The difference between motivation and discipline


Let's get a bit more philosophical in this post. After all, if you are serious about getting healthy then you are going to run onto some road blocks. I think that in order to change, you need to have a clear understanding of the underlying psychology and the science of change. The journey is a long one and it's easy to fail, or at least have a set back or ten.  One thing I found was that some serious self reflection and self understanding and especially self compassion really help. 


Motivation is literally the desire to do things. We are motivated to do things every day. It's what get's us out of bed in the morning, it can make the difference between success and failure, after all, if we aren't motivated to do something we just won't do it. There are two types of motivation, internal and external, both with implications on our lives.

External motivation is related to factors outside ourselves. This could be things like a visit to the doctor and being diagnosed with high blood pressure. This could be our friends and family telling us they are concerned about our weight gain. The key here is that the motivational cues come from outside of ourselves, it comes from our environment. These factors often form the start of our journey and hopefully become internalised. 

Internal motivation, therefore, is from inside ourselves. It could be a disastisfaction with our bodies, a desire to recapture our waning youth or many other things. The point is until we internalise our motivation we won’t see results. After all, as well meaning as people in our lives may be, it’s us who actually have to get off our asses and sweat it out. And it’s hard to change. That’s where discipline comes in.


So if motivation is the desire to do something, then discipline is the resolve to get it done.  In your journey this will count for a lot. There are days when you don’t feel like going to the gym or eating your broccoli. It happens. Discipline is what make you force yourself to do it anyway. Discipline is a behaviour. You either do something or you don’t. There is no grey area. The funny thing is, when it comes to your health, it’s consistency that counts more than anything. So if you exercise more than you don’t you will see results. If you eat healthy, whole foods more than you choose to binge on Ben and Jerry’s, you will begin to look and feel better. Simple right? That word "if" is a very big word.

What do I do if I fail?

First of all, don’t panic. Setbacks are bound to happen. All the time. A busy hectic schedule (hey it's called life), an unexpected injury or illness, a moment of weakness (or 5)  at the buffet line, or 5 days of binge drinking and next thing you know you feel like you have derailed your whole plan. I know. It's happened to me. Remember what I said at the beginning about self compassion. The mistake I made and I am sure many of you do too, is to be too hard on yourself. Don't. Permanent, life altering change is a journey not a destination. You will get there. Think back to your underlying motivations and get back your reslove. Pick up where you left off. It's OK to fail. What truly matters is what happens after you fail. You have a choice either to give up, or start again. Choose the later. 

Remember good health comes at a cost: time, energy, money sacfrifice and hard work. The cost can be even higher later if you don't commit and accept setbacks as they really are. Just set backs. 

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