Monday, October 13, 2014

Motivation and Discipline; the difference and how to murder one of them and get away with it.

Motivation and discipline are often confused for the same thing, a general feeling that both words mean either will power or dedication to accomplish a task.  This simply isn't true.   Motivation is like that kid you knew in school; hes got cool shoes and an uncle that will buy him cigarettes; hes got a cool idea that involves a pellet gun and some street lights and man you are so down to go along. When the cops show up, hes the first to bail and leave you holding the bag.

Thats right.  Motivation is an asshole.

Basically, this guy.

The problem with motivation is that its not a constant and often outside of your conscious control.  If you wake up in the morning with a case of fuck everything, everywhere, its unlikely motivation is going to get you into the gym and motivation rarely keeps you from eating the crap you know you shouldn't be eating.  We like motivation though, because motivation is an amazing drug.  Motivation feeds your system dopamine and when that dopamine hits your mesolimbic system, its a natural sort of high that good days and awesome experiences are made of.  We are hard wired to love that feeling to the point that some people become addicted to it.  Dopamine is usually associated with relaxed, or positive energetic experiences.  What we have learned because thanks, neurology  is that dopamine is the body's motivator.  You dont get dopamine because you were motivated to do something, you get dopamine to motivate you to do something.  You get the carrot, or you will most certainly get the stick.

For everyday activities, this may not be a bad arrangement; except for the fact that in order to do something, we generally have to want to do it or we simply wont.  This is America (unless you are reading this from another country, in which case, stand by for a stereotype) we do what we want because freedom, eagles, guns and Teddy Roosevelt.  But what motivates you to be motivated?


I simply cannot rely on Motivation to show up to work on time.  He was cool in high school (except for that pellet gun thing) but now hes a slacker that only has this job because I cant fire him.  Motivation gets all the credit because he still looks good in running shorts and has such a positive attitude about life...when he bothers to show up at all. Discipline is what we rely on to make things happen  to say fuck your feelings, get up and do it.  Its what drags our ass out of bed most mornings, so you are familiar with it in the same way you may understand gravity, or what Pitbull is saying. But Discipline is more than the story about that one time something was hard and you did it anyway.  Every day should have a story like that because that's what life is about, doing the hard shit to live instead of taking the easy route just to exist. Embracing discipline isnt a conscious choice to accept it, because once you have discipline you dont have much choice but to listen to whatever it screams in your ear when Motivation is hiding in the break room drinking vodka out of a coffee mug.

Getting discipline is the hard part because discipline really doesnt have time for your excuses and isnt willing to help you if you haven't accepted hard work into your heart.  Some people will go their whole life without ever feeling the tough love discipline offers and that it pretty sad because discipline is what success is made of.  Some people dont like what discipline has to offer and that's fine, they aren't reading this, you are and either Discipline is nodding over your shoulder or Motivation is telling you to Google some cat videos, we can do this later.

Motivation is sometimes out of our hands; we get talked into a 5K run for charity or the fact that your pants dont fit like they used to motivate you to join the gym.  It may be fleeting, or we reach an arbitrary goal and then slack off again.  When we have discipline, we dont need motivation and our goal becomes long term and much more meaningful..Even your diet looks better with discipline because that ice cream, Whopper or Bacon and mac and Cheese pie becomes a treat, not just Tuesday. 

In case you didnt know, this does exist.
So how do you get discipline on your side?  You start small because if you dont have it right now, you cant handle it all at once.  Start small but push hard.  Giving 100% for 15 minutes is much better than finding the most comfortable machine in the gym to facebook on of an hour.  Trim your diet up by weeding out what you want to eat and taking in what you need to eat.  Talk with people who are familiar with disciple and see if how they got to where they are is going to work for you.  Be ready for set backs, be ready to not want to do it but do it anyway because its not about today, its about every day.  Make fast food a reward, not a normal event.  Celebrate your victories because they are what keeps Discipline happy.

When you get to the point that you are putting in an hour at the gym 5, maybe 6 days a week without much thought to the time you could be spending on the couch, you have found discipline and when you decide to give yourself a treat and pick up a Super Baja Taco or milkshake on the way home, Motivations deadbeat ass will just be waking up, thinking about doing something tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. I love this so much. I read it every day to help give me that extra push to go out and better myself.