#147 – Motivation Over Discipline
Over the last few years the “discipline” movement has gained full steam. From retired special forces like Jocko Willink and David Goggins touting the benefits of waking up at 4:00am, to Mr Money Mustache calling his followers to face punch their finances, the internet is awash in discipline pep talks. Often these calls for discipline involve a sort of intense, white-knuckle approach to lifestyle and personal development that requires willpower and self-denial. However, is this really the right approach to cultivating lasting habit change?
Matt and Scott argue that it is motivation, in fact, that begets discipline. White-knuckle discipline relies on willpower, a finite resource, while motivation comes from within. Those who appear to exhibit a high degree of discipline or self-control are really not using much self-control at all. They are merely acting on their deeply-held values, which requires little willpower. We often mistake this affinity for a task or habit which many find difficult for discipline, when the truth is that for guys like Jocko Willink, waking up at 4:00am simply comes naturally for him.
Instead of forcing ourselves to do things we think we ought to, Scott calls us to deeply examine the things we value and align our habits with those values. Ultimately, we do what we like to do. That isn’t to say we should never subject ourselves to a little voluntary hardship. Struggle and hardship is a part of any journey. But if the road is always uphill, steeper with every turn… maybe you’re not on the right road.
Our friend Brett McKay at Art of Manliness penned an excellent article on motivation which served as the inspiration for this episode: https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/motivation-over-discipline/