The Best Book About Self-Discipline I've Ever Read

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Last week a friend recommended a fantastic book: 365 Days With Self-Discipline: 365 Life-Altering Thoughts on Self-Control, Mental Resilience, and Success. I find self-control a fascinating topic and I had a spare Audible credit so after finishing my previous book I quickly grabbed it. I’m absolutely hooked. To the point of considering it my new bible.

The book is organized in chapters with one aspect of self-discipline per day for 365 days. Each chapter starts with a quote and expands on the quote’s ideas. My first reaction to the book’s narration by John Gagnepain – check out the sample below – was being unimpressed. I initially thought it was  somewhat monotone and nonchalant. A bit “corporate”. After having recently listened to the high-energy narrations of  Rework by Mike Chamberlain and Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It, the opening minutes made me think I was in for 10 hours of boredom 🥱.

“Willpower is what separates us from the animals. It’s the capacity to restrain our impulses, resist temptation — do what’s right and good for us in the long run, not what we want to do right now. It’s central, in fact, to civilization.”

But the unemotional narration style adds a touch of humor and drives the point home better than if it was narrated by a more cheerful voice. “When you start exercising, expect to be ridiculed by your friends, whose only exercise is with the remote control all evening while watching their favorite show”, read dispassionately, made me laugh out loud.

My strategy for this book is to listen to a few chapters every day, especially at critical times when my will-power tends to be lower. The post-lunch food fatigue for example often leads to high levels of fruit-consumption or Instagram-flicking. It’s been working so far. I feel more equipped to deal with self-sabotaging thoughts. I’ve read many self-disciple books before but none were as effective in changing my mindset. It teams up really with Atomic Habits, which has the best anecdotes and Tiny Habits, the most actionable.

I trust that this approach is better than a traditional binge-read with little reflection and practice. As the book itself says, bad habits were formed throughout many years, sometimes decades. Reading a book in a week is unlikely to shake things up. Only painstaking reconditioning will do the job.

My Bad Habits

Like everyone else, I could come up with a big list of destructive habits but as I advocate to students and mentees, tackling too many objectives at the same time more often than not leads to frustration. My priority right now is to confront my relationship with food. Although I eat healthier than most and I’m somewhat fit, I struggle with spells of chocolate-fueled debauchery and funnily enough, mind-boggling levels of fruit consumption. Fruit is hard to avoid because it’s easy to justify. It’s rich in nutrients, not processed and has no added sugar. I was brought up on it so it’s deeply wired into my brain. Right now I average four or five daily pieces, generally bananas and apples after having started my day with a bunch of berries. And that’s because I’ve improved a lot. And I still have bouts where I’ll eat twice as much.

Working from home, it’s very easy to go downstairs to make another cup of coffee or grab another bite of whatever I can find in the fridge/pantry. My mind inevitably goes there when I’m facing a hard programming problem. That means I’m eating for reasons that have nothing to do with hunger. 

The game plan to tame this lion will be two fold: tracking the amount of pieces of fruit I eat and limit its intake to have it only as a dessert, not a meal by itself, unless I’m quickly grabbing a banana before the gym. “What we can measure we can improve”.

How about you? What is one bad habit you’d like to tackle? And how do you plan to do it?


A quick follow-up from the previous post. Although I painted myself into a corner with too many commitments, I think I did a decent job at prioritizing this week. I was disciplined enough to say no to the temptation of jumping around amongst several tasks and dedicated 27 hours to building the new website for The C# Academy in the last 10 days. What’s driving this surge is the fact that this is a finite project. Getting it out of the way will allow me to go back to spending more time in the ongoing task of creating amazing educational content. I hope to have the new version out within a week 💪🏻.