Motivation vs Self-Discipline

“Motivation is BS. Self disciple is everything.” ~Author unknown

I recently read this statement and had to ponder it for a moment. A huge part of being a Personal Trainer/Coach is encouraging and motivating people. Whether it be positive feedback on their training and nutrition habits or a high five for showing up and bringing their A-game, the list could go on for a while, but it’s what we do. I also simply love giving affirmation and encouragement to my clients. My #1 Love Language is Words of Affirmation so clearly I am wired to affirm others as this is also how I want to receive love.

However… once I dove a little deeper and read the definition of these two words I was able to distinctly see the difference.

MOTIVATION is defined as the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

SELF DISCIPLINE is defined as the ability to control one's feelings and overcome one's weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.

The biggest difference between the two is one’s desire versus one’s ability. In the grand scheme of life, there is nothing wrong with offering words of encouragement and motivation; however, I cannot be the sole person to get clients to reach their goals. There must be an internal self-discipline that carries one through in the good and hard times.

For example,
When we don’t want to show up to train,
When we want to binge,
When we want to go on a bender,
When we let that person back in our life because it feels good momentarily…
We have to draw the line and hone the self-discipline that is deep inside our hearts. The desire to do something is fleeting, but the ability to overcome weakness is permanent.

self discipline

Thankfully, I was taught self-discipline at a young age. I can vividly remember days I did not want to get up at ass-crack of dawn to go to cross country practice, or putting off completing my thesis to the final days, or getting up day after day to go to a corporate job I hated, but self-discipline was so engrained in my being that I knew I had no choice to not go to practice because then I would let my teammates down as well as not be the best athlete I could be that season. I knew I had to finish my thesis to complete my Masters program so it didn’t matter what excuses I made or how much my professor motivated me to get it done, I had to dig deep within and make it happen. I knew I had no choice to not show up to my corporate job or I would be sleeping in my car with zero money and going no where fast. In retrospect, that job taught me so many things and especially self-discipline. Would I ever go back to that life, HELL NO, but I am thankful for the experience.

My dad used to say, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” In other words, I can give you all the love, encouragement, affirmation, and motivation your heart desires, because I love doing so and if it is the right setting. However, at the end of the day, it comes down to what you really want and the ability to pursue it regardless of the temptations that come your way.

Recognize your triggers and practice self-discipline daily, because in the end you will see positive change.