How To Find Motivation and Discipline?


Hidden in the woods at Gypsy Brae lurks one of my favourite workout spots. A series of stairs, 5 long and overgrown sets in total, interspersed a few hundred metres apart. They make for a great set of repeat sprints – a wee jog along the edge of the woods of a couple of kilometres with up to ten hard intervals if you do them all, out and back.

It was during one of these sessions that I had a memorable experience, one which I wanted to share with the good folks of Fitness Soul, as a follow up to Leszek’s rather glum photograph.

There I was, puffing hard up a steep set when I saw, descending, a couple dressed sensibly in waterproofs and boots. As one does when one has an audience, I put on a wee spurt. They stood aside to let me pass, and as I whooshed past with secretly burning lungs and bulgy eyes, the man said to me “I wish I had your motivation”. The woman instantly retorted “He probably just hates himself, Barry.

Never before had I been dissected so instantly and effortlessly, saving me many thousands in therapy ever since. Their amateur assessment struck me as comic at the time, but on reflection, there might be a teensy nugget of wisdom in there. Whenever I’ve worked with a client to achieve a goal, fitness or otherwise, I’ve always felt my spirits sag a little when people talk about being “motivated”.

Motivation is great – who doesn’t want to be the one who loves lacing up their trainers and getting out there? Social media is a blaze of perky, smiley happy people going hard and loving it. And good on them.

But motivation fades. A crappy day, an illness, a million changing life circumstances getting in the way.

What happens to those motivated people when the music stops and the happy little voice that says “play with me” isn’t there?

Discipline is what gets results. On the days where motivation is lacking and when everything else screams “STAY IN BED YOU IDIOT IT’S COLD AND DARK OUTSIDE AND THERE ARE NO BISCUITS AT THE GYM” it is a discipline that gets you up, out and working on your goals. Achieving those goals is the reward, and rewards keep us motivated, thus closing that virtuous circle.

So how to achieve that elusive elixir? If we aren’t motivated, how do we find discipline? Good question and I wish I knew.

For me, a routine puts a structure which enforces discipline when motivation lacks.

Knowing Monday is Muay Thai means I don’t need discipline if I just follow the structure, and eventually, it becomes part of the natural rhythm of my life.

Alternatively, find company and work together to keep each other’s discipline (not motivation) when one falters, so the other is there to help the falterer stand stronger.

Finally, as a very tired, wet and broken friend once said to me; “It can’t be Christmas every day”. By accepting that we don’t feel that excited buzz to get our fitness on, but that we are bloody well going to anyway, we go beyond the flimsy sheen of motivation and we achieve that steely determination to excel.  See you all at 6.30am!


Train with Richard and Fitness Soul Bootcamp Crew every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30am!

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