Motivation vs. Discipline

Blog Content:

  1. Introduction

  2. What is the difference between motivation and discipline?

  3. What can you do to stay disciplined?

  4. Some more podcast recommendations


I get extremely motivated after seeing a cool video of an athlete performing an amazing feat, such as completing a heavy lift and/or breaking a personal record. It gets me fired up and wanting to do the same. But after weeks of doing a repetitive training routine, that fire dies out. It gets exhausting, sometimes boring because of the repetition, and it’s not as “sexy” as those motivational videos make it out to be. Some days, I just want to chill and hang out, and my desire to train is less than normal. That’s okay. It’s okay to not be “feeling it” all the time. 

This is where we’ll introduce the difference between motivation and discipline. 

What is the difference between motivation and discipline?

There are plenty of podcasts out there that talk about motivation versus discipline (I’ll list a few at the end). Most of them highlight that success is credited to one’s discipline. Motivation is the fire someone has- the adrenaline rush and excitement to reach a goal- and it’s awesome to have, but it’s temporary. Discipline is what keeps someone going, it’s the long-term drive.

Motivational videos get people excited and the audience thrives off of that external motivational source. At the end of the video, people are ready to tackle any roadblocks and accomplish any goal. What about two weeks later, two months later, two years later…is that motivation still there? Most likely not. 

Some days, especially in the beginning of a journey towards a new goal, motivation is high. However, that is not constant. There will be days where one realizes that they have not seen any results, or days that they are mentally drained, or days that their full-time work and personal life is all over the place…on these days, motivation is low. This is where discipline kicks in. 

Discipline is the work ethic one has. When things get tough, mentally and physically, it is the ability to still do the work and put in effort to progress towards the desired goal. 

How can I get more disciplined?

To give an example, I will speak about my own experience. For anyone who knows me well, they know I have a specific goal I want to reach with my fitness. The goal is about seven years away, which is a lot of time to lose motivation and steer different directions. However, it is something that is extremely important to me and I value it a lot. When I started working towards this goal, I was extremely motivated for several reasons. One: I was starting at the bottom so the only way to go was up. Two: it was completely new to me. Three: I had about eight years of mostly strength training at this point, I had reached a plateau in progression and knew that switching up my training would make me a better rounded athlete. 

That motivation dwindled after a bit, especially when I was going through a lot of life changes with work, separating from the military, personal life, etc. But I kept training, and I kept my routine. Although some days were better than others, no days were wasted. 

Below are a few ways to keep discipline:

  1. Establish your goals and prioritize them. If the goal is not important to you then you will most likely not remain disciplined because it’s not a priority. Make sure your goal is meaningful to you and worthy of your time and effort. It’s not always easy to be disciplined, so when things get tough, this shouldn’t be something at the bottom of your list of priorities. 

  2. Create habits and routines. We are what we repeatedly do. When you establish a routine, nothing will keep you away from it. 

  3. Make sure the habits are sustainable. Be smart about your approach. If you’ve never run before but your goal is to run a marathon, don’t start by running 5 mile sprints every day. Take small steps, make progress, and learn. This is when a coach or an expert in the field is extremely useful. 

  4. Set reminders of your goal. Write it down, set reminders on your phone, talk about it with your significant other/family/friends. Personally, I go on long rants about CrossFit & my training, and the person listening (usually one of my friends) probably wants to rip her ears off by the end of my rant.

  5. Track progress. This is especially important with fitness and health goals. However, progress is not always linear and there will be times you may not see the results you want. In that case, be patient (easier said than done). If you are disciplined and do what you need to do, progress will come. 

  6. Make it enjoyable. Enjoy the journey. If you’re not loving what you’re doing, then why do it?


  1. Chasing Excellence: This Podcast is led by Ben Bergeron, a well-known CrossFit Coach and owner of CrossFit New England (CFNE). Many times, he talks about discipline and working hard towards goals. He also has a book worth checking out!

  2. The Tim Ferris Show, Episode #275: Discipline Equals Freedom — Jocko Willink

  3. Viral TV: The Importance Of Discipline with Joe Rogan

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