Learn the key differences between motivation vs. discipline, and how to leverage them to your advantage. Find why discipline is more important than motivation

Motivation Vs. Discipline: The Ultimate Guide to Achieve Your Goals

Dec 21, 2023

By Will Moore

Have you ever felt motivated to start a new habit, a project, or a goal, only to find yourself losing steam after a few days, weeks, or months? You aren’t alone.

Many people struggle with the same challenges. They want to level up in life, but they lack the consistent drive, often swinging between motivation and discipline. Understanding the dynamics of motivation vs. discipline is key to overcoming these challenges.

In this article, you’ll learn how to master both motivation and discipline and how to strategically use them to your advantage.

Life Upgrades You'll Receive

  • Understand the difference between motivation and discipline, and why you need both

  • Find your purpose and passion, and use them to fuel your motivation

  • Create a system of habits, routines, and rewards, and use them to build your discipline

  • Leverage both discipline and motivation using the Equation of life

  • Use, a gamified approach to improving your habits in the five core areas of happiness: mindset, career and finances, relationships, physical health, and emotional health.

What is Motivation?

Motivation is the psychological process that initiates, guides and sustains your behavior toward a certain goal. Motivation can be influenced by internal factors, such as your needs, interests, values in life, and beliefs, or external factors, such as rewards, incentives, feedback, and social pressure.

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

 Motivation can also be classified into two types: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation comes from within yourself because you enjoy the activity or find it meaningful and satisfying. For example, you might read a book because you love the story, or play a sport because you have fun and challenge yourself.

Extrinsic motivation is the motivation that comes from outside yourself because you expect to gain something or avoid something. For example, you might work hard because you want to earn money or recognition.

Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can be useful and effective, depending on the situation and the goal. However, research has shown that intrinsic motivation tends to be more stable, enduring, and rewarding than extrinsic motivation and that it can also enhance your creativity, performance self confidence, and well-being.

What is Discipline?

Discipline is the art of consistency, or the ability to follow through on your plans and commitments, even when you face difficulties and temptations. Discipline is not something that you have or don’t have, but something that you can develop and improve with practice, focus and persistence.

It is not about punishing yourself or depriving yourself of pleasure, but about aligning your actions with your goals and dreams to live a balanced life

Motivation Vs Discipline: What’s the difference?

Discipline is often associated with motivation, but they are different.

Motivation is the feeling that drives you to take action, while discipline is the skill that helps you to keep taking action. For example, you may be motivated to get a promotion, but you need discipline to work hard on your projects.

  • Motivation is Temporary, but Discipline is Consistent

Motivation can fade away, but discipline can keep you going. It is often temporary and dependent on external factors, such as rewards, recognition on, or inspiration. However, discipline is more consistent and independent of external factors, such as mood, environment, or feedback.

For instance, in a workplace, a motivated employee might excel during a project with the prospect of a bonus. However, a disciplined employee consistently performs well, regardless of immediate rewards, maintaining high standards even in routine tasks or during challenging times.

  • Motivation is easy, but Discipline is challenging

While motivation can come easily, discipline requires more effort and commitment. It's easy to start a new project, but it's challenging to stick to it until completion.

Motivation vs. Discipline Psychology

Motivation is a complex neurobiological phenomenon. It's driven by the brain's reward system, primarily involving dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and reward-seeking behaviors. Our minds are wired to seek immediate rewards, which is why short-term goals often appeal more than long-term aspirations.

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Our mindset and habits are two psychological factors that affect our discipline. A growth mindset helps us stay disciplined by making us more resilient, optimistic, and persistent. A fixed mindset hinders our discipline by making us fearful, pessimistic, and avoidant. Habits are actions that we do automatically and unconsciously, and they can either support or sabotage our discipline. 

How to Stay Disciplined and Motivated? Tips and Techniques

Ever wonder how some people seem super disciplined like they always get their stuff done on time? Well, here's a secret: it's not just about willpower; it's about creating a system of habits and routines. And guess what? You can do it too and make it fun! Let's find out how you can build your discipline muscle with some easy steps.

Step 1: Pick Your Goals

The first step to building discipline is to define your goals clearly. Read our detailed guide on 7 steps of goal stepping to define your goals.  Let’s say you want to learn a new skill. Is it coding? Playing guitar? Or perhaps learning a new language? Jot down these goals. Think of them as your mission. 

Step 2: Create Daily Habits

Now, break these skill-learning goals into daily success habits. For instance, if you want to learn the language, your habit could be to practice new words for 30 minutes each evening. The key is to practice these habits at the same consistent time every day, so they become an integral part of your daily routine.

Step 3: Make It a Fun Challenge

Time to inject some fun into this! Gamify your journey to get more disciplined. Make a chart and reward yourself with a check mark or a sticker for each day you stick to your habit. Challenge yourself to maintain a streak – how many consecutive days can you practice your new skill?

Step 4: Reward Your Success

Set a reward for yourself for reaching a series of check marks. It could be something like buying yourself a snack or a relaxing evening out. These rewards give you something to look forward to and keep you motivated in your skill-learning journey.

Step 5: Track and Adjust

Keep a log of your progress using an app or diary. If a habit seems too challenging, feel free to modify it. Perhaps break down the skill into smaller, more manageable parts. Consistency is more important than trying to do too much at once.

Step 6: Stay Patient and Positive

Learning a new skill can be challenging, and it's okay to have tough days. Remember, building discipline is akin to muscle training – it strengthens with time and practice. If you miss a practice day, no worries – just pick up where you left off the next day. The more you practice, the more skilled and disciplined you'll become.

Step 7: Remember Your ‘Why’ 

The top most demotivating factor for many individuals is the absence of a sense of purpose in their tasks says organizational psychologist, David Burkus.

Sometimes, you might forget why you started something in the first place. Take a moment to remember why it's important to you. Maybe you're learning a musical instrument because you love music, or learning a language for studying abroad, working in a foreign country, or even teaching a foreign language one day.

How to Stay Motivated and Disciplined at Workplace

As per stats, unmotivated employees contribute to a loss of over $450 billion in US annually. Keeping employees engaged is crucial for both individual and organizational success. Here are four distinct tips to help employees stay motivated and disciplined at work:

  1. Align Personal Goals with Organizational Objectives: Find out how your own goals fit with your company's goals. This makes your work feel more meaningful.

  2. Create a Structured Routine with Clear Milestones: Have a daily plan with clear, small goals. Celebrate when you reach these goals to feel a sense of achievement.

  3. Foster a Growth Mindset: Keep learning and seeing challenges as chances to grow. This helps you stay motivated even when things get tough.

  4. Balance Work and Personal Life: Make sure to balance your job and personal life. Take breaks, enjoy hobbies, and spend time with family to avoid getting burnt out.

Overcoming Challenges: When Neither Motivation nor Discipline Suffices

You know, those tough times when even being super motivated or super disciplined doesn't seem to cut it. It's like hitting a roadblock in a video game where neither jumping nor running helps. So, what do you do? Let's dive into some strategies to help you push through.

Dealing with Roadblocks: Strategies to Push Through

  • Break It Down: Sometimes challenges seem huge, like a giant puzzle. The trick is to break them into smaller pieces. Tackle one small part at a time, and slowly, you'll see the big challenge getting smaller.

  • Change Your Strategy: If something isn't working, don't stick with it just because. It's okay to change your plan. It's like trying a different move in a game when the usual one doesn't work.

  • Stay Calm and In Control: When facing a challenging situation, take a deep breath. Keeping calm helps you think better. Remember, you're in control, even when it doesn't feel like it.

  • Team Up: Sometimes, joining forces with others can make a huge difference. Teamwork can make challenges less intimidating and more manageable. Plus, it's more fun to work on problems together!

How Motivation and Discipline Work Together?

The Equation of Life, "Your Belief System + Your Repeated Actions + Time = Who You Will Become," is a powerful formula that can help you understand how motivation and self discipline work together to shape your future.

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Your belief system is like the foundation. It includes what you think about yourself, your abilities, and what you can achieve. When your beliefs are positive and strong, they fuel your motivation, giving you that initial spark to start something new and exciting.

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Then come your repeated actions. This is where discipline plays a crucial role. Discipline keeps you going, even on days when motivation dips. It's about doing things consistently, whether you feel like it or not. These actions, done over and over, turn into good habits and become part of your routine.

Finally, time is the magic ingredient that brings it all together. With time, your actions and beliefs start to shape who you are. The more time you spend practicing discipline and staying motivated, the more you grow and evolve into the person you aim to be. The most important thing is to understand the importance of discipline and consistency.

So, by using this equation, you leverage both motivation and discipline. Start with a belief that you can achieve your goals, use motivation to kickstart your journey, and rely on discipline to keep you on track over time. This way, you’re setting yourself up for success in the long run.

Discover The Fun Way to Maintain Discipline and Motivation in Life

Struggling to stick to your goals? We've got just the thing for you. It's a quick, cool way to find out what makes you tick and how to keep going strong, even when it gets tough.

In just two minutes, you'll get a peek at how to boost your motivation and stay disciplined to improve 5 core areas of life. Our quiz isn't like homework; it's more like a fun game that helps you learn about yourself and how to get better every day.

You want to do great things, right? Moore Momentum System is your secret weapon. It's easy to understand and based on real science - perfect for making your goals a part of your daily life!

​​Let's dive into our 2-minute quiz. 🚀🚀🚀

And there's more! Stay on track with our handy app. It's like having a friendly guide in your pocket that turns your every day into an exciting journey of growth. 🚀🚀🚀


  1. Which comes first motivation or discipline?

Motivation is the desire to do something, while discipline is the ability to do it consistently. Motivation can come before discipline, but discipline can also create motivation.

  1. What is the difference between motivation and discipline at work?

    Motivation is the feeling of enthusiasm and interest that makes you want to work hard and achieve your goals. Discipline is the skill of following a set of rules and standards that help you work efficiently and effectively.

  2. What’s better discipline or motivation?

    Both are important for success, but discipline is more reliable than motivation. Motivation can fluctuate depending on your mood, environment, and circumstances. Discipline can help you overcome challenges and stay focused on your long-term vision.

  3. . Is discipline the key to success?

    Discipline is one of the keys to success, but not the only one. Success also depends on other factors, such as talent, intelligence, creativity, luck, and opportunity. Discipline can help you make the most of these factors and achieve your full potential.


Will Moore is a gamification, habits and happiness expert.

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