In the mid ‘90s when I was a basketball player, there was an Adidas commercial that had made such an impact on my dedication and motivation that I wrote it as a transcript on a big paper to be visible on the wall in my room. It said:

“It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s 6 AM and you’re out there running hard. And after 45 minutes of sheer agony, you come to the sensible conclusion that you never want to do this ever again. But you know tomorrow morning you’ll be out there, doing exactly the same thing. Because there’s one thing that hurts more than training, and that’s losing!”

This motivational quote was so effective that really helped me build my discipline, especially in the early winter mornings when staying in a cozy bed was more attractive than going to an early practice. Probably some of you have experienced similar situations in your career, either you are a player, referee, or coach when you would rather stay at home at your comfort than go outside for running or in the gym for practice.

As Cambridge Dictionary explains well: self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do things you know you should do even when you do not want to.

Being a fully dedicated, motivated, and self-disciplined person when it comes to the accomplishment of your dreams and goals probably is one of the most challenging things on the way.

Many sports professionals have experienced situations when they were struggling with the motivation and dedication for practice or extra effort. Experiencing the lack of self-discipline is not something unusual but contrary it can happen many times.


“If you are not willing to work hard and
establish discipline in your life, then all
your dreams are merely pipe dreams.”
– Rick Pitino –

When it comes to inner motivation and strong self-discipline questions that may help you have a clear vision of what do you want are: What do I want to achieve or gain? What am I willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it? The answers to these questions should be your guiding star through the (usually) very difficult and challenging journey to success.



To build the strong self-discipline that will help you in pursuit of your dreams the organisation of time and goal-setting are crucial. In January 2021, I wrote about the PRIMER goal-setting method that can help you keep your motivation and guide you through the challenging process of reaching goals you desire.

You can instead try with the SMART (or SMARTER) method or many others that you can find in nowadays literature. The detailed plan and goal-setting structure will give you a step-by-step map of the journey to your goals.


As previously mentioned, time organisation is very important to maintain self-discipline. The more you are able to organise your daily activities and tasks within the daily and/or weekly time frame the more successful you’ll be.

For example, instead of saying that you’ll do your running practice twice per week, you should dedicate yourself doing it every Tuesday and Friday (i.e.) in the morning (or in the afternoon) for 30-45 minutes. Be specific when making time plan for your activities and practice. This will help you maintain the necessary motivation and self-discipline.



While practicing self-discipline, reward yourself for the effort and the small achievements you made. Especially when you know you have successfully ignored many distractions and temptations on the way.

After you finish with a practice cycle or a certain action plan give yourself a treat. For example, this can be something you like to eat the most or something you like to do in your free time. Self-discipline can be mentally hard, but with the small treats and rewards, you make it stronger and lasting.



Get started with the step-by-step way. Do not wait for the “feel right moment” – the right moment is now. It doesn’t matter how small the first step it is but it is important to start. As long as you’re going in the right direction the size of the step doesn’t matter. With small but continuous steps we reach desired destination. Cumulative small achievements eventually lead to big results.


“The journey of a thousand miles begins with
a single step. “
– Lao Tzu –



Productive habits and routines are very important when speaking about strengthening self-discipline and motivation for long-term goals. Creating a daily (weekly) practice routine can help you structure desired behaviours as productive habits which are essential ingredients of strong and solid self-discipline.

When you’ll start to achieve small goals after a few steps and proper routines, you’ll start to feel good about which will increase your motivation and clear your direction to continue in that way. Eventually, this ‘I am making progress, I am feeling good cycle’ will strengthen your self-discipline and help you in a long-term goal-setting way.

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