I have been investigating the difference between discipline and motivation by applying it to my life recently, and this has lead me to find some interesting things. I cannot remember where I first read about this concept, however, it has been stuck in my head ever since.
The concept is that while motivation is fluctuating and unreliable, discipline isn’t. Motivation will come and go as it pleases, whereas discipline can be used at any given time. Therefore, when you begin to struggle with doing things as your motivation has run dry, you use discipline to do these things regardless; as they need to be done whether you choose to do them, or not.
As a person who suffers from mental illness, I am aware that it is not as simple as forcing yourself to do things. Although I have found that discipline certainly does work, it does not mean that you should continuously push yourself past your limits, as this will not end well.
It is necessary to find out what it is that you are capable of in your current state and use discipline to achieve this, without pushing yourself too hard resulting in more damage than progress being caused.
With discipline, it is extremely important to apply regular forms of self care, including giving yourself a break. You do need to be cautious and self aware when applying this concept to your life, as well as looking out for signs that could indicate that you are pushing yourself too hard. Forcing yourself to complete tasks may make things non-enjoyable, therefore I recommend applying this concept to the things that you like and/or want to do; whilst finding a medium where you can complete tasks which are necessary, but may be found to be unpleasant; such as the upkeep of your hygiene and the cleanliness of your surroundings.
There is also a big issue I have with this concept when it comes to the stigmatisation of mental illness. We are told far too often that we are lazy, and that we just need to do all the things that our mental illness prevents us from doing, and we’re cured. As anyone who suffers from a mental illness will know, this is blatantly ridiculous. There will be days, possibly weeks or months, where simply getting out of bed is all you can do, and that is perfectly okay. That does not show a lack of discipline, or lazy behaviour. You are ill, and there are times when your illness will take over; and this concept can no longer be applied. However, you can begin to apply it to your life again when you are well, there is no rush; your health is far more important than the things you do.
As previously stated, and with significant caution, I have been applying this concept to my life over the past few weeks or so. Although it certainly has been a struggle, I have found that it does work and that it has prevented me from giving up, and allowing my illness to take over, which is what typically happens when I begin to feel this way. After months of continuous hard work, I am seemingly beginning to get somewhere with my writing, and that is a truly amazing feeling. I am preparing for a work-filled year, where I can hopefully continue to make progress with both my mental health and my writing.
I am giving my life purpose once again.