Want a simple, three-item formula for reaching basically any goal? I’ve got you: motivation, discipline, and habit. That’s it. Those are the things you need. Fitness, diet, life–doesn’t matter. These three elements are critical skills that work as tools to get you started, keep you pushing through, and ultimately, to achieve whatever it is that you’d like to achieve. Want to break it down so you’re able to harness that power for yourself? Here’s how it all works out.


  • Powerful, but fleeting.
  • Required at the beginning of any change,  beneficial at every stage.
  • Can be internal or external.


  • Must be cultivated. Sometimes uncomfortable
  • Required for sustaining behaviors in the long term.
  • Internal. Comes from within.


  • Developed over time.
  • Action requires little to no thought. It’s almost a reflex.
  • Innately personal.

Motivation is fleeting. Discipline is faithful. Whereas motivation can come from anywhere, discipline comes from within. Discipline must be developed. It requires work–strength, effort, dedication. It’s a skill. If you’re lucky, the pursuits that you are dedicated to will become habits.

But! Here’s the thing that many people don’t realize: you don’t NEED motivation to be successful. You DO need discipline.

{and habit? That just makes everything a whole lot easier.}

Motivation isn’t enough. It often fails when, after making the initial steps to spur a change, you no longer have anything to look forward to, any deadline to meet, or any new hoops to jump through. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to stay totally motivated 24/7, 365. It’s a limited resource. This is a good thing! Motivation, especially if it’s external, can actually keep you dependent and lazy. Think about it–if you base all of your actions on your in-the-moment motivation, you rob yourself of the opportunity to develop willpower or dedication. Not especially motivated? Skip the gym. Don’t have an event coming up that you want to look amazing at? Feel free to take it easy. Motivation is a powerful tool, but it alone will not allow you to reach your goals.

Instead, use the momentum from your initial surge in motivation to cultivate discipline. With discipline, you’ll be able to do hard and uncomfortable things, and you’ll do them on your own. Discipline is taking action whether you want to or not, and whether you’re motivated or not. It doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect all of the time, but it does mean that you fake it until you make it sometimes. Discipline makes you reliable. If you’re disciplined, you do it. Committing to reaching your goals and actually DOING the actions that your goals require on a daily basis is disciplined. The more you practice those behaviors, the easier they will become. Eventually, many of those things will become HABITUAL. And once your actions become habits, not only will you not even feel like you’re being disciplined anymore, but you also won’t have to worry much about staying motivated. Once something is a habit, motivation becomes largely irrelevant.

So, if you’re struggling to meet your goals, work on improving your dedication. Once you have it, dedication is fixed. Don’t obsess over sustained motivation–you don’t need that. Instead, strengthen your resolve and perseverance. Motivation is nice because it makes things easier and more exciting, but dedication is far more valuable. Become a dedicated person. Doing so will make you feel capable, confident, and productive, and those are the feelings that will keep you going.

…at least until your changes become habits and you can  put everything  on autopilot. 😉



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