Motivation and discipline. You’ve probably read something about this on an inspirational Instagram post or even heard it mentioned on “With That Being Said” but have you REALLY thought about it? Have you found the difference?
Because drawing the line between the two, and thinking about how they work their own and together, can help shift the way we think and the way we work.
Let’s start with a little vocabulary lesson. According to the interwebs, the definitions are…
- Discipline: (v) To train by instruction and exercise; drill.
- Motivation: (n) The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.
If you read nothing else in this blog, read this…
“Motivation only exists as a noun. But discipline has a verb form. In other words, discipline is something you do, and choose to do; motivation is a thing that can come and go, which you cannot choose to do or control.
Furthermore: you are never ‘motivated’ to be more disciplined. Discipline is useless if it’s not tied to the actions you want to be disciplined with.”
And this time of year, knowing the difference between the two is crucial. This time of year is when we find ourselves setting big goals for January, or waiting until Monday. In reality, we’re procrastinating. Waiting for motivation to strike and then getting disappointed mid-April when the motivation is gone and you never developed the discipline to make a habit stick.
So when you’re looking to change something in your life:
- Let motivation inspire you, but don’t expect it to stick around.
- Focus on building disciplined actions around that new thing.
- Get specific in what “discipline” will look like for your specific goal.
Whenever we talk about setting new goals, we have to include our “why”. Why you have decided to do something is your motivation. And let’s be clear, motivation is necessary to give you the push you need to get started.
The problem is that the initial push and excitement start to wear off once you are faced with challenges, road blocks, or setbacks. Motivation has an expiration date, so to speak. We can’t decide when is shows up or coerce it into sticking around longer than it wants to.
It feels incredible to have the motivation to make a huge change, but change is hard. When it starts to feel hard, the excitement starts to wane. And that excitement will usually wear off altogether before you can come up with a plan to execute your brilliant idea.
This is where discipline and creating habits comes in to save the day.
Humans love operating on auto-pilot. When was the last time you had to stop and think slowly about the act of brushing your teeth? The more you think about it, the more things you can probably list that you don’t even consciously think about everyday.
If there’s something in your life you want to change, you have to use your newfound motivation to decide on a new action you’re going to take every single day that will help you to change that thing. You have to lay the groundwork for habit change and what that will look like; use motivation to create discipline. That way when the motivation goes, the discipline stays.
And despite the size of the goal, it’s probably going to take a lot of little steps to get to it.
Don’t set yourself up for failure.
Make your actions small and do-able. I like to call them “bite-sized chunks”. The first action might even be so small, it seems ridiculous. Here’s an example I found:
“If your goal is to start going to the gym, you can literally start with driving to the gym, parking, walking in and out, and leaving.
That’s the habit of ‘going to the gym.’
Do it for 2 weeks, consistently, every day.
Before long, you’ll find yourself feeling silly for taking the time to go to the gym just to walk in and out. So maybe you begin staying for a little bit. Maybe you walk on a treadmill for a few minutes. Maybe you start thinking you may as well get a workout in if you’re going to the trouble of being there.
By setting the bar extremely low, you’re not putting much risk of failing on yourself. You didn’t set any weight lifting record goals. You don’t need to run a certain number of miles to feel like you ‘succeeded.’
Once we’ve achieved that small habit change, we want to add onto it… just like how this example grew. Why not stay for a bit? Why not try that weight machine? Why not take the time to use the gym, since you’re there anyway?”
Research varies a bit, but it seems to take around 21 days to form a new habit.
66 days for that behavior to become automatic.
When setting new habit goals, keep this in mind. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Your brain is working its hardest to lay those new groundwork and make that habit automatic. But you should let it do what it’s doing without giving it too much to deal with at once — so stick to one new habit at a time.
Get inspired. Use motivation. Form habits. Create discipline. Don’t worry about when motivation will leave you… because at some point, it inevitably will.
Whether you are just starting your fitness journey or a seasoned pro looking for something new, we’d love to meet you! And guess what? Your first class is on us. Click HERE to schedule your FREE Jumpstart Class and let us show you what makes Roux Fitness different!