By Racheal Bola-Keji
From a young age up until adulthood, the constant drilling and remembrance of motivation is one we can’t escape. I remember being drilled by my teachers, parents and even friends about the power of being motivated and staying motivated. But with age and multiple responsibilities, it’s not always that straightforward.
The back and forth battle between de-motivation and motivation can be one that is often treacherous and repetitive. One that I am way too familiar with. Thus, it is no mystery that in a goal-oriented society, motivation isn’t always reliable.
But why is this?
Mustafa Said, a philosopher explains that :
“Motivation is an unreliable tease and isn’t worth your time. Motivation is fleeting, discipline is reliable. Cultivate discipline and force yourself to do things to better yourself. It isn’t about keeping yourself motivated, it’s about how to train yourself to work without it.”
After coming across the opinions of Mustafa Said, it only seemed right to dig deeper into the meaning and significance of motivation. By dictionary definition, motivation is described as a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.
This is, in fact, the problem that I have acknowledged with motivation, it promises to be the catalyst to success and the driving force needed to achieve our goals.
But what happens when we are having a bad day? What happens when we simply can’t be bothered?
Sometimes motivation just isn’t enough to keep us going but like Said states we need to train ourselves to work without it. This is where discipline comes to save the day.
Discipline over motivation
Discipline and motivation can often be confused, I know that I can often mistaken the two. But there is a clear distinction! Discipline is described as control gained by enforcing obedience or order. A synonym often used beside it is self-control. But unlike motivation, discipline allows us to remain productive despite how we feel.
So, if you are going to take away one thing from this article, remember this: motivation is an emotional stimulus that comes and goes but discipline is the choice to do something and follow through despite an emotional pull.
Allisin Wojtowecz says it best:
“Motivation will fire the engine… at first. Discipline will keep you going when you think it’s out of gas.”
In other words, it is okay to let motivation inspire you at first, but discipline is needed to sustain your ambitions and goals.
Now I know this is easier said than done, but don’t worry, I’ve got some tips that may ease the strain. Here are 2 tips on how to stay disciplined even on the days when you don’t feel motivated.
If you want to remain productive even when you don’t feel motivated, the first tip would be to form habits. Habit formation is the process by which behaviours become automatic, second nature and ingrained in our daily lives.
Think about it, when was the last time you had to deeply ponder about getting out of bed and starting your day. Daily routines such as brushing our teeth and taking a shower have become habitual and second nature, we don’t consciously think about them, we just get them done. This can be the case with our checklists and goals if we remain disciplined enough to complete them.
Practically, this may look like setting time aside (an alarm), creating a to do list, marking deadlines in your calendar, or even having an accountability partner. Yes, I know forming habits is not easy but with discipline, the activities we struggle to complete can become habitual and automatic within our daily routines.
Understand Your Why
Nothing gives a person more drive and inner peace than having a distinct understanding of where they are going. Knowing your why is exactly this, it is all about having a clear image of what you want to achieve and constantly reminding yourself of that end goal.
“Once you understand your why, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and better understand what drives your behaviour. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”
Understanding your why is essential for days when your motivation levels are low.
Having a why has helped me a lot, it gives me a better understanding of what needs to be done and the importance of why I do what I do. Without a why, a person can find themselves dipping in and out of consistency and motivation.
With that being said, if you haven’t already, define your goals : think about what success looks like for you, think about where you want to be in 5 years and walk towards achieving that. Discipline can only keep you going if you know where you are going.
You can do it!
Discipline, alongside purpose and good habits are some of the many ways to live a productive life. I know it sounds like a lot right now but don’t overwhelm yourself. Take one step at a time! And one last tip, don’t give up! This week try and incorporate at least one of the tips mentioned within your daily routine. You can do it!
Let us know if you have any additional tips, we would love to know in the comments below.