Motivation vs Self Discipline

I saw a meme floating around a few weeks ago saying that motivation is great for starting something new, but for keeping at it for the long-term you need self-discipline.

I went for a run this morning. I really, really didn’t want to. Wasn’t in the mood, was tired from a long day yesterday, a little sore from wearing a constricting corset-like garment most of the day…etc. etc. etc. Didn’t wanna do it. But I fucking did it anyway.

These two statements are, obviously, related. In that I had zero motivation to run today but I did it anyway because I have an abundance of self-discipline. And I really do believe that losing weight is highly reliant on motivation – you won’t even start without some motivation, and motivation can definitely see you through the short-term discomforts of the process – motivation to look good for a reunion, or a wedding, or some other finite event.

But I think I’m qualified to say that it’s not going to keep it off for the long-term. Ten-plus years later, the only thing keeping my weight in (what I consider to be) an acceptable range is the self-discipline to keep doing the things necessary to maintain it, day in and day out.

I used to think self-discipline was something you learned as a child through your upbringing. I thought this because I had a pretty harsh upbringing where I was regularly required (forced) to do things I didn’t want to do, against my will. I did them despite my reluctance because I wasn’t given a choice. So I became accustomed to, and learned to accept, the actions of doing things I didn’t want to do on a regular basis.


I have 3 siblings, and they were raised under the same regime. Are they all self-discipline badasses? No. Some are, and some aren’t. So it can’t be a “failing of your upbringing” if you don’t have self-discipline. And since that’s the case, it leads me to think that self-discipline must be either one of two things:

  1. Something you are inherently born with, or…
  2. Something you can learn as an adult.

But…that means that if it is something you can learn as an adult, you would need motivation to start learning it, and self-discipline to continue learning it. What a conundrum!

So I guess what I’m saying is I don’t know why I ended up with a  huge dose of self-discipline. I know I have it and can rely on it to get me through hard or challenging circumstances, and that the level of self-discipline I’ve had has fluctuated over the course of my life in relation to various goals. I think that it is something that works hand-in-hand with motivation in allowing people to succeed at things they may not have previously thought was possible.

And with getting my ass out on the road for a run.


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