Motivation vs Self-Discipline

Health & Wellness

When someone gets motivated they usually make changes in their lives.  Most notably, when the New Year rolls around people flock to gyms, change their diets, make budgets, and a implement a wide variety of life changes.  This is great!  I want people to get motivated to make positive changes in their lives.  What I have noticed is the perception that this motivation will last forever.  How many times have you heard, “they gym is going to be crowded this month (January).”  People know that after January, most of the heard will have died off and gone back to their normal life without fitness.  In the first week of January, smoking-cessation companies see about a 40% increase in sales.  People really want to quit smoking.

So what happens in January that makes people with this overwhelming motivation to make life changes stop trying?  Motivation goes away.  You may have experienced this yourself.  Have you ever watched something on TV or read something and thought to yourself, “I can do that” or “I need to make a change”?  I sure have.  Here’s a personal example: I watched the Netflix documentary Froning: The Fittest Man in History and I became more motivated than ever to workout.  I bought new gear, I started a new workout schedule, and I altered my diet in order to pursue a better life physically.  I knew that my motivation would eventually go away and that it would turn into something that felt too difficult to accomplish. 

Motivation is an Emotion. 

Motivation is the reason we have for starting a change or making a difference.  We need discipline in order to maintain those changes.  Self-discipline is a muscle.  We must work that muscle in order to make it stronger.  I like to think of motivation as the driving factor to start something and self-discipline as the muscle that keeps you going.

“Self-discipline is a muscle. We must work that muscle in order to make it stronger.”

When you start making a change in your life you should understand that eventually that motivation will go away.  Sometimes you will absolutely hate continuing with a life change.  It may seem impossible to not smoke that cigarette, it may feel like you’re going to die during that workout, or you may feel like saving money isn’t really worth it.  Self-discipline will keep you going during these times.  Or should I say, it’s the only change you have.  You will have strengthened this muscle enough to know that you just have to push through.  You will know that it is worth it and you have already seen the positives from these new life changes.  Every time you flex that muscle, it gets stronger.

What to do When Motivation Runs Out

What did I do when my workout motivation ran out?  When my tank felt empty and I felt like I didn’t want to go to the gym, I knew that i had to anyway.  Just understanding the fact that my motivation was gone, but I could rely on my self-discipline was enough for me.  I remember vividly doing a short workout with a group of coworkers and then almost leaving the gym.  I knew I had more work to do and I had already planned out an entire workout.  My mind raced for excuses like, “well I’ve already done this workout, isn’t that enough?”  When I got through the first half of my workout, I asked myself again if I had done enough.  At that moment I thought about how I wanted to make my self-discipline tougher.  I didn’t want to give in to this lack of motivation.  I pushed through that workout and I felt mentally stronger than I had ever felt before.  My motivation pushed me far enough for self-discipline to take over and it was incredible. 

Don’t Be Deterred

The purpose of this post isn’t to deter you from pursing your goals.  The purpose is to prepare you for the inevitable loss of motivation along the way.  When that motivation runs out, you will have the ability to maintain that self-discipline and hang on.  While the ride may not always be easy, it will be worth it.  Keep flexing those muscles.

Check out the post 10 Habits Of Healthy People to find some habits that may help you!


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