It’s great to be inspired. It’s great to be motivated. It’s great to have discipline. These are all concepts that speak to drive, energy, and work ethic, but what exactly is the difference between them? Which of them should we work to cultivate in our lives?
To try and really drill down into the difference between the three, I’m going to tell a short story about my experience with each of these states.
A few years ago, I went from being a freelance writer to a blogger writing about smoking cessation. I was like a man possessed. My father had died of lung cancer and I was pulling from a deep well of inspiration as I created content and built a community of people trying to quit smoking. I didn’t have to push myself to write articles or to moderate the Facebook group, I wanted to! There was something inside of me that kept me on fire for the topic and for the project.
From 2015-2017, I was a partner on a solar energy website. I love the idea of solar energy and alternative fuels in general, but I wasn’t exactly passionate about it. I would have fits of motivation where I would grind and get things done in spurts. I’d be absolutely destroyed after. But it was exactly that…a grind. The motivation to work was fleeting at best, I could never count on it to be there consistently.
Disciplined is a state of being that I’m honestly not very familiar with. Committing and sticking to new habits has never been a strength of mine. I’ve always had struggles with consistency and routine. However, this blog and all of the 30 day challenges I’ve been doing have instilled a new sense of discipline within me. I write a blog post per day, I meditate every day, I go on job interviews, I do 100 push ups and 50 pull ups. I have a routine and I have an expectation of myself to do certain things. Discipline isn’t something that comes naturally, you have to build it through repetition and commitment to an idea.
So Which Is Best? Inspiration, Motivation, or Discipline?
As you could probably tell from my stories, motivation is the least desirable of these states of mind. It feels good in the moment and it can trick you into thinking that it will always be there, but ultimately this is just a facade. Motivation is, by its nature, a fleeting experience. You don’t have to shun motivation when it strikes, but you should be wary of coming to rely on it to get things done.
So that leaves us with inspiration and discipline. Which of the two should you strive for? You may have already guessed what I’m going to say but…both! Inspiration and discipline combine to turn you into an unstoppable force of controlled passion. Inspiration burns inside you, sustaining you along the way. Discipline keeps you on target and focused as you march toward the end goal.
Inspiration is the engine, discipline is the rudder. Inspiration is the flames, discipline is the fireplace. Inspiration is the heart, discipline is the brain.
When you’re inspired, you are full of passion for something that excites you to the core. When you’re disciplined on top of that, you are making sure you are always following that passion without being distracted by emotions, self-doubt, or distraction.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is: find your passion and build your discipline. Explore new interests, dive deeper into old ones. Use tools like 30 day challenges to improve your discipline. Do things when you don’t want to and always remember why you’re doing them.
This combination can be a complete force of nature, but it takes work. You have to know when you’re on the right path and you have to stay on that path diligently. But it’s worth it. It’s so worth it.