Motivation Versus Discipline

Unfortunately, motivation is an easily traded commodity. It’s easy to feel motivated, and it’s even an adrenaline rush. It feels good taking action and going through a period of euphoric release as you get things done. Especially if you make a series of resolutions which you know will benefit your life. You’ll feel energized as you begin the process of redefining yourself.

But the problem is that motivation, by itself, won’t change your lifestyle and habits. The motivation trap is when you confuse high motivation with something called discipline. While motivation is important, it’s only with discipline that you will experience lasting change.

For instance, you may resolve to lose 30 lbs. During a spike of high motivation you throw out all of your fatty, high-sugar foods, and you buy a sack of carrots. The motivation feels great for about a week. Then, the motivation that’s carrying you fizzles out. You return to your old habits after the initial “high” is over when you realize that the task is no picnic, or something actually de-motivates you (criticism from peers, for example).

This is when you are really put to the test. It’s when you lose your motivation, but you know you must keep pushing forward that discipline must take effect. It’s when you have absolutely no desire to go to the gym and you must go through that inner-struggle to get yourself out the door. If you stay at home, you know you’ll feel like a huge loser, but even this sounds more appealing than forcing yourself to do something you get no pleasure from.

Discipline is what must kick in when you have no energy and no desire left to do something. If we only relied on motivation, we’d only accomplish things “when we felt like it….”, and no lasting, positive commitment could ever happen.

Interestingly, once you push through the discipline-threshold, and you accomplish something which you had no desire to do, the motivation will return. This is because using discipline to push yourself forward is one of the most empowering feelings you can create.

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