Motivation is an inner force based on inspiration and your own internal and external reasoning. Motivation can help you focus on your goals. This can be influenced or kick-started by a variety of factors: your own dreams or those of your loved ones, or in seeking out the pleasure derived from achieving a set goal. Motivation is the reason why you are attempting to achieve a certain goal.

Motivation is the “why to do”.  It’s your little engine that says you can, when the rest of you says you can’t. It’s also the same force that can help you move mountains, on a good day. Motivation is a life-long skill that you can improve through self-awareness and proven strategies.  The better you know your levers, the more effective you’ll be at getting the results you want in your life.


Discipline differs from individual to individual. While motivation and discipline directly complement each other, they don’t always work hand in hand. Discipline could be defined loosely as the strategy or route you follow regularly in order to achieve your goals. Discipline is often talken about to be the bridge between goals and accomplishment.

An example of the difference between the two could be a student preparing for an exam. The reason they are preparing for the exam is that they dream of becoming a scientist. This would be their motivation for success in the exam. The student then commits to a schedule of study – for example, five hours a day – until the exam. This would be the discipline that the student was following.

Discipline is “what to do”. Self-discipline is the ability to correct your behavior. Self-discipline is simply correcting or regulating your behavior for the sake of improvement. Will is based on thinking and reason to create action – motivation is more from emotion. It helps you get back on your course when you fall off your path. It helps you do the right thing in the moment for your long-term benefit, when you may want to do something else.

Use both

Motivation and discipline works best together. Motivation can be your initial inspiration. When you lose your initial inspiration, self-discipline can help keep you going. To commit to self-discipline, it’s your initial motivation that says it’s worth it.  

Interestingly, according to a study on athletes, we see that strong self-discipline influences the motivation of people. Being disciplined can be more draining if motivation is based on external factors, and you are much more likely to end up burned out and exhausted by your task. Athletes are often driven by intrinsic motivation, meaning it is easier for them to resist temptations that would negatively affect their daily schedule. Keeping discipline in check can influence your motivation. In this way, strong discipline has a secondary value of helping you stay on course.

Becoming motivated is nowhere near as challenging as becoming disciplined. With a little extra effort, developing discipline to use in conjunction with motivation is a key to upward success in any goal-oriented scenario. The human brain resists abrupt changes, so big, sudden change often causes a person to burn out and fail.  


Using both motivation and disciplin is the way to go. But in the end motivation can come and go for some people. Disciplin is the key to stay focused on your goals and it is the most common attribut to have for sucessful people.  

“Use motivation when you have it. When there’s no motivation, rely on your discipline” – Derek Lunsford  

“Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing” – John C Maxwell  

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