Discipline vs. Motivation

Use motivation to get started and discipline to keep going.

Adem Turgut
7 min readFeb 20, 2023

This post will explore two essential keys to success — discipline and motivation. While both factors play a significant role in achieving goals and help you to overcome failure, they are often confused. The most common symptom is when I hear someone describe a task they don’t want to do as “demotivating”.

Motivation is like a boost that gives you the energy to start something. The spark ignites the fire and drives you toward your goals. On the other hand, discipline is the fuel that keeps that fire burning. The steady force that allows you to maintain momentum, even when motivation is lacking.

Motivation is fleeting, and it is not always reliable. Getting excited about a new project or goal is easy, but that excitement can quickly dissipate. Discipline, on the other hand, is reliable. It is the ability to stick with something even when it becomes challenging, tedious, or frustrating.

Both discipline and motivation are keys to success and overcoming failure. They allow us to create good habits and remain productive, even when things get tough. This blog will help you better understand the difference between discipline and motivation and provide practical tips to develop both.

Motivation gives you a boost

While multifaceted and intricate, motivation is a driving force that can propel us toward our goals.

Motivation’s explosive nature stems from the sudden bursts of energy and enthusiasm it can generate. When we’re inspired to do something, we feel a surge of energy and a renewed commitment, no matter how difficult the task may be. This infusion of vitality can mean the difference between success and failure, propelling us forward in adversity.

Motivated individuals tend to be focused on achieving their objectives and are likely to take actions that will move them closer to their goals. Motivation increases self-confidence. It can also help us develop the skills and knowledge we need to succeed, as we are more likely to seek opportunities for learning and growth.

Motivation is Fleeting

Motivation can be fickle and fleeting. You can feel motivated one day and then unmotivated the next. This is because motivation is heavily influenced by external factors often outside our control.

Intrinsic motivation, or the drive to do something for personal fulfilment and enjoyment, can be quite powerful. However, it is often difficult to maintain over a long period. If you don’t feel good about yourself and your abilities, it’s easy to lose motivation when things don’t go as planned.

Extrinsic motivation, or the drive to do something for external rewards such as money or praise, can be effective in the short term but often proves insufficient to sustain long-term motivation.

External factors such as stress, poor sleep, or changes in routine can impact our ability to feel motivated. Also, the human brain is wired to seek novelty. Neophillia, or the desire to seek new experiences, is vital for a happier and healthier life. However, this can conflict with maintaining motivation for routine tasks.

Ultimately, it is challenging for most people to maintain a consistent level of motivation for extended periods.

How to develop intrinsic motivation.

Self-motivation is crucial for achieving long-term goals and maintaining a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

One way to develop intrinsic motivation is to focus on personal growth. By exploring your values and setting challenging goals that align with them, you can tap into your intrinsic motivation and derive a sense of purpose from your pursuits.

Another important aspect of developing intrinsic motivation is cultivating a growth mindset. This means embracing challenges and setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth rather than viewing them as roadblocks to success. Individuals can maintain motivation even in adversity by reframing failures as valuable learning experiences.

Finally, creating a supportive environment that fosters intrinsic motivation is crucial. This can be achieved by surrounding oneself with like-minded individuals and creating a routine that includes self-care, healthy habits, and balanced lifestyle choices.

Discipline is your fuel

Discipline is the ability to follow the rules, guidelines, or principles regardless of how we feel or what external circumstances we face. Discipline is like a nagging voice in our daily lives that pushes us to take action and progress toward our goals. This voice is often ignored, but we find the motivation and perseverance we need to succeed when we listen to it.

For example, weight loss takes discipline. Weight loss is not easy; it requires discipline to stick to a healthy diet and regular exercise regimen. The nagging voice of discipline reminds us to make healthy food choices and to stay on track with our workouts, even when we don’t feel like it. It is the discipline to make consistent, small changes in our lifestyle that leads to long-term weight loss success.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

Jim Rohn

Discipline is the fuel that drives us toward success. Achieving our goals requires consistent action, and discipline helps us take those actions. Whether a personal goal, such as weight loss, or a professional goal, such as completing a project on time, discipline is vital for success.

Discipline is Reliable

While motivation is fleeting, discipline is reliable — particularly self-discipline, which relies on habit formation. Self-discipline provides a shield against distraction and temptation. This is vital when facing important and difficult tasks that stand between you and your goals.

A routine and setting priorities allow you to make consistent progress toward your objectives. Also, as James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” points out, you form your identity. This can be incredibly empowering and propel you toward success.

With self-discipline most anything is possible. Theodore Roosevelt

Also, discipline can help you develop resilience and perseverance in facing challenges or setbacks. When faced with unexpected obstacles, people with a strong sense of discipline are better equipped to stay focused on their goals and maintain habits necessary for success.

Consistent Self Discipline is Key

It takes consistent self-discipline to achieve any long-term goal. This is because you must be willing to delay immediate gratification for rewards in the future. Therefore, the habits we form through self-discipline can make all the difference between achievement and failure.

I could only achieve success in my life through self-discipline, and I applied it until my wish and my will became one. Nikola Tesla

Developing self-discipline is not easy, but it is worth the effort. It requires consistent practice and a commitment to personal growth. The more individuals practice self-discipline, the easier it becomes to maintain, and the greater the rewards will be. Consistent self-discipline leads to greater productivity, improved self-esteem, and increased confidence in one’s abilities.

How to cultivate self-discipline.

The key ingredients to cultivating self-discipline are intrinsic motivation and self-control.

Intrinsic motivation is what inspires us to set goals. Goals should be clear and achievable, and one should be able to visualize success and celebrate small wins. A sense of purpose and personal values are also important for cultivating discipline.

Self-control helps us regulate our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Mindfulness and self-awareness are important for recognizing triggers and learning from past mistakes. By making conscious choices, we can practice self-control more effectively.

It is also essential to build healthy habits that support self-discipline, such as regular exercise and healthy eating. Finally, it is important to approach self-discipline with a growth mindset: the belief that you can develop this skill over time with practice and persistence.

Discipline and Motivation Work Hand in Hand

Motivation and discipline are both important factors in achieving success. Motivation is required to start, but without discipline, you will not be able to stay focused on the task at hand or complete the necessary steps to achieve your goals. Self-discipline is key to developing habits that become second nature and enable you to go the extra mile toward your goals.

Motivation is crucial to achieving goals, but discipline keeps us moving forward when our motivation wanes. By developing a habit of disciplined action, we can push through difficult times and maintain focus on the result.

Motivation is doing what NEEDS to be done when you WANT to do it. Discipline is doing what NEEDS to be done when you DON’T WANT to do it. Source.


In conclusion, the debate between discipline and motivation is not a matter of which is better but rather a matter of how they complement each other. Discipline and motivation work together to create a strong foundation for success, both in personal and professional life.

Motivation gives you the push you need to get started, while discipline helps you stay focused and consistent. Intrinsic motivation comes from within and is the ultimate driving force, while self-discipline ensures that you stay on track to achieve your goals.

Cultivating good habits and remaining productive requires both discipline and motivation. Following the tips in this blog, you can develop a healthy balance between the two and create a winning formula for success.

Remember, consistent self-discipline is the key to achieving anything worth having, but a little motivation can go a long way in keeping you on the right track. Keep this in mind as you work towards your goals, and don’t forget to celebrate your successes.

We hope this blog has helped shed light on the difference between discipline and motivation and how they work together to help you overcome failure and achieve success. Thank you for reading!



Adem Turgut

CEO of SolveXia (Enterprise Process Automation), Writer and Efficiency Enthusiast