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Motivation & Discipline: Can't Have One without the Other

Last week, we discussed 3 challenges to effective time management, making a schedule, sticking to your schedule, and identifying time wasters. But for many of us it is the getting started that is our obstacle. Even when we have read all of the articles, listened to all the podcasts, visited all the therapists and coaches, and we still may not make one move towards managing time so that we can accomplish the goals that we say are important to us. Some people say, we lack motivation to get it done, and that we absolutely have to have motivation. Others say we lack discipline and that without discipline, motivation is pointless. What do you think is lacking and results in so many of us not taking steps forward? Is it the motivation that is lacking, or is it the discipline?

When it comes to time management and setting goals, which is more important?

  • Motivation

  • Discipline

  • Both are equally important

It can be a matter of semantics I suppose when trying to decide which is more important, motivation or discipline. When I sat down to do the research to answer the above poll question, I couldn't help but to be struck by the theme song of the hit 90s show "Married with Children."

Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage,

Go together like a horse and carriage,

This I tell ya brother, you can't have one without the other.

Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage,

It's an institute you can't disparage,

Ask the local gentry, and they will say is element'ry.

Try, try, try to separate them,

It's an illusion.

Try, try, try and you will only come

to this conclusion.

Love and Marriage

Sammy Cohen & Jimmy Van Heusen

The Power of Motivation:

Motivation is the reason we behave or act in a certain way. It is what we need to be inspired and make changes. Another way to view it, motivation is the fuel that ignites the fire within us. With it, we can take action, dream big, and set ambitious goals. We often know exactly when we are motivated. We can feel it. The surge of enthusiasm. The swell of passion. Motivation is the spark that propels us to start our journey, and it keeps us going when challenges arise because it helps make tasks feel less burdensome.

What is it that motivates you? Have you ever taken time to reflect on this question? Do you focus on things that benefit your health? Do you focus on things that improve your energy level? Do you focus on things that improve your confidence? Do you make changes for you because you want to? Or is there some other motivating factor like material things or social acceptance? Psychologists have long separated motivation into two different types or kinds (intrinsic and extrinsic).

Intrinsic motivation is a desire that comes from within us. It comes from a desire to be better at specific activities. It intertwines itself with the essence of our personal identity. How so? Mainly because intrinsic motivation is fueled by our inner interests and values. We do things for the sheer enjoyment. The behavior itself is the reward. Intrinsic motivators can include things such as completing a morning workout routine, writing in a gratitude journal, or completing a puzzle simply because it feels good.

Extrinsic motivation is inspired by outside forces and includes things like a monetary bonus or pay raise at work if we hit specific key targets; competing in sporting competitions for trophies; coming into work on time, so we don’t get reprimanded by the manager; or losing weight so we can look better in our clothes. Basically, when we are extrinsically motivated, we do things not necessarily because we enjoy them or find them rewarding, but more so because we want to earn something in return or avoid unpleasant consequences.

The Role of Discipline:

While motivation sets us in motion, it is discipline that keeps us on course. Extrinsic motivation is time limited and unfortunately wears off. This is often because we are a mass of competing short term interests. What captures our attention and motivates us this week may not do so next week, next month, the next few months, or even next year. This is where discipline comes in to play. Discipline is the steady hand that guides us through the ups and downs of our journey. When we speak of discipline here, we mean training ourselves to behave and work in a controlled and regular way or building healthy habits. It means staying committed to tasks even when the initial motivation wanes. It means resisting distractions that threaten to derail our progress.

Discipline builds consistency, which is essential for effective time management and goal setting. It instills habits that become second nature, enabling us to make continuous progress even in the absence of intense motivation. When we practice discipline, we learn the art of self-control and delayed gratification, which are vital traits for achieving long-term success.

Like a Horse and Carriage:

You ever watched one of those nature shows about whales and see little creatures attached on the body of the whale? These creatures are called barnacles. The relationship between the two is quite interesting. Barnacles attach themselves to the skin of whales, gaining a place to settle and access food particles from passing water. The whales, on the other hand, are largely unaffected by the barnacles. This is a type of symbiotic relationship. I think the same can be said of motivation and discipline; it's a type of symbiotic relationship. Motivation gets us started, but discipline ensures that we follow through.

You Can't Have One Without the Other:

While both motivation and discipline are crucial, finding the right balance is key. Relying solely on motivation can be risky, as it fluctuates and may not always be present when we need it most. For instance, when setting a goal to improve physical fitness, motivation may lead us to join a gym and set a workout routine. However, discipline is what keeps us going to the gym regularly, especially on days when we lack the initial excitement. Or we can look at goals on time management to help see the importance and interplay between motivation and discipline. When managing time efficiently, motivation can help us prioritize tasks based on their importance and align them with our long-term objectives. Discipline comes into play as we allocate specific time blocks for focused work, avoid procrastination, and maintain a balanced schedule. On the other hand, excessive discipline without motivation can lead to a lack of fulfillment or even burnout. Try as we might, it is an illusion to try to separate the two.

Thank you for making it until the end. What conclusion have you drawn? Do you think that discipline trumps motivation? After voting in the poll above, please feel free to expound on your position in the comments below. I began this journey thinking discipline over motivation no matter what. Discipline bridges the gap between fluctuating motivation levels. It acts as a stabilizing force that helps individuals stay focused and committed to their goals even when they don't feel motivated. However, now that we are at the close of this article, I will say though discipline has a slight edge, both are important. Much like that carriage that offers the comfort as we drive on our journeys, motivation is the initial spark that drives action and enthusiasm. However, like that sturdy horse propelling us along our journey, discipline is the consistent effort and self-control that keeps us on track. However, for the safest most balanced journey both are essential for achieving long-term success in any endeavor. Now don't go putting the cart before the horse by placing undo pressure on yourself. Please remember as you begin your wellness journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading!

"Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night." ~William Blake

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Jul 30, 2023

I voted Discipline with 5 reasons to support my decision

1. Consistency

2. Focus

3. Persistence

4. Self-control

5. Accountability

Letecia Griffin
Letecia Griffin
Jul 30, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for voting and for sharing your thoughts! I do like the reasons you listed for choosing "Discipline." Thank you again for supporting our growing blog!! 💚

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