Recently, I’ve found motivation hard to come by. I’ve been thinking hard about what I do, and why I do it. Should I change direction, or go all in? Stay here, or move on?
As part of the figuring out process, I am re-reading Stephen Covey’s ‘7 Habits’. Among all the other brilliant insights is this nugget:
“A satisfied need no longer motivates.”
Ah. That makes sense. Fundamentally, my ‘needs’ are met. I am in the [extraordinarily privileged] position of being able to say I don’t want for anything. And so, my motivation has been low.
This is where discipline comes in.
There are still things I want to do – people I can help, causes I care about, experiences I want to have. All of which takes disciplined action on my part.
As with so many things, we need to find the balance. Taking physical health as an example, too little discipline around food makes us overweight – but too much ‘discipline’ can lead to equally unhealthy eating disorders.
We need to monitor our motivation, too. What are we motivated by? Something negative like greed or jealousy or insecurity? Or something more positive?
When we’re feeling unmotivated, being proactive – taking action – will help. And when we find ourselves caught in a vortex of reactivity, then pausing to consider our motivation will help.
Get the balance right, and the discipline feeds the motivation feeds the discipline feeds the motivation … it’s a virtuous circle.
It’s not either motivation or discipline. We need both.
[It’s always both.]