We all are living in an age nowadays where getting motivation is free. You head to your mobile, surf through some motivating stuff, and watch David Goggigns, Sandeep Maheshwari or whoever you watch. After some minutes, the mind starts to feel energised, the body transcends into a different zone of self-improvement, you feel like a superhero (the Batman in most cases) or top of the world and you start to do grinding. You start to feel good now that you’re getting ahead of everyone around you, no one can stop you. You’re going to rip apart the sky……….
And guess what, before you know it, you don’t want to do it, you get up from that study desk, you stop running (if you went out for a run after that motivation), you pick up the phone once again, for a “break”, usually more than half an hour. And even before completing some decent work, you leave it. You tell your brain, “This can be done later too, right?“
And pretty much, that’s the reality of motivation. It’s temporary.
In this post, I’m going to tell you what’s wrong with motivation, what can you do to use it right, and why discipline is better than motivation. Let’s look at motivation first.
Problem with Motivation!
Motivation is not entirely a bad thing. It’s the force that makes us do something to achieve something we desire. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It causes us to start our engines and make us feel good that we’re being productive.
However, the problem with all of this lies in our brains. See, when we are motivated, or when we see lots of motivational content, we are actually producing a lot of dopamine in our brains. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for motivating us to gain pleasure among many other activities in our brain.
Now, each of us has a baseline dopamine level in our brain. And when we get motivated, watch motivational content, hear motivational music, or anything like that, we increase our dopamine levels more than baseline. Then, our brain goes into a dopamine regulation state to prevent overstimulation by these increased dopamine levels. After this surplus dopamine phase, we experience dopamine levels even lower than baseline levels before returning to our baseline levels. This dopamine deficit makes us feel even worse or demotivated than we felt initially before the peak.
Moreover, during the process of dopamine regulation, our brain tells itself to release less dopamine in the future for the same amount of stimulation. Due to this, we then crave for more dopamine, we indulge in more such activities (we would need more amount of motivation to do something) so that we feel as much “joy” as we did when we did such activity in the same place.
I guess, now you have understood the problem with motivation that even with its initial flames, sparks of energy, and enthusiasm, it’s not something you could rely on to get things done. It’s temporary. Moreover, when we exhaust ourselves of this dopamine, we end up in an even worse state than before. We feel demotivated and then require even more stimulation in order to feel motivated or good.
So, if motivation can’t save you from the failure of not achieving your goals, what will?
Discipline will save you!
See, while motivation is the spark of your flame, discipline is the air which will keep burning your flame.
Motivation will stay with you only during good times like a toxic friend, discipline is like your true friend who will be with you even during the hard times.
Motivation inspires you with ideas and aspirations. Discipline is the sweat and hard work required to turn those inspirations into tangible achievements.
Motivation is the appetizer that whets your appetite and gets you excited. Discipline is the main course, providing the sustained sustenance and nourishment needed for long-term growth.
Motivation serves as the catalyst for change. Discipline is the measured and intentional reaction to that catalyst, shaping the outcomes and results.
Discipline is the habit of practising delayed gratification. It is practising self-control NOW to get something WOW later on. It’s the only sure-shot way through which you can maximise your chances of getting something you want later (You may still not get the results after all the hard work, but that’s life).
Through discipline, you will focus on what’s important. You will be able to set clear priorities. You’ll not be distracted by anything else while you work. You’ll not easily allow yourself to take a break from something just because “you’re not feeling like it”.
But discipline is hard…
Well, whatever endeavour or path you’re on, I’m sure there’s never an easy way to get something. So first of all, acknowledge that getting your goal is not going to be easy (if it is, it shouldn’t be a goal), so will the process of getting it, and so will the feat of achieving discipline in that process.
After you’ve acknowledged and have come to terms with this, let me talk about how you will get yourself disciplined.
How do you achieve discipline?
- Have a strong “Why” for your goals – When you find that why, you’ll notice that you will have more clarity in your decisions, even those involving your daily schedules. You’ll make better decisions about your time. You’ll be easily motivated by your “Why” whenever you want to start working.
- Set daily goals – Daily goal-setting forces you to prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency. This helps in managing time effectively and ensures that critical tasks are addressed first, contributing to overall productivity. Moreover, achieving daily goals provides a sense of accomplishment and motivation. Small victories create positive momentum and strengthen the discipline needed to reach larger, long-term objectives.
- Give yourself scheduled time for relaxation – If you are regularly emphasizing your work and are disciplined about your work, you must also give yourself occasional breaks in the day, with discipline. I know it may sound contrary to what you imagine as a disciplined life. But trust me, you would not like to land in a state of burnout. And if you continually exhaust your willpower reserves of the day, you’ll suddenly land into a phase of no discipline and no motivation. You’ll feel stuck in life if you don’t award yourself for the work you put in.
- Understanding that discipline gives you freedom, not steals you of it – Through discipline, you can save yourself from a lot of wasted time. With this time, you have the freedom to explore something you want to, focus on your mental health or anything you want to do, basically allowing you to realise your full potential aka giving you wings of freedom. You also tend to have freedom over your attention spectrum. With discipline in your toolbox, you’ll find it easier to not give your attention to something or someone if it’s not worth it.
- Learn to forgive yourself – Even if I give you all the worldly knowledge and you are even able to implement it, odds are there are still gonna be some days where work or anything just isn’t possible. So instead of cribbing over that lost time and punishing yourself, realise that you can’t be like a robot. It’s ok to have some days off if conditions are not really good. If you go on to do it even on such days, you’ll most probably be compromising your mental or physical health, which defeats your purpose of having a disciplined life (staying healthy is a part of it too).
See as I said earlier, motivation is not bad. It starts to become bad when you can’t do anything without it. And that’s where discipline comes in the whole conversation. That’s where discipline is better than motivation. It’s reliable. It helps us get results.
With motivation, you become like the rabbit in the Tortoise and Rabbit story. You get ahead initially in your journey towards your goals. But that’s it. Very little or no progress happens after that.
With discipline, you are in a state of steady progress like the tortoise and you are able to finish the complete journey.