Sometime around the end of January people start berating themselves because they just aren’t motivated or disciplined enough to keep up their new year’s resolutions. We are here to tell you to STOP. Right now. Stop focusing on your so-called lack of motivation or discipline. This is all bullshit that we tell ourselves when we think we have failed. “Our motivation must not have been big enough. We just weren’t disciplined enough.”
This is all a lie. Okay, maybe it’s not all a lie. We do need motivation and discipline to help form habits. The problem is that we struggle with them. We confuse them with each other.
1a :the act or process of motivating
b: the condition of being motivated
2: a motivating force, stimulus, or influence
First, let’s take a look at motivation. Motivation is often overhyped. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing. Motivation is kind of your “why.” It can be the reason that you read every day or choose to eat food that nourishes you. People think that there is going to be one impactful moment or feeling that is going to jump start their motivation to do or not do something. The reality is that motivation comes and goes. It fluctuates depending on the circumstance. It is not some static thing that will provide you with the push to follow through on all your goals every single day. It is important to recognize that you might be able to rely on intrinsic motivation or you might be forced to rely on extrinsic motivation. Use both. What worked before will not always work.
When we look to others, especially on social media, we may see that they are motivated. Or so we think. Just look at them, getting up every morning to go for a run. They have so much motivation. And maybe they do. Or maybe not. They may have been doing it for so long that what once was hard or even required discipline was a habit.
1a: control gained by enforcing obedience or order
b: orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
c: Self Control
Discipline is the stage just before habit. It takes discipline to develop a habit. It’s when we are forcing ourselves to do something we either don’t want to do or something that doesn’t feel natural. It requires a thought process. You can’t always rely on natural motivation or discipline so you need to create your own.
If you’re confused, that’s okay. It’s a little confusing! Here are the basics: If you want to set a goal you will need to do certain tasks to reach that goal. Oftentimes a goal will be more easily achieved if those tasks become habits. A habit doesn’t just grow by itself. You may need to identify your why (that’s a whole other discussion). That can be great intrinsic motivation. It might do the trick for you. If it does that’s fantastic. You can use that intrinsic motivation to move into discipline. As the motivation continues you will be able to combine it with order and pattern that makes up discipline. If you stick with discipline long enough you will get into a habit. The only problem in this perfect plan is if intrinsic motivation doesn’t motivate you.
That’s when you need to look out for and find external motivation. That’s different for everyone. Maybe it’s sleeping in on Sunday if you get up early every day of the week. Maybe it’s treating yourself to coffee with extra creamer when you sit down and plan your monthly budget.
The point of this discussion is that there is no one size fits all to motivation and discipline. The fact that we tell ourselves there is only perpetuates this lie of failure, when in reality we don’t even set ourselves up to succeed. Go out there and set yourself up for success!