The Encyclopedia
of Differences

Difference between Self-Control and Self-Discipline

Table of Contents

Self-control and self-discipline are two important aspects of personal development that are quite similar, but they are not the same thing.

The main difference between self-control and self-discipline is that self-control refers to the ability to resist immediate impulses, while self-discipline involves consistently practicing good habits and following through on long-term goals.

What is self-control?

Self-control is the ability to manage one's impulses, emotions, and desires in response to external stimuli or internal urges. Self-control is considered an essential aspect of emotional intelligence and a crucial factor in personal and professional success.

self control

Let's illustrate this with President John F. Kennedy's self-control example:

During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the United States discovered that the Soviet Union was building nuclear missile sites in Cuba, which could have posed a direct threat to the US. President John F. Kennedy was pressured to take aggressive military action against the Soviet Union.

Despite the high stakes and mounting pressure from his advisors, President Kennedy maintained his self-control and chose a more measured approach, implementing a naval blockade around Cuba to prevent further weapons shipments.

kennedy self control cuba missiles crisis

Kennedy's self-control in this critical situation helped avert a potential nuclear war, demonstrating the power and importance of self-regulation in making responsible, level-headed decisions that can have far-reaching consequences.

What is self-discipline?

Self-discipline often refers to the broader capacity to develop and maintain habits and behaviors that contribute to personal success and well-being. 

Here is a self-discipline example in daily life:

Imagine you are on a strict diet aiming to lose weight and improve your overall health. One hot summer day, you pass by an ice cream truck, and the tempting aroma of fresh chocolate ice cream wafts through the air. You have a powerful craving to indulge in a large scoop of your favorite flavor.

self discipline

In this situation, self-discipline comes into play as you consciously choose to resist the immediate satisfaction of having ice cream, acknowledging that doing so would sabotage your long-term goal of weight loss and improved health. You might remind yourself of the progress you've made so far, the benefits of staying on track, or alternative ways to cool down without indulging in high-calorie treats.

Self-Control vs Self-Discipline: Comparison chart

DefinitionAbility to resist immediate impulsesConsistently practicing good habits
FocusMomentary temptationConsistent pursuit of goals
Skill setAbility to regulate thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in the face of temptationSetting goals, developing routines, and consistency through
PurposeOvercoming immediate gratification to achieve a specific goalEstablishing positive habits to achieve a larger goal
MotivationAvoidance of negative consequencesAchieve long-term goals
ChallengesRequires willpower and mental energyRequires commitment and consistency

Differences between Self-Control and Self-Discipline


Self-control is a narrower concept that focuses on the ability to resist immediate impulses and temptation. It requires individuals to regulate their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in the moment to avoid giving into their immediate desires. 

Self-discipline, on the other hand, is a broader concept that encompasses self-control but goes beyond it. Self-discipline requires individuals to develop a long-term plan, set goals, and consistently follow through on actions that help them achieve those goals.

While self-control is an important component of self-discipline, it is just one piece of a larger puzzle.


Self-control and self-discipline also differ in terms of the level of effort required to practice them. Self-control can be challenging because it requires individuals to resist immediate impulses and temptations, which can be difficult when faced with an immediate reward. 

Self-discipline, on the other hand, requires even more effort and dedication because it involves setting long-term goals and consistently working towards them, even when there may be no immediate reward.

Self-discipline requires individuals to develop new habits, change their behavior, and maintain their efforts over a long period of time.


Self-control helps individuals resist impulsive behavior and make decisions that align with their long-term goals and values. By practicing self-control, individuals can avoid giving into temptations that may lead to negative outcomes, such as unhealthy behaviors, poor decision-making, or harmful addictions. 

Self-discipline, on the other hand, offers benefits that extend beyond the ability to resist temptation. It helps individuals establish positive habits and routines that lead to long-term success and achievement.

By consistently following through on actions that align with their goals, individuals can develop the skills and behaviors necessary to achieve their aspirations and improve their lives.


Self-control typically involves short-term, immediate actions taken to resist temptation or impulses in the moment. For example, resisting the urge to eat junk food when you're on a diet or refraining from making an impulsive purchase. 

In contrast, self-discipline involves longer-term planning and commitment to a specific goal or behavior. It requires a more sustained effort over time, such as regularly sticking to a workout routine or studying every day to achieve a long-term academic goal. 

While self-control helps individuals resist immediate temptations, self-discipline requires a more significant investment of time and effort to achieve larger, more meaningful outcomes.


Self-control requires strong impulse control, emotional regulation, and the ability to delay gratification. It also involves being able to make rational decisions in the face of strong emotions or external pressure. 

In contrast, self-discipline requires a different set of skills, including goal-setting, planning, and consistency. It involves the ability to stay focused on a long-term goal despite setbacks, distractions, or obstacles that may arise along the way.

Self-discipline also requires a willingness to prioritize the actions necessary to achieve the goal and to make sacrifices in the short term for the sake of long-term success.


Here are 10 similarities between self-control and self-discipline:

  1. Important skills for achieving goals
  2. Involve resisting temptation and delaying gratification
  3. Require a certain level of willpower and self-awareness
  4. Involve making conscious decisions to prioritize long-term outcomes
  5. Require practice and effort to master
  6. Lead to greater self-confidence and personal growth
  7. Involve setting priorities and making conscious choices
  8. Require consistent effort over time
  9. Can be strengthened through practice and training
  10. Can help individuals overcome bad habits and develop new, positive behaviors


Both self-control and self-discipline are crucial for personal growth and success. While self-control helps individuals resist impulsive behavior and make decisions that align with their long-term goals and values, self-discipline helps establish positive habits and routines that lead to long-term success and achievement.

Understanding the differences between the two concepts can help individuals develop the necessary skills and behaviors to achieve their aspirations and improve their lives.

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
Share our Article on:

Table of Contents

About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
All Posts Written By Tom Vincent

One comment on “Difference between Self-Control and Self-Discipline”

  1. Very good article. After reading your thoughts i see myself as very disciplined but still having self-control issues like getting upset. It seems self-control is more of an emotional decision and discipline a thinking decision. Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

magnifiercrosschevron-downarrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram