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Moving forwards when motivation has gone the way of the Dodo

If I’d known that maintaining a healthy, intentional lifestyle would be so hard I probably would never have started. Fortunately, what I do know is that despite the frustration, suffering (from lack of cookies) and setbacks that have gone along with my intentional living journal, the pay back is still worth it.

The other day I was feeling pretty low. I’m losing the battle against my waistline, my exercise regime is suffering, my workload is growing and my motivation is plummeting. All of which resulted in a particularly dark moment of ‘it’s not fair!’ Why should I have to make all this effort just to stay healthy and pain free? Why can’t I spend every evening on the couch eating cookies and watching Star Trek? I work hard, this doesn’t seem unreasonable.

It is unreasonable though. I know that the only thing I’ve gotten from couch cookie eating in the past is pain, both mental and physical.

But what do we do when we get to that point where our internal thoughts are saying, ‘this is too hard,’ ‘I don’t want to do this any more.’?

I saw a quote from Marcus Aurelius today:

“When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstance, revert at once to yourself, and don’t lose the rhythm more than you can help. You’ll have a better group of harmony if you keep on going back to it.” — Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius was a Stoic and a Roman Emperor. Arguably, one could argue that he was probably a lot busier than I am, with a lot more responsibility that I have and a lot more opportunities for couch lolling indulgence. And yet, Marcus Aurelius assessed his intentions and his performance against them every day. In the quote above he counsels perseverance in the face of adversity. But where do we get the will to persevere from?

In the end, I think you have to replace motivation with discipline. The other evening, I was listening to a motivational talk on YouTube my husband was playing in the other room. I can’t reference it because I didn’t see who was speaking but the guy was an ex Navy Seal. He made the point that consistent progress relies on discipline. Motivation is not always with us, it comes and goes but discipline is what gets us out of bed to go to work on cold days, even if we didn’t get enough sleep. In the end, discipline will help us more in making progress than motivation will.

What’s fascinating is that I consider myself to be a disciplined person. I’m pretty good at showing up, meeting deadlines and not letting people down. What I’ve realised is that I apply discipline to some things but not all. It’s time to take a hard look at my lifestyle and start applying some discipline to the areas where I struggle the most.

Have you struggled with finding motivation or discipline on your path to improvement. I’d love to hear your story.


  1. (There WAS more – hit enter instead of quotation marks. Guess I should eat less cookies!)

    “In the end, I think you have to replace motivation with discipline.”

    Great insight!


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