Motivation, Discipline + Balance

From exercising and studying to cleaning the toilets and folding fitted sheets, we do hard things during our day. Well, while the actual task may not be hard, motivating yourself to do it is hard. For many people, myself included, we sometimes need a pep talk to get started. I often hear people say they don’t have the motivation to do xyz. They need something to not only get them going, but keep them going.

*Thanks to Amanda for letting me ramble Think Out Loud!*

Motivation can only get you so far. Discipline is what keeps you going. Essentially, you need both for success. You know that saying we hear all the time but kind of dismiss? It’s spot on.

Great, now we are motivated and disciplined. We are heading straight for success. Right?



Here’s the problem, there’s such a thing as too much discipline. It’s what happens when you start doing things out of a compulsive habit instead of acting mindfully.

Some days I struggle to find the motivation to workout… or do homework… or do laundry… or whatever the task may be. But, for better or worse, I’ve always been disciplined. That’s the Type-A in me. I know what to do to feel better or make a change, so I do it. But sometimes, I have to focus that discipline on not being disciplined. Does that make sense?

It’s hard to imagine that something some people work so hard to get (discipline) can actually be a negative thing. “Too much of a good thing can be bad,” applies here. Whether it’s eating healthy, exercising, doing your homework or cleaning, what may start as motivation to change can lead to an obsession. One we don’t know we even have! It becomes so ingrained into our daily life that we become focused on reaching a certain mileage, steps, or reps.



My “plan” of having no plan has challenged me to loosen some of my disciplined tendencies and just let go. Easier said than done, for me at least, but it’s freeing to not always have a quantifiable goal. Sure, there are times when I’m a crazy list maker and need to accomplish everything, but I’m working to balance those with this relaxed approach.

Like most things, there is a season for everything. A season for setting goal, after goal, after goal and a season for just going with the flow. A season for eating super clean and a season for enjoying your all time favorite foods, whatever they may be. A season for working really hard in school/at work and a season for not always stressing and taking things so seriously. We can’t be “on” 24/7 and finding that balance seems to be the everlasting quest.

No questions. Just thoughts and opinions today. 


  1. Gretchen | gretchruns says

    I’m so with you on this. I’ve struggled with trying to balance too many things in my life and always trying to be the best at it. That’s led to getting injured, being stressed out, and not being happy. I’ve finally gotten to a point where I’m happy just being MY best- whether that’s being able to run 100 miles in a month or 10. Sometimes things come up in my life that prevent me from being able to train a ton and I do horribly in a race, but that’s alright! There’s always another race to run. I have to stop comparing myself with other people (which is tough since I read so many blogs!) I’ll never be as fast as some people I follow, or as strong as them, or as beautiful, but that’s alright. As long as I’m doing MY best, I’m alright!

  2. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says

    I don’t struggle with motivation, because I do have discipline and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It is if you never let yourself breath, but many people (too many) don’t have near enough discipline that they need and that’s why they complain about never meeting their goals, fitness, health, work/career, etc.
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted…Anti-Inflammatory Cherry SmoothieMy Profile

  3. Amanda @ .running with spoons. says

    Life-work balance is something I’m currently struggling with as well. With waaaaaay too much attention being given to the work side of things. Discipline is great since it’s what keeps you going when the initial honeymoon phase wears off, but there definitely comes a point where the more productive you try to be, the less productive you become.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. thinking out loud #119 .My Profile

    • says

      Exactly! Lately I can either be too disciplined or not at all (my lazy days) and then I feel guilty, blah, blah, blah. There’s a happy medium, I know it!

  4. Linda @ The Fitty says

    This past week I’ve been very laid back with eating and working out, ad I’m okay with it. It gives me time to do other things like meditate, or stretch. :) I agree there is a season for everything, and I’m sure I’ll get into a swing in a few weeks’ time of break.
    Linda @ The Fitty recently posted…5 Eats + I Watched Gone Girl {WIAW #12} {#LIPlinkup #18} {Friday 5 #5}My Profile

  5. pickyrunner says

    Yes yes yes. People often ask me “how do you make yourself get up and run before work in the morning?” The truth is, it takes no effort for me. It’s what I love to do. It takes me more discipline NOT to run in the morning. That’s just how we are! I’ve definitely been able to loosen the reins on a lot of areas of my life too though and it’s been a really awesome feeling. I’m happy you’re feeling the same way :)
    pickyrunner recently posted…Some orders of businessMy Profile

  6. [email protected] says

    Sometimes when we try to balance too much it becomes counterproductive. It’s great to read posts like these because it reminds us all that we have to enjoy the journey more. :)
    [email protected] recently posted…That time I had to learn how to spell again : Thursdays are for Thinking Out Loud.My Profile

    • says

      That’s one of the reasons I love blogging. Reading posts (and comments!) often remind me that I need to slow down and look at the bigger picture.

  7. Liv @ Healthy Liv says

    Gosh, it’s so hard to find the balance! I’m a disciplined person with the things I love like running and I used to be really disciplined about school (getting work done in advance and things like that)…

    but over the last year or two, my mindset’s changed. I have a lot more fun and am more spontaneous but I also have a lot more late nights and a lot less sleep haha :) Can’t have it all I guess!
    Liv @ Healthy Liv recently posted…It’s Cheaper than TherapyMy Profile

    • says

      I’ve honestly become less disciplined with school as the years go on. I used to stress about school but, like you, my mindset of “straight A’s” has changed. I still work hard but it’s much better this way!

  8. Emily @ Sweets and Beets says

    Emily, you’re such a good writer! I love this outlook – as a type A personality I also find it hard to “free” yourself by not always having a specific goal. And I laughed out loud at ‘folding fitted sheets’ ;D

    • says

      You’re so sweet :) Who has the freaking time or patience to fold fitted sheets? They need to come up with a better system haha

  9. Georgie Morley says

    This is wonderful Emily! I think you nailed it when you said there’s a season for everything. Sometimes discipline is a necessity when you have to accomplish something big and daunting (like running a marathon *cough cough*) but I can totally relate to how important (and sometimes really hard) it is to live in the moment and let go of rituals and rules
    Georgie Morley recently posted…How Vegans and Vegetarians Get Protein & a Sunwarrior ReviewMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks, friend :) It’s funny how some people hate rules and discipline while other people thrive off it. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to admit that it’s hard for me to let go of it!

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