Motivation is a hot topic. I had one of the top answers to “How to motivate myself to work hard” on Quora with over 44,000 views. Let me provide a candid follow-up to that question. There’s a difference between discipline and motivation, and you need to understand this.

This is universal to anyone who wants to get things done. My audience is mostly entrepreneurs, and the bulk of them are marketing consultants, but it can apply to anyone. So listen in and get your mind right.


Hey guys, David Bradley here. And today, I want to talk to you about the difference between discipline and motivation and why motivation is largely a waste of time and where you shouldn’t be redirecting. Your energy is on being more disciplined. So let’s think about what the difference between discipline is. Discipline is showing up every day, regardless of all the factors of how you feel and what you want to do. It’s the discipline of appearing where you need to be or showing up to work, showing up in doing your job. And that is essentially the preeminent focus of being effective, right? If you are able to actually drag yourself out of bed and get to the office and do what you need to do, regardless of how you feel and that isn’t to disregard feeling all around. And a lot of what I talk about is using how you feel in some capacity is about your mindset, but you can’t allow that to be an excuse either because that is one of the biggest struggles that you’ll face as an entrepreneur, as a new consultant.

And when you’re operating as a solo consultant, if you’re going down the market and consulting path, and you, you know, you have a team somewhere, a remote team, if you are doing it all yourself, it is inherently kind of a lonely path, but that is where discipline is more important than motivation, but motivation is very sexy. There’s all these motivational speeches out there and videos, and they do give you some energy, but there’s an issue there. Motivation is very elusive. It’s with us one day and the next it’s not. And it’s with us one moment and the next it’s not. And we can try to manufacture it in some way by, you know, putting our energy towards these things where we’re watching videos. And we’re looking at people who are accomplishing things, but those people that are accomplishing things, aren’t watching videos, they’re disciplined in their pursuits.

Discipline is programmable. So we can force ourselves into being disciplined by programming, what our days look like and what we’re going to do. And then you’re following that process again, regardless of how we feel, how motivated we are, motivation is not actually effective. What we’re doing is spending our time looking at what might help to be disciplined. So the idea yeah, is that it’s going to make you disciplined. But if you make that choice, because you know, in your heart, what you need to do, what you want to do, if you make that choice in yourself to be disciplined, then you’re not relying on your mood. You’re not relying on how you feel, not relying on how much energy you have or don’t have, you’re doing something that can actually build on itself. Discipline is something that is easier to accomplish when you are disciplined.

When you’re following processes that you build into your own life, motivation is temporary. It is something that is easy to be distracted by. It’s something that we waste energy on because we’re hunting down, you know, a way to be motivation motivated. And, you know, I know that there seems to be a fit for it. And I have some highly voted motivational answers on Quora from years ago, that’s been seen, I don’t know, 60,000 times or something, it’s one of the top, a couple answers about how to stay motivated. But at the end of the day, I did all of those things at a time when I was enjoying the distraction of being motivated, the distraction of going out there and figuring out the 14 different ways to stay motivated, be strange kind of aspect of discipline is it’s inherently motivational, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

Exactly motivational. There’s a sense of accomplishment when you’re disciplined, when you’re going out and doing that thing that you don’t really want to do, but you do it anyway, you accomplish it. You meet your objective. That is what is going to motivate you is that is based upon your own actions. That is your overcoming of something that you didn’t want to partake in, in the first place. And that is what is going to move you forward and keep you motivated as opposed to watching a video that gives you a little spike in energy that you then invest. And at the end of the day, you accomplish significantly less than if you set the schedule, you stay disciplined, do it, and you do what you’re supposed to do. Get to work, show up, take action, call it a day and repeat. And that is something that is going to keep you motivated. That is discipline.

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