing insights on how to design a conducive environment for success.
  • The author delves into the concept of delayed gratification and the ability to resist immediate temptations, offering tools and exercises to enhance patience and self-control.
  • The book provides tips on managing distractions, overcoming procrastination, and maintaining focus, empowering readers to cultivate greater self-discipline in their daily lives.
  • It offers insights on the neuroscience of self-discipline, providing a deeper understanding of the brain's role in decision-making and impulse control, and offers practical applications for leveraging this knowledge to build lasting self-discipline.

The first thing that readers will appreciate about this book is how easy it is to read. It provides actionable strategies on improving your self-discipline and successfully accomplishing your goals.

One important takeaway from Peter Hollins is that “self-discipline is not only the goal, but also the journey.

The Science of Self-Discipline: The Willpower, Mental Toughness, and Self-Control to Resist Temptation and Achieve Your Goals introduces the concept of neuroplasticity, where the brain adjusts or “rewires” itself in response to new stimuli.

He also shares the three executive functions that are prerequisites for achieving self-discipline:

  • Working memory
  • Impulse control
  • Cognitive flexibility and adaptability

Well-written and concise, this book is packed with useful information for building self-discipline and personal improvement.

8. The Power of Discipline by Daniel Walter

The Power of Discipline by Daniel Walter | Best Books on Willpower and Building Self-Discipline | books on willpower

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Takeaways:

  • Discipline is the key to achieving long-term success and reaching personal goals, as it helps to develop good habits and consistency in actions.
  • The book emphasizes the importance of self-control and willpower in overcoming obstacles and staying focused on the desired outcomes.
  • Walter discusses the significance of setting clear and achievable goals, as well as the role of discipline in staying committed to these goals despite challenges.
  • The Power of Discipline: How to Use Self Control and Mental Toughness to Achieve Your Goals highlights the impact of discipline on time management and productivity, enabling individuals to make the most of their time and resources.
  • The book also explores the connection between discipline and personal growth, illustrating how self-discipline can lead to greater self-improvement and fulfillment.

9. Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney

Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney | Best Books on Willpower and Building Self-Discipline | self-discipline books

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Takeaways:

  • Willpower is a finite resource that can be strengthened and managed through strategic practices, as outlined in the book.
  • The authors delve into the psychological and physiological aspects of self-control, shedding light on the science behind willpower and how it can be harnessed for personal and professional success.
  • Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength explores the impact of decision fatigue and the role of glucose levels in influencing self-discipline, offering practical insights into maintaining and replenishing willpower reserves.
  • The book emphasizes the significance of setting realistic goals and creating conducive environments to support willpower, enabling individuals to navigate challenges and resist temptation effectively.
  • Baumeister and Tierney discuss the correlation between willpower and various life outcomes, illustrating how mastering self-control can lead to improved well-being, productivity, and achievement.

10. Self-Discipline by John Winters

Self-Discipline by John Winters | Best Books on Willpower and Building Self-Discipline | bestselling books on willpower

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Takeaways:

  • Self-Discipline: How To Build Mental Toughness And Focus To Achieve Your Goals emphasizes the importance of cultivating a mindset of perseverance and determination to overcome obstacles and achieve personal goals.
  • The book offers practical strategies for developing self-discipline, including creating a structured routine, setting clear objectives, and managing time effectively.
  • Winters explores the link between self-discipline and success, highlighting how self-control and consistency can lead to long-term fulfillment and accomplishment.
  • Self-Discipline delves into the role of motivation and willpower in sustaining self-discipline, providing insights into maintaining focus and momentum during challenging times.
  • The book underscores the impact of self-discipline on personal growth and mental resilience, illustrating how it can empower individuals to take control of their lives and make positive changes.

11. 365 Days With Self-Discipline by Martin Meadows

365 Days With Self-Discipline by Martin Meadows | Best Books on Willpower and Building Self-Discipline | top books on willpower

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Takeaways:

  • 365 Days With Self-Discipline: 365 Life-Altering Thoughts on Self-Control, Mental Resilience, and Success emphasizes the importance of daily practices and habits in building self-discipline, highlighting the cumulative impact of consistent efforts over time.
  • Meadows provides actionable strategies for developing self-discipline, such as setting clear boundaries, managing distractions, and cultivating a growth mindset.
  • 365 Days With Self-Discipline explores the connection between self-discipline and resilience, illustrating how it can help individuals bounce back from setbacks and stay focused on their long-term objectives.
  • The book delves into the role of self-awareness and mindfulness in strengthening self-discipline, offering insights into recognizing and managing impulses and emotions effectively.
  • Meadows underscores the transformative power of self-discipline in various areas of life, from productivity and health to relationships and personal development, demonstrating its wide-ranging benefits.

Final Thoughts on Willpower Books

There you have it—seven willpower books for building self-discipline.

Each one offers strategies and methods to help you achieve your goals and reach a new level in your quest for personal development.

We hope that these books enlighten and inspire you and that the information you’ll learn from them will help you create positive changes in your life.

If you are interested in more resources about self-improvement and willpower, feel free to check out any of the posts below:

Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.

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