Motivation vs. Discipline

When you work toward a fitness goal, you will probably hear a lot about the importance of discipline and motivation. While the terms have similar meanings, they are two distinct qualities that help you stay committed to reaching your goals. But what exactly is the difference between the two?

Defining Motivation

Motivation is the general desire or willingness to do something. It is essentially the reason you act or behave in a certain way. It is the drive that inspires you to commit to working out, eating healthy, or other fitness or mental health goals. There are two main types of motivation:

  1. Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation is all about the excitement and satisfaction you get from a certain activity. For example, maybe you feel motivated to take a yoga class because it puts you in a positive mindset. It is about the feeling you get internally. 

  1. Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation is all about outside elements. When people are extrinsically motovated, they are seeking some type of reward or approval. It may also be out of fear of disapproval. For example, maybe you signed up for a group fitness class to socialize with your friends. It could also mean treating yourself to something special when you reach a specific milestone. 

Defining Discipline

Discipline is the quality of being able to behave and work in a controlled way. It involves setting personal expectations and following them consistently. It means establishing rules for yourself that remain unaffected by your emotional state. 

For example, commiting to five CrossFit classes a week is a form of discipline. You have decided that you will complete the classes despite how motivated or unmotivated you feel when it is time to follow through. While there may be flexibility in terms of times or types of workouts, the commitment to exercising five times a week must stay constant, regardless of external or emotional circumstances. 

Is One More Important Than the Other?

In simple terms, both discipline and motivation play key roles in helping us achieve our fitness goals, and sustaining a fitness routine. Motivation is what gets us started, and discipline is what makes it happen. 

Because discipline and motivation support eachother, it can be difficult to determine which one is more important for sticking to your fitness routine. However, there are a few differences between the two in terms of which one is more effective in helping you sustain your fitness routine. 

Discipline is a more long-term, set behavior, while motivation can fluctuate depending on internal and external elements. We can feel motivated to exercise, but it requires discipline to actually complete the workout when we would rather be relaxing in bed instead. While you might feel motivated to exercise everyday, if something interrupts that motivation such as a busy schedule, you might not have the discipline to follow through with your workout. But if you have the discipline, you’ll find a way to get that workout in even when motivation is lacking. 

Tips to Stay Motivated and Disciplined

Sometimes we need help finding the motivation and discipline to stick to a routine. Thankfully, there are a few things you can try to make sure you stick to your routine:

  1. Create a Plan

Creating a set workout schedule in clear terms will help you stick to your plan easier. Rather than ambiguously deciding to workout a few times during the week, setting a clear schedule of taking three CrossFit classes a week will make it easier for you to stick to your plan.

  1. Find a Workout You Enjoy

If you are doing a workout you hate, you will be less likely to stick to it. Finding a workout you find fun and challenging will make it more enjoyable for you, and will make it more likely for you to show up and get your workout done. 

  1. Stay Realistic

Start with workouts or goals that are smaller and more attainable, before moving towards hitting your larger goals. This will make it easier for you to stick with your workout plan in the long run.

  1. Dont Just Depend on Motivation

There will be days where you don’t want to show up. That is normal. Instead, you have to try and dig deeper and find the discipline to stay committed to your routine. Always listen to your body and make time for rest, but if you commit to a workout plan, even if mentally you feel like giving up, you have to find the discipline to stick with it. 

  1. Celebrate Your Wins and Focus on What You are Gaining

Acknowledging your progress is a huge motivator! Celebrating your successes, even small ones, can help you maintain momentum in your fitness routine. Paying attention to the physical and mental benefits of your routine can also have a positive impact on your overall well-being and help you improve motivation and discipline to keep going. 

When thinking about the difference between motivation and discipline, the most important thing to take away is that both are essential to developing a sustainable workout routine. Motivation is what helps you get started on your journey, and discipline is what keeps you going, even when your motivation is running low. 

Make sure to reach out to one of our coaches today to learn more about how you can stay motivated and disciplined during your workouts!

Start here

Book a free intro today so we can learn all about you, your goals and how we can help you reach them
Free Intro