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When you decide to change, you will need help along your journey. You can find this help from extrinsic motivation or through self-discipline. I know people who listen to motivational speeches every day. In contrast, I know people who do not believe in motivational speeches, and both are successful. Therefore, the question is which is better, motivation or self-discipline?
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Motivation from other people is short-term. It is like eating a candy bar for energy. The sugar will get you started, but it will not sustain you. Listening to a good motivational speech will get your adrenaline pumping. You feel like you can conquer the world.
Listening to motivational speeches over time will produce less adrenaline, and the impact the speech has on you is not as powerful. You might find that after the speech is over, you quickly lose the energy it gave you. In the short term, a motivational speech will have you believe. Over the long term, you can lose that belief. A motivational speech does not build faith.
Self-discipline is long-term, and you will find that it will sustain your efforts towards accomplishing your goals. If motivation is like a candy bar, self-discipline is the healthy food that gives you energy all day. It is doing those activities you know you are supposed to be doing.
Self-discipline does not wear down or fade. It does not affect producing adrenaline. Self-discipline will still give you that feeling that you can conquer the world only not through chemistry. That feeling comes through belief in yourself. Self-discipline conquers fears and doubts. It stretches your comfort zone and turns belief into faith.
Which is better, motivation or self-discipline? The answer is both. You would not want to rely on extrinsic motivation alone, but a good speech is a great way to start your day. Think of it as a cup of coffee. It will get you going in the morning, but the effect will wear off over time. If you are self-disciplined, you will create your motivation.
Gro Jordalen from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences studied the correlation between motivation and self-discipline in athletes. She determined that elite athletes rely on both. Her studies showed that strong self-discipline influences how motivated you are. She also found that extrinsic motivation will lead to higher burnout rates.
In short, motivation will get you going, but you will need self-discipline to accomplish your goals. Developing self-discipline is necessary for your journey to change. It is great to hear someone tell you that you can become a different person. It is only through the development of self-discipline that the change will happen. To be successful, both motivation and self-discipline are needed.
How can you develop self-discipline? Keeping things simple and taking baby steps. When I was younger and wanted to get back in shape, I would listen to a motivational song and get fired up. I would then take off running at a hard pace. I would not last long at that pace and would soon be struggling. The extrinsic motivation of the song had faded. I tried to do too much too soon. Eventually, I learned to take baby steps.
Deciding to become a different person is a huge change. Our brains are wired to prevent such changes, and you will incur resistance. Therefore, don’t try to make a big change all at once. Change small things about your routine. Wake up a half-hour earlier than normal instead of three hours earlier. Plan out your day instead of trying to plan out the entire month. Make little stretches in your comfort zone.
Making small changes to your daily routine will lead to big changes to your lifestyle over time. This time next year you will be a completely different person and not even realize how you got there. A little self-analysis will show how these little changes developed your self-discipline. You are now a truly motivated person.