Motivation vs. Discipline
We all want to be motivated. We all want to be disciplined. You might be thinking, “What’s the difference?” But according to many self-help gurus, there are differences. Or are there?
At the beginning of the year, you’re motivated to make some changes. You’re going to find a better job, lose 30 pounds, exercise each day, and read a book each week. You’re so excited at the beginning of the year.
You purchase a gym membership, some new cross training shoes, and join Amazon Prime, because you know you’re going to be ordering a lot of books, and you’ll make good use of that free shipping.
Fast-forward to early March and you realize that you’ve only read two books, haven’t been to the gym in weeks, spent $30 on Amazon prime, $90 on your gym membership, and gained exactly one pound.
You were motivated at the beginning, but you lacked the discipline necessary to carry on when your motivation flagged.
Many believe there are differences between motivation and discipline:
- Motivation is the emotion of wanting to do something. You might wish that you were motivated to go to the gym or to paint the spare bedroom. Of course, you’re motivated to go fishing if you love fishing. There are many ways to create motivation and motivating yourself
- Discipline is doing the thing that needs to be done, regardless of whether you feel like doing it or not. Discipline requires discomfort. If it were comfortable, you’d already be motivated to do it.
- You’ll never be free without discipline. If you require motivation to do something, you’re at the mercy of your emotions. There are too many things left undone if motivation is necessary for you to take action. To have real control over your life and yourself, discipline is necessary.
- Discipline is limited. You can only force yourself to do something you don’t like for so long. Some people have quite a bit more than others, but everyone runs out eventually unless someone is standing over them with a stick.
- Discipline is most useful for developing habits. Habit formation requires discipline at first. However, once a habit is established, discipline is no longer required. You don’t need discipline to brush your teeth, for example. Use your discipline where it can have long-lasting effects by developing powerful habits.
Another Way to Look at It
Discipline and motivation can be almost the same thing, too. Consider that discipline is largely the ability to self-motivate. You wouldn’t make yourself do a task in the first place if there were no benefit to you. You either believe you’re going to receive something enjoyable or avoid something painful.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that those people with discipline are actually those people with a high level of skill in the art of self-motivation. Those with the ability to motivate themselves can do the seemingly impossible.
The person that can drag themselves out of bed on a cold, rainy morning to go for a run is someone that is able to focus on their long-term objective. They are good at reminding themselves why they need to put on their shoes and head out the door. They focus on the benefits instead of the misery of getting up and facing cold, wet weather.
Keep the benefits on your behaviors in mind, rather than focusing on the task itself. Learning to motivate yourself is more important than any concepts of discipline, motivation, enthusiasm, and willpower.
If you can motivate yourself, any goal is within reach. Every action you take or avoid is due to some level of motivation.