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According to Psychology Today, motivation is “…literally a desire to do things.” But if you’re trying to get motivated to do something that truly feels terrible and sucks, like overcoming an irrational fear of selling, or cold calling, or exercising regularly, or waking up early, or quitting drinking… How are you ever going to develop the desire to do those things?
The poor advice on Psychology Today regarding the importance of “motivation” continues…
“It’s the difference between waking up before dawn to pound the pavement and lazing around the house all day. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining goals—and research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control. So figure out what you want, power through the pain period, and start being who you want to be.”
The last part of the last sentence, “…power through the pain…” suggests that Psychology Today is conflating the meaning of motivation with what it means to be disciplined.
Discipline is the suppression of desire to do what’s right. From Wikipedia:
“Discipline is the suppression of base desires, and is usually understood to be synonymous with self-restraint and control. Discipline is when one uses reason to determine the best course of action regardless of one’s desires, which may be the opposite of excited.”
Passion is similar to motivation in terms of its connection to desire… So, unless you’re part masochist, following your passion would be bad advice for something to be truly sustainable. It’s perhaps better to overcome irrational fears and pain avoidance by working on a habit. I like Jocko Willink‘s phrase “Discipline equals freedom”… It resonates with me and I hope it will help me become more disciplined… but I’m certainly not motivated by it.