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Discipline over motivation

Establishing principles and strong habits as a safety net for when the motivation well runs dry can save us from stagnating.

Even when we love our jobs, volunteer opportunities or side projects, we can find ourselves lacking the motivation or drive to do what we love. The same fire that burned inside of us just weeks ago is slowly dwindling away.

Sometimes a loss of motivation happens because things aren’t progressing as quickly as we would like or expect. Hitting a wall in your planning or not having the approval you need to get to the next step of the process can deflate anyone’s motivation. It’s hard seeing yourself lose motivation to do something you love. It can make you question whether you’re on the right career path or if the side project you’ve been working so hard on is a lost cause.

These are the moments when our discipline should kick in. Motivation can be a great tool for helping us achieve our goals, but it’s fickle and susceptible to influence from external factors. Ultimately, it’s unsustainable, and we grow tired of chasing it.

Merriam-Webster defines discipline as training oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way, regardless of surrounding circumstances. Self-discipline is an action but more importantly—a choice.

We use self-discipline in many areas of our life. We use it to eat well, exercise, show up on time for work, and not spend our entire paycheck on Amazon. Yet, sometimes, discipline is overlooked while motivation is glamorized. Motivation is packaged in a million different ways—from books and magazines to conferences and retreats—all telling you that they have found the secret to endless motivation that will help you achieve the life you’ve always wanted.

Establishing principles and habits as a safety net for when the motivation well runs dry can save us from the type of discouragement that can make us abandon our projects entirely. It might not be as flashy as motivation, but it will carry us through the periods when our ideas are running dry and we feel like giving up.

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Laurie Bullock

Laurie Bullock is the editorial assistant for New Frontier Publications.