Discipline versus Motivation

Discipline is boring. Discipline is not spectacular. Discipline is discrete, silent, hard and annoying.

Motivation is exciting. Motivation is spectacular, shareable, inspiring. Motivation is exhilarating.

Reaching any important goal in your life cannot be done with only one of these approaches, though. You cannot get from a certain level to the next one only with discipline, or only with motivation. Sooner or later, the benefits of a single-handed approach will plateau. Too much discipline and you will lose the taste for life. Too much motivation and you’ll turn into an inspirational quotes junkie.

Reaching a serious goal requires a delicate balance of both. So, let’s see try some mix and match, shall we?

Putting Back The Cool Into Discipline

There is enormous value in small steps. There’s not much coolness, though. Watching someone taking small step after small step is the epitome of boredom. Keeping that steady pace in spite of boredom requires at least 3 things: resistance to ridicule, a willing to delay gratification and positive reinforcement.

I don’t know why, but repetitive tasks and humble attitudes are very frequent candidates for being ridiculed. Look at that poor thing, grinding day in and day out, again and again and again! Pathetic! So, knowing that you will receive a lot of comments like this, a certain resistance to being ridiculed is necessary. For instance, if you start working on your business just 30 minutes every day, expect people to laugh at you. If you do this long enough, for a few years, some will probably invent jokes just to ridicule your pathetic efforts. Hold your ground. Keep doing what you’re doing and build your business one step at a time. Each and every one of these steps will bring the goal closer.

Furthermore, a willing to run “on empty” will also be necessary. If the goal is really big, results will appear later on in the process. So, for a very long while, you will feel like working for nothing. Scratch that, you will actually work for nothing, because there will be no immediate reward. Well, again, don’t give up. That gratification is further away, specifically because it’s something so big and so important. It’s like planting a seed: for a while, nothing will raise from the ground.

Last, but not least, acknowledge and praise every little success that you have. It’s called “positive reinforcement”, and it works wonders. Wether it’s your first client on your new business, or just your first kilo lost after starting to work out, praise yourself for it. Pat yourself on the shoulder and keep moving. Focus on the next step, while knowing you’re on the right path.

Motivation Is The Spark, Not The Fire

Dream boards, motivational posters, positive messages sprinkled around your house, you know the drill. Are these things really working? Well, they do, but not in the way the majority of people is expecting them to work. These tiny balls of sudden energy are very good for starting a longer, steadier process, but they cannot be that process. They simply cannot sustain such a long, consistent effort, because they’re not supposed to. You cannot expect to have results just because you read motivational posters every day. If you read motivational posters all day long, you will get more motivation, but no results.

On the other side, you may have what it takes for sustaining the longer process, you may have determination, patience and discipline, but if you don’t have the sudden drive, the explosive spark that will put things in motion, there will be no fire, there will be no process, there will be no goal reached.

So, motivation should be just a shot of energy you get every once in a while, much like the refreshment you eagerly jump on at marathon checkpoints. For the rest of the time, discipline will do the trick.

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