When it’s time to get something done there two ways to kick yourself into gear.
But, how different are they? And, which is better, discipline or motivation?
Discipline vs. Motivation
As mentioned by Miranda Marquit in a previous Due article, “One of the first things to realize is that self-discipline is different from self-motivation. You might be able to do the things you’re supposed to, but that’s not the same thing as being motivated to a higher purpose, or having the self-motivation to keep going when your willpower is depleted.
“Willpower has been recognized as a limited resource — something that you can ‘use up.’ If you repeatedly resist temptation or force yourself into something, eventually you wear down and it becomes harder and harder.”
Miranda adds, “If you really want to keep going, you need that self-motivation that helps sustain you when the decision fatigue sets in and your willpower runs low.”
However, retired Top Gun pilot David Burke, who spent 23 years as an elite fighter pilot, argues that motivation is meaningless.
“In Hollywood, the home team wins the game thanks to the coach’s inspirational speech, and the troops hold the line thanks to the general’s heroic sermon,” writes Burke for Business Insider.
“In real life, when fear, fatigue, and doubt set in, no speech can provide the motivation you need to keep going. The only thing you and your team can rely on is discipline.”
Burke adds, “Discipline is cherished in the Marine Corps. We cultivate it in everything we do, from how we fight to how we dress, cut our hair, and clean our rooms.”
Since he’s retired, Burke now sees “that discipline also provides a template for what businesses should identify and develop in their employees. More than any other quality, discipline is what drives a person to succeed when faced with adversity. And that’s what the real world is: adversity.”
Discipline, Burke continues, is what “drives you to do the work you don’t enjoy, but is required. Discipline conquers fear. Discipline keeps you going when your curiosity, motivation, and excitement evaporate.”
While motivation is a good quality to possess, it’s not as important as motivation, concludes Burke.
Jim Rohn, who’s considered to be America’s Foremost Business Philosopher, agrees with Burke.
“It takes consistent self-discipline to master the art of setting goals, time management, leadership, parenting and relationships. If we don’t make consistent self-discipline part of our daily lives, the results we seek will be sporadic and elusive.”
“It takes a consistent effort to truly manage our valuable time. Without it, we’ll be consistently frustrated. Our time will be eaten up by others whose demands are stronger than our own,” writes Rohn.
“It takes discipline to conquer the nagging voices in our minds: the fear of failure, the fear of success, the fear of poverty, the fear of a broken heart. It takes discipline to keep trying when that nagging voice within us brings up the possibility of failure.”
“It takes discipline to admit our errors and recognize our limitations,” adds Rohn. “The voice of the human ego speaks to all of us.”
Additionally, “that voice tells us to magnify our value or accomplishments beyond our actual results. It leads us to exaggerate, to not be totally honest. It takes discipline to be totally honest, both with ourselves and with others.”
Rohn also says that it takes discipline to change a habit and to plan.
Personally, I’ve also found that being disciplined is one of the best ways to remain productive. This is because it increases self-confidence, patience, and teaches you how to overcome failure. Msst importantly, self-discipline ensures that you’re not driven by impulse.
You Still Need Both
However, when Gro Jordalen from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences studied the correlation between motivation and self-discipline in athletes, she determined that these elite athletes rely on both.
Jordalen studied national level athletes between 16 and 20 years old and determined that in the short term, they need to be very disciplined to stay motivated. For the long term, being motivated makes it easier to remain disciplined.
“These are new and exciting findings. We used to regard self-discipline as a tool to become more motivated. Now, we see that strong self-discipline influences how motivated the athletes are,” Jordalen says.
Jordalen also found that the athletes were more prone to burn out if they were driven by extrinsic motivation.
“Showing restraint and being disciplined can be more draining if motivation is fueled by extrinsic factors. This would increase the risk of ending up feeling exhausted and being burned out. If the athletes are driven by intrinsic motivation, it is easier to resist things that would negatively affect their daily schedule. This way, the athletes keep their training in check,” says Jordalen.
In my experience, motivation is what’s needed to get up-and-running. But, discipline is needed to stay on the right course.
In short, you need both factors to be successful.
Tips of Developing Self-Discipline
Personally, learning how to become self-motivated wasn’t as challenging as developing self-discipline. I’m not exactly sure why. But, it’s definitely been more challenging for me.
Of course, with a little extra effort, I’ve been able to successfully develop self-discipline. This, when used in conjunction with motivation, has made me even more successful. And, you too can harness the power of discipline by doing the following.
Take baby steps.
This was perfectly explained in an article over at Wisdomination.
“Your brain resists abrupt changes. If you motivate yourself to a titanic “Starting tomorrow, I’m a new person” effort, you’ll only burn out and revert. Big and sudden just doesn’t work, slow and steady does it. It’s the yo-yo effect of discipline. You want to surf the edge of your comfort zone, which is the only sustainable attitude.
When you progress in baby steps, you will find yourself a new person a year hence, not knowing precisely when or how it happened.
The trick here is to make a small change and let your brain accept it as the new baseline.This will make the next step easier, because the baseline moved. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Because you’re surfing, which means the wave is moving forward beneath you. Cool stuff.
What I’m gonna say now may sound banal, but it really isn’t: Big things are composed of small things. Small changes that you stick to and follow every day add up to surprisingly massive results.”
For example, if you spend five minutes every day organizing your office, you’ll quickly notice how more productive you’ll be because it’s clean and organized. If you start taking the stairs instead of the elevator, those small calories burned will add-up to lost pounds – and a boost of energy as well.
Since you only have so many hours in a day, along with a limited amount of energy, you need to start prioritizing. This means completing your most important tasks before moving on to something else.
Learn from past mistakes.
Do you know what separates those with strong self-discipline from those who don’t? Those with internal discipline have learned from their past mistakes. This not only ensures that they won’t repeat the same mistakes, it also improves your discipline.
For example, if you went through a bankruptcy with your previous business, you may be better suited to handle it again. I’m not saying you will, I’m merely pointing out that you survived it the first and now you know what to do to overcome this challenge based on your past experience.
Take frequent breaks.
It definitely takes discipline to create and stick to a routine. For instance, I have a strict morning routine where I wake-up around 5 a.m. This allows me to plan my day, exercise, and catch-up on things like my emails, the news, or book I’ve been reading.
At the same time, self-discipline is also means that that you schedule frequent breaks throughout the day. You need this time to recharge and refocus so that you can focus on the rest of your day.
Practice good habits.
Those who are disciplined have good, daily habits.
They’ll skip that burger for a salad. They’ll leave a party early so that they can get a good night’s sleep. They’ll make the time to fit-in a workout.
Developing good habits is no easy task. But, it keeps you mentally, emotionally, and physically in shape.