This week, we’ll explore the difference between motivation and discipline and how to use both to be more productive.

Motivation and discipline are often used interchangeably, but they are two distinct concepts regarding productivity. 

While motivation is the drive or desire to take action, discipline is the ability to stay committed and consistent with that action. 


Motivation is the fuel that drives us to take action. It’s the reason why we do what we do. When we’re motivated, we feel a sense of purpose and direction and are willing to put in the effort to achieve our goals. 

Motivation can come from internal or external sources, such as a desire for personal growth or recognition from others. However, it is essential for productivity because it provides the initial push to get started. 

However, motivation can also be fickle and unreliable. It’s easy to feel motivated when we’re excited about a new project or inspired by a successful outcome. But when the going gets tough, motivation can quickly fade away.

If you wait to feel motivated to do things, chances are you’ll achieve very little; that’s where discipline comes in.


Discipline is the ability to stay committed and consistent with our actions, even when we don’t feel motivated. It’s self-control and willpower that allows us to resist temptation and distractions and stay focused on our goals. 

Discipline is essential for productivity because it helps us to stay on track and make progress, even when we’re not feeling motivated. Unfortunately, discipline is often seen as a negative or punitive concept, but it doesn’t have to be. 

Discipline can be a positive and empowering force in our lives. When we have discipline, we feel in control of our actions and our lives. We’re able to set goals and follow through with them, which leads to a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Motivation vs Discipline

While motivation and discipline are both essential for productivity, they are not interchangeable. Motivation provides the initial spark, but discipline is what keeps us going. 

Motivation is a temporary feeling that comes and goes, but discipline is a habit that we can develop over time.

It can be helpful when we’re starting a new project or trying to make a change in our lives. It can provide the energy and excitement we need to get started. 

However, motivation is not enough to sustain us over the long term. We need discipline and strong habits to keep us on track and help us make progress, even when we’re not feeling motivated.

How to Develop Discipline

Discipline is a habit that can be developed through practice and repetition. Here are some tips for developing discipline:

1.         Set Clear Goals

One of the keys to developing discipline is to set clear and specific goals. When we have a clear idea of what we want to achieve, we’re more likely to stay focused and committed to our actions.

2.         Create a Routine

Creating a routine can help us to develop discipline by making our actions a habit. We’re more likely to stick to our efforts when we have a regular routine, even when we don’t feel motivated. I’ve written previously on habit creation (read more here).

3.         Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement can help us develop discipline by rewarding ourselves for our actions. We’re more likely to continue our efforts when we reward ourselves for our progress. This is because reward induces dopamine (the reward chemical) which drives us to keep doing tasks that trigger its release.

4.         Practice Self-Control

Practising self-control can help us to develop discipline by training our minds to resist temptation and distractions. When we practice self-control (often referred to as ‘delayed gratification’), we’re better able to stay focused on our goals and make progress.

How to Stay Motivated

While discipline is essential for productivity, motivation is still an important factor. Here are some tips for staying motivated:

1. Find Your “Why”

Finding your WHY can help you to stay motivated by reminding you of the purpose behind your actions. What is it that motivates you to do the things you do? Is it a desire to achieve financial security, help others, or pursue a passion? 

Research has repeatedly shown that if your WHY isn’t big enough, you will unlikely be motivated to reach your goals. So whatever your WHY, make sure you clearly understand your motivations and remind yourself of them regularly. This will help you stay focused and committed to your goals, even when things get tough.

2. Beat Procrastination – The 5-second Rule

Procrastination is the curse of motivation. Motivation will propel us forward when we start a new task/project/goal. However, as I’ve described in previous posts when things get tough, we tend to self-sabotage, usually through procrastination.

Procrastination is a problem for many of us and a topic I’ve previously written about extensively – read here). However, the No 1 tool I’ve found for managing procrastination is the 5-second rule created by renowned American coach Mel Robbins.

In essence, there is a 5-second lag between us having the idea to do something and getting into action. In that short time, your brain assesses whether there is any perceived physical or mental ‘pain’ (risk) involved.

If it finds something (which it will; otherwise, you wouldn’t have stalled), your brain will convince you to do something else instead.

To override the procrastination, as soon as you have the idea to do something, count down out loud and launch yourself into action.

This simple but effective process has been extensively studied and proven to give brilliant results. It works by occupying the part of the brain that usually comes up with excuses.

You can use it for anything you’re procrastinating over:

  • Getting out of bed
  • Making the phone call you don’t want to make
  • Going to the gym
  • Reaching for the cakes and chocolate instead of a healthy snack
  • Doing homework
  • Writing a report that you don’t want to do
  • Doing the dishes/cleaning/ironing, etc.

It works for anything you’re avoiding, regardless of what it is. The hardest part of the 5-second rule is remembering to use it!


What Next?


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(Disclaimer – The information in this article is meant for entertainment purposes only and is in no way meant as a replacement for professional medical or psychological support. Please seek the appropriate advice from a healthcare professional should you feel it necessary.)

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