Its 5:45 am. I've set my alarm nice and early so that I'll have time to get in a morning run before I face my day. The night before I watched a Cross Fit documentary on Netflix and decided I need to take my fitness to the next level. The problem arises 3 days later when I'm back at Tim Horton's downing an ice cap and doughnut for breakfast instead of running. What the hell happened to my fitness goals? Why is my fitness regime so short lived? I decided to look for answers.
I realized that I have been relying much too heavily on motivation instead of self-discipline. The trouble with motivation is that it's constantly fleeting, it's shelf life is extremely short.
So whats the difference between motivation and self-discipline? Well, a lot. Motivation is feeling based while self-discipline circumvents emotions and does what it has to do based on logic.
When I threw myself out of bed at 5:45 am to the soundtrack to Rocky, I was doing so out of the excitement (feeling) of watching those cross fit dudes demolish physical challenges with ease. I want that too and I was excited. But days later the excitement has worn off, I'm getting sick of the Rocky theme song and the Eye of the Tiger just isn't doing it anymore. I want to sleep.
What I lack is self discipline. With self discipline, it doesn't matter how you feel, you do what you set out to do regardless of your emotional state. Waiting for the right emotional state to accomplish a task is the epicentre for procrastination.
The very idea that we need to be in the mood for each task we do is not a good way to approach a goal-oriented life.
“Only the disciplined are truly free. The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites and passions.” Stephen Covey
The most successful riders I know possess a high degree self-discipline. They are so focused on their goals that they are able to suppress their emotional state to the grandeur purpose of achieving their desired outcomes. Day in and day out they ride with purpose, whether they feel like it or not, knowing they will feel good after accomplishing their daily rides.
When you rely on motivation your relying on feeling good before setting about accomplishing a set of tasks while with discipline you rely on the fact that you know you'll feel good after your tasks have been completed.
But lets not totally discredit motivation here as it can be an extremely powerful tool. According to Dr.Gro Joradalen, in her study, "Development of excellence in young Norwegian athletes: the interaction between motivation and self regulation", she found that motivational and cognitive processes are interrelated and greatly influence one another.
Jordanlen found that over periods of 5 weeks of heavy training, national level athleses needed to rely heavily on self discipline. But during longer periods of heavy training, for those over 10 weeks long, motivation became a factor in determining how self disciplined you could become.
The takeaway is to be clear on your goals. Deciding ahead of time what it is you truly want to accomplish, realizing there are going to be many days when you have to rely on pure self discipline to work towards those goals. But the closer you work towards your goals, the more you can influence bouts of motivation to keep you in the game long term. Stay focused, your dreams await!