Motivation and discipline are common words we see in writings about sport. We see them in social media, quotes and in speeches to inspire us in our training and racing. Most of us have a general understanding of what each word means. However, these two words are often used interchangeably and their true definitions become muddled.
It’s important to recognize that motivation and discipline are two very different things. We can define motivation as a general willingness to do something. It’s often the reason we start a new hobby or create a goal. It is the warm and fuzzy feeling that moves us forward. But, when fatigue and self-doubt set in, our motivation can wane. It can be fleeting due to its sensitivity to our emotions and moods. This is when discipline comes into play.
Discipline is a pattern of behaviour and a skill / mindset that we can develop over time, with practice. We require a degree of self-control to exhibit discipline. We have to learn how to exercise restraint over our emotions and impulses in order to maintain discipline. As our ability to stay disciplined improves, we can rely on it to sustain consistent training practices or hard efforts racing when our motivation declines. Discipline drives our success and encourages us to push through uncomfortable situations when our motivation fails us.
Although discipline might seem to be more important than motivation, in the end, both are valuable. We need motivation to stay disciplined and discipline to stay motivated. Motivation gets us up and out the door, but in its absense, discipline helps us execute plans and get the work done.