Motivation vs. Discipline: Which Is More Important?


motivation vs. discipline

If you’re trying to reach specific nutrition and fitness goals, it’s important to use all the tools at your disposal to help you get where you want to be. That’s exactly why many of our clients look to our group and personal training programs for the information and support they need. While these, along with nutrition coaching, can be instrumental to your success, what’s inside you matters, too. That brings us to an age-old debate about motivation vs. discipline. When it comes to reaching your goals, which one is more important? Let’s start by gaining a better understanding of the difference between the two.

Motivation vs. Discipline: What’s the Difference?

Although many of us are guilty of using these two terms interchangeably, they’re actually two different things.

It can be helpful to think of motivation as what drives you to do or not do something. For example, if your parents and siblings are overweight and experiencing weight-related health issues, that could be motivation for you to do things differently. It can be the inspiration you need to make personal changes that create different results, such as maintaining a healthy weight.

Now that you have a reason, or motivation, to change, what will you actually do about it? The process of training yourself to function in a controlled and deliberate way is discipline. In the example above, you can use discipline to create healthy habits such as drinking more water, eating quality foods, or following a fitness program. When things get tough, and you don’t feel like following through, you can remember your ‘why’, or motivation, for making healthy changes.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Many people find the drive to do what they do because of external factors … things like the approval of others, winning a prize, or receiving some monetary reward. These are all types of extrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivators can certainly be useful, but what happens when the motivator is gone? Will you keep following the healthy habits you’ve built? Many people won’t … unless they’re also using intrinsic motivation. This is the use of internal thoughts and feelings to provide inspiration for your outward behaviors. For example, maybe you continue to work out because it feels good. Or, perhaps you persist with eating and preparing nutritious meals because they taste good. These are intrinsic motivators that can keep you following a healthy habit even when it might otherwise be difficult to do so.

In general, most people are more successful in reaching their nutrition and fitness goals when they have some intrinsic motivators and they’re not just relying on extrinsic motivation.

What’s the Answer to the Motivation vs. Discipline Debate?

Simply put, you need both motivation and discipline to be successful. That’s true for most things in life, but especially when it comes to achieving your health and fitness goals. Having the desire, or motivation, to make lasting change won’t do any good unless you use discipline to make it happen.

So, what do you do if you’re not short on motivation but you are lacking in the discipline department? We recommend enrolling in one of our group training programs! Working with a coach who is dedicated to your success, and spending time with like-minded individuals with similar goals, can provide you with what you need to get into action.

We keep it fun and engaging so you’ll want to return for more. Plus, we’re committed to leaving you better off than you were before and helping you create lasting change. Contact us today to sign up for your 14-day trial membership to get started!

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