Discipline Always Beats Motivation

Photo by  Vern . CC. Changes Made.
Photo by Vern . CC. Changes Made.

We allow ourselves to use not feeling motivated as a reason to not get things done. How often do we tell ourselves, "I just don't feel like doing this today. I just don't feel motivated.” Motivation gets mistaken as a good thing and we even look to the leadership of others who make us feel motivated, but we have all been mislead.

Motivation is a feeling that we allow to take power over our decisions and our actions. Motivation only opens us up to having a new excuse for not getting done what we need to get done.

Motivation is in the hands of others and our environment and from the principles of stoicism we know that we should always put most of our focus on things that we have a high level of control over. Other people can change our emotional state and change whether or not we feel motivated. It doesn’t make sense to allow our performance to be dependent on something that is so fickle. Motivation can be thrown off by what we’ve eaten that morning or by hunger if we haven’t eaten. Motivation makes us think about whether or not we slept enough to be in the right state or if we just need to exercise a little more each week to have the right amount of energy.  Motivation can be destroyed when things go wrong and can make us feel complacent when everything goes right. Motivation is not a friend, it is an enemy.

Every time we rely on motivation or being motivated to get things done we stray further away from the real core abilities that allow us to accomplish.

Why do we need motivation to do the things we are suppose to do? The answer is we don’t. We have just become reliant on it because it feels good without us having done anything at all. For most people motivation precedes action so to be in a motivated state means to feel good despite having not yet done anything at all in some cases. This in itself is a contradiction to a healthy internal system of risk-reward where we reward ourselves for actions we have taken and decisions we have made rather than just feeling good.

A much better friend to the high achiever is discipline. Disciplined is just something that we are. A disciplined person has habits and strategies to ensure that they follow through on their commitments, plans, and intentions despite what happens in the world around them or how they are feeling. They aren’t unreasonable inhuman machines. If their grandmother dies they mourn her loss and they spend time with family, but they achieve anyway. Their world and sense of purpose isn’t tied into whether or not everyone was nice to them today or whether or not they slept perfectly the night before. A disciplined person wakes up everyday and does things because they have decided they need to get done.

In the pursuit of living a happy fulfilled life I think we all should learn to ignore motivation. With a solid amount of clarity about what it is we want to achieve and why those things are important to achieve for us it's much easier to just form habits and strategies that we just execute out of discipline.  We are creatures of habit after all and in this way achievement doesn’t need to be left up to chance or up to others be we can take complete responsibility for our own achievement. 

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