Motivation Vs Discipline

Motivation vs Discipline: Mastering the Balance


Let’s have a real talk about something that affects all of us in our daily lives and goal setting – the constant tussle between motivation vs discipline. Most of the time these two words are used pretty interchangeably. How often do you hear someone say ‘oh they’re so motivated to get that dream job’ when talking about someone that has been working their butt off for years to achieve that goal. Sure, they’re probably motivated a lot of the time, but it’s discipline that will get stuff done behind the scenes and take you to where you really want to go, even when you’re not feeling it in the moment. 

Motivation – we’ve all felt it right? That rush when you’re fired up about a new idea or a goal you want to achieve. It’s great when it’s around, giving you a kick to start things off. But, if you’re anything like me, you know it’s not always reliable. It can be here one day and gone the next – a bit like waiting for a sunny day here in the UK!

Then there’s discipline. The less glamorous, more real side. Discipline is what keeps you going when the initial buzz of motivation has fizzled out. It’s about sticking to the plan come rain or shine. Not always easy, but definitely the backbone of getting things done.

In this post, I’ll explore how each of these plays a vital role in our lives – in goal setting, building habits, and self control – how they can sometimes trip us up, and most importantly, how we can harness them to our advantage. Whether you’re aiming to be the next big thing or just want to get a bit more organised, understanding this dynamic can be a total game-changer.

Motivation Vs Discipline

Motivation Vs Discipline: Are you motivated to climb the peak but not disciplined enough to train for it?

Understanding Motivation

Alright, let’s dive into the world of motivation. It’s a bit like that first cup of coffee in the morning – gives you a buzz and gets you moving. But what exactly is it, and why does it matter so much?

What is Motivation Anyway?

Think of motivation as an inner cheerleader, spurring you on to chase your dreams, start a new project, and to get down to the gym on a cold morning. It’s the reason you get excited about things, the ‘why’ behind what you’re doing. Sometimes it comes from within, like a personal desire to improve, and other times it’s sparked by something external, like a comment from a mate or a post you saw on Instagram.

The Two Sides of Motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic

There are two main types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is when you do something because you genuinely enjoy it or find it satisfying – like playing the guitar because it feels great and you love it, not because you want to be the next Ed Sheeran. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is all about doing things for a reward or to avoid a negative outcome – like working extra hours to nab that bonus.

The Role of Motivation in Setting Goals

Here’s the thing about motivation – it’s fantastic for getting you off the starting block. When you set a new goal, it’s often motivation that gives you that initial surge of energy to get cracking. It’s the spark that lights the fire, whether you’re aiming to start a new business, lose weight, or learn a new skill.

The Ups and Downs

But let’s be real for a moment. Motivation can be a bit flaky. It’s like that friend who’s super enthusiastic about making plans but sometimes doesn’t show up. It’s strong one day, and the next, it’s vanished faster than a Friday night takeaway. This is why understanding motivation is crucial. It’s not about always being motivated but knowing how to react when that motivation dips.

So, there you have it – a bit of a lowdown on motivation. It’s powerful, it’s necessary, but it’s also a bit unpredictable. In the next section, we’ll take a look at its more reliable cousin, discipline, and why it’s the unsung hero of actually getting things done.

Understanding Discipline

Now, let’s chat about discipline. Think of it as the sensible mate who reminds you to save money for a rainy day or to take an umbrella when it looks like it might pour. Not always what you want to hear, but often what you need.

What Exactly is Discipline?

Discipline is like your personal set of rules and routines that keep you on track. It’s the voice in your head that says, “Come on, one more gym session won’t hurt,” or “Just finish this chapter before you flick on Netflix.” It’s less about immediate pleasure and more about what’s good for you in the long run.

The Steady Hand of Discipline in Habit Formation

Here’s where discipline really shines – in forming and building habits. Whether it’s getting up early, eating healthier, or sticking to a budget, discipline is the force that helps you stick with these habits, even when the initial excitement has worn off. It’s not always glamorous, but it’s the foundation of long-term success.

Discipline vs. Motivation: The Long Game

Let’s be honest, discipline isn’t as flashy as motivation. You won’t always feel a rush of excitement with discipline. But here’s the kicker – it’s incredibly reliable. Unlike motivation, which can be as unpredictable as a British summer, discipline is your constant. It’s what keeps you moving forward, even when motivation has left the building.

Building Discipline: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Developing discipline is a bit like learning to drive. At first, it’s all a bit awkward and forced, but over time, it becomes second nature. The key is consistency and understanding that it’s okay to have off days. It’s about getting back on track, not beating yourself up.

Enhancing Both Motivation and Discipline

Boosting motivation and discipline isn’t just a lofty goal; it’s something we can actively work on. Let’s look at some straightforward, practical ways to strengthen both.

Tips to Boost Motivation

  1. Set Small Goals:
    • Break your larger objectives into smaller, manageable tasks. This makes your goals less daunting and more achievable.
    • For example, if your goal is to write a book, start by setting a small goal of writing a page or a paragraph each day.
  2. Celebrate Small Wins:
    • Acknowledge and reward yourself for achieving these mini-goals. This could be as simple as taking a short break, enjoying a favorite snack, or sharing your progress with a friend.
    • These celebrations reinforce positive behavior and keep you motivated to pursue further goals.
  3. Seek Inspiration:
    • Surround yourself with inspirational content, be it books, podcasts, or talks that keep your enthusiasm alive.
    • Sometimes, listening to a success story or understanding the struggles of others in achieving their goals can reignite your motivation.
  4. Visualize Success:
    • Spend time visualizing the successful achievement of your goals. This creates a mental image of success, which can be a powerful motivator.
    • Visualization helps in cementing the belief that your goals are attainable and worth the effort.

Strategies to Develop Discipline

  1. Establish Routines:
    • Create a daily routine that includes time for work, exercise, relaxation, and hobbies. Consistency in these activities trains your mind to expect and accept these tasks as part of your day.
    • For instance, a morning routine could involve exercise, meditation, and reviewing your goals for the day.
  2. Consistent Wake-Up Time:
    • As suggested by Andrew Huberman, a regular wake-up time and morning routine not only helps in regulating your body’s internal clock but also instills a sense of discipline.
    • This consistent start to your day can positively impact your mood and energy levels.
  3. Delayed Gratification:
    • Practice delayed gratification by putting off short-term pleasures for long-term gains.
    • This approach reinforces the habit of prioritizing long-term benefits over immediate satisfaction.
  4. Accountability Measures:
    • Set up systems of accountability, such as a commitment to a friend, a progress tracker, or a public declaration of your goals.
    • Being accountable to someone else, or even to yourself, can significantly enhance your discipline.

Balancing Motivation vs Discipline

  • Understanding Your Needs: Some days you might feel more motivation, while on others, motivation will be lacking and keeping up that discipline will be key. Recognize what you need and adjust accordingly.
  • Manage Stress: Keep an eye on your stress levels. High stress can undermine both motivation and discipline. Regular exercise, mindfulness practices, or even a simple walk can be effective in managing stress.

Tools and Resources

When it comes to staying motivated and disciplined, sometimes we all need a little extra help. Thankfully, there are loads of tools and resources out there. From apps that keep you on track to books that inspire and educate, here’s a roundup of some go-to aids that can give you that extra edge.

Must-Have Apps

  1. Habit Trackers (like Streaks): These apps turn habit-forming into a game, rewarding you for consistency and helping track your progress.
  2. Productivity Planners (like Todoist or Trello): These tools are brilliant for organizing tasks, setting deadlines, and keeping on top of your to-do list.
  3. Mindfulness Apps (like Headspace or Calm): Great for managing stress and keeping your mind focused and calm, which is crucial for both motivation and discipline.

Inspirational Books

  1. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear: This book is a goldmine for anyone looking at building habits and breaking bad ones.
  2. “Drive” by Daniel H. Pink: Looking into what really motivates us, packed with fascinating insights.
  3. “Can’t Hurt Me’ by David Goggins: An amazing autobiographical take on overcoming massive challenges and using discipline to achieve your true potential.

Podcasts for a Motivational Boost

  1. The Tim Ferriss Show: Ferriss dissects the routines and habits of top performers, giving you a peek into how disciplined minds operate.
  2. The Tony Robbins Podcast: For a mix of motivation and practical strategies to improve all areas of your life.
  3. “The Daily Stoic” with Ryan Holiday: Offers daily bites of wisdom about life, discipline, and perseverance.

YouTube Channels

  1. Matt D’Avella: He talks about minimalism, habits, and productivity, all in a super-relatable way.
  2. TED Talks: Always a go-to for a burst of inspiration and ideas from a variety of fields.

Online Communities

  1. Reddit communities like r/GetMotivated or r/Productivity: These forums are great for sharing tips, seeking advice, and finding encouragement from others on the same journey.

Remember, while these tools and resources are incredibly useful, they’re most effective when used in a way that suits your personal style and goals. Feel free to experiment and find what works best for you. 


Remember, motivation is that initial spark, the thing that gets us excited and eager to start. Discipline, on the other hand, is the steady force that keeps us going, ensuring we stick to our plans even when the initial buzz has worn off. Together, they’re a formidable duo.

The key takeaway? Motivation vs discipline – It’s not about choosing one over the other. It’s about recognising that they both have a big roll to play in your life – let the motivation be the driver when it hits you, but don’t rely in it on its own to drive you towards your goals – for that you need self discipline to get you through the tougher times, to remind you to keep pushing towards your goals when you want to stop.

Don’t be disheartened if you find yourself struggling with one or the other at times – it’s all part of the process. Use the tools and resources we discussed, and remember, the journey is as important as the destination.

As we wrap up, I want to encourage you to keep experimenting, find what works for you, and never stop striving for a balance between motivation and discipline. Here’s to achieving our goals and making our dreams a reality.