As many of you know, I have two twins who are ending their freshman year in high school. Our mornings usually begin with me driving them to school, one of my favorite times of today. This morning, I was talking about how being lazy and unmotivated weren’t that different… Then, my daughter broke in from the seat beside me. 

“Dad, they’re not the same at all. I can be unmotivated and still get something done. It’s called discipline. If I’m lazy, no amount of discipline will change that. I’m just lazy.”

Drop the mic. This girl’s going places.

She was right. Being unmotivated and lazy ARE different. A little discipline can go a long way to move you when you’re feeling unmotivated. Think about this example. The alarm goes off at five, and I’m supposed to go to the gym. If I am unmotivated but disciplined, I put my feet on the floor and get moving. If I am lazy and undisciplined, I roll over and go back to sleep. 


We like to put motivation on a pedestal like there’s something magic about it. It’s great to think that we can wake up and naturally feel this thing in our gut that makes us want to work hard – that thing that motivates us to get up early, stay up late, and get things done in the middle. Motivation is the kind of word that makes for a great hashtag in our Instagram posts. It’s so… nice. 

Discipline, however, is a different story. No one wants to talk about discipline. Bringing up the word “discipline” immediately conjures up childhood memories of punishment and images of doing hard things that we’re not motivated to do… the things we do because we have to. I “have to” do this to achieve my goals and dreams. I “have to” do this to keep myself from experiencing pain. I “have to” do this to reach the destination I’ve set for myself. 

No matter where our “have to” comes from, being disciplined is what creates action and movement. It forces us to tap into something deep and gritty to get past the “I don’t feel like it” moments. Discipline is dirty and raw. Being motivated, on the other hand, feels more like birthday cake. It’s fluffy, it tastes better, and it melts in your mouth. Discipline requires gnawing and chewing. 

Motivation rolls off your tongue. Discipline comes out with a growl and some spit.

Most days, I’m motivated to write this blog. It makes me feel good, it fills me up, and it’s aligned with my purpose. But what about the days when I don’t feel like it – when I’m unmotivated, tired, busy, and don’t feel like putting a keyboard at my fingertips? What then? Those are the moments when I have to tap into discipline, and a little bit goes a long way.

The Takeaway

Let’s start here. If you’re reading this, I don’t believe you are lazy. If you were, you would have quit by now, or this message would have turned you off. 

You may, however, have moments where you feel unmotivated. Along the path you’re on, you’re going to experience those moments where the challenges, the trials, and the long road leave you tired, stale, indifferent, or uninspired. When those feelings land, the only thing that will keep you moving is discipline. So tap into it, dig deep, gnaw and spit. 

Know this. Most of the time, feeling unmotivated happens for just a short time or a season. It is rarely permanent and almost always ends with a burst of motivation on the other side. So do whatever you need to do today to be disciplined and push through. There’s a reward waiting for you if you do.

Thank you for taking this journey with me. To receive weekly encouragement and the push to stay disciplined, follow me here!

– John