Psychology of the Warrior – Part 1: Motivation and Discipline

Podcast & Blog by Rory O’Connor

You can listen to this blog as a podcast.

Hi everyone and welcome to the first episode of the “Psychology of the Warrior” series. My plan for these is just to keep them about 5-6 mins so I don’t completely and utterly bore you. So, for those of you who don’t know me – my name is Rory O’Connor and todays topic will be on ‘Motivation’ and ‘Discipline’ with regards to exercise and well-being.

As of this date , which is the 26 of May 2020, we are currently still in lockdown. At this moment many of us – including myself, are struggling (to say the least!) to remain motivated in pursuing personal goals.

With lockdown measures restricting our capabilities to access resources; which aid in our development, it proves extremely difficult to stay on track with our objectives both physically and mentally.

I really want to focus here on ‘Motivation’ and ‘Discipline’ and what they mean, what is the difference between the two terms? As a result of ill-timed or improper use of language, these two are commonly used interchangeably – and frankly – it drives me crazy!

Oxford Dictionary as of 2020 has two definitions for ‘Motivation’ those being:

  • The reason why somebody does something or behaves in a particular way
  • The feeling of wanting to do something, especially something that involves hard work and effort.

We must remember language in itself is quiet arbitrary in its meaning as it is subjective to the individual – while we may understand the concept, it can be difficult to define what the term is what when speaking to a broad audience.

Now, being honest, I am not a fan of the terms, I believe they’re vague. I much prefer this term defined by one of my own lecturers where ‘Motivation’ is deemed as: the biological, emotional, cognitive or social forces that activate and direct behaviour. The key word here being ‘emotion’ .

Motivation in itself is a fantastic tool to get the ball rolling. So what are a few things we can do on a daily basis to improve our motivation? Start off with something small like cleaning your bedroom. It will give you the feeling of accomplishment and pride in what you have done. I know it’s a small deed but it will kickstart the process of realising that you are in control of what happens in your life. Other ways of eliciting motivation would, listening a motivational speech or just getting up every morning at the same time and having a daily morning routine.

Now when we talk about Discipline
‘Discipline’ has 4 definitions listed by the Oxford Dictionary. The most applicable to exercise and well-being is: A method of training your mind and body or controlling your behaviour; an area of activity where this is necessary.

The reason why I have chosen to mention the definitions is to give a baseline for the term so we understand what they are and how they play a role in the development of the self. So now that we have the boring definitions out of the way we can begin to understand how they apply differently to circumstances.

‘Motivation’ is a fantastic tool that gives us the initial drive to be able to pursue goals, but… what people forget or don’t realise is what I just mentioned.

It is an emotion, and just like any emotion it comes and goes.

The motivation will not always be there to pursue goals, in fact, there are going to be more days where you don’t feel motivated to go out and train, eat well or read a book, than days you do… and this idea that “Its always 100% all the time and nothing less” is completely absurd! Stop me if you haven’t heard this before: “oh he/she is just a motivated person.” It’s almost as if the speaker is trying to imply that it is just easier for some people to accomplish their goals because they have this magical god given, infinite source of motivation, ridiculous!

Nobody has that.

What these people fail to see is the discipline and hard work people put in to accomplishing their goals; the consistent effort day-after-day and never giving up, even when times get really tough, and you will have those days where you feel horrible, you’ve had a bad day at work and your partner is in a bad mood – the knock on effect is that it seems as if the world is just against you.

When those times present themselves, remember, this is the universe’s way of testing you… to see if you truly deserve your reward – whatever that may be, in our case it is progressing in martial arts and personal development.

‘Discipline’ is what we need get past those days and to continue on the path of development. A solid structure is what’s going to enable you to accomplish your goals more effectively and set you up for success. The next question then is “can anyone be disciplined?” and of course the answer is “YES!”…you must remember, everything you need to become the best version of yourself is already within you — it’s just a matter of sharpening those tools through practice.

If you want to start putting this in to practice, and as cliché as this may sound… write down on a piece of paper exactly what you need to accomplish, and don’t make these goals unrealistic, otherwise you’re not going to follow through with them; set specific time slots each day for certain goals

Now, the first 2 weeks will be a disaster until you figure out a plan which actually works for you. Get up early and chase those goals – especially now, use this downtime as a period of reflection and self improvement. I chose to speak on this topic at this critical time because, now more so than ever, it is vital to have a daily structure in place so that you can conceptualise, visualise, and go for your goals. This isn’t just training-specific mind you this must also include targets from other areas of your life such as work, relationship and hobbies for this to be practical and sustainable. If you apply this to your life you’ll find your overall sense of accomplishment will be much greater you’ll have more energy and you’ll realise that you are capable of accomplishing the goals you once thought were impossible.

Of course after all that, you’ll begin to question yourself.
What else are you capable of?