Your life isn’t defined by a single moment of emotion.

It’s defined by a set of actions you take, especially actions you take consistently, repeatedly, and in spite of how you feel when you take them.

Some might call these “habits.”

Here’s how I look at it.

Sometimes, sets of actions you take come naturally and are easy to do over long periods of time. Those are what I call habits. This can look like smoking, drinking, or playing video games.

On the other hand, some sets of actions don’t come as naturally and you may struggle to do them on a consistent basis. This can look like writing online or making videos for your side hustle.

If you continue to take those actions in spite of how you feel anyway, that is what I call discipline.

Thus, this is what I mean when I say “motivation isn’t real.”

Motivation is just how you feel about something in the moment. It’s an emotion, and emotions are fleeting.

It’s not the act of feeling motivated that changes anything in your life. It’s what you do afterward that counts.

It’s also about for how long do you consistently take those actions, regardless of how you’re feeling when taking them.

Discipline is what’s real.

Some actions lead to change instantly. Others require consistency and continued effort to have any significant effect.

For example, breaking up with an abusive boyfriend might change your life quite a bit immediately. But discontinuing that pattern of falling for abusive boyfriends requires consistency and continued effort on your part.

That’s where discipline comes into play.

People get motivated all the time. It’s easy to watch some motivational video on YouTube where someone triumphantly spouts motivational platitudes while stock footage of someone at the gym plays in the background.

After watching one of those, it’s easy to get motivated. I totally get it. You might tell yourself: “I’m definitely going to hit the gym tomorrow morning and work on getting that dream body I’ve always wanted!”

And let’s say you end up doing that, because you are, for the moment, motivated. And you feel good about yourself, so you do it the next day too.

But what about after the initial burst of motivation?

What about a week later? A month later? A year later?

Are you still going to the gym then?

Are you doing everything that’s necessary to get that dream body? Changing your diet, eating habits, etc.?

You might let muscle soreness slow you down. You might get injured using the gym equipment one day. Maybe some jock at the gym criticizes your form and degrades you and the incident discourages you from going.

The problem with your brain is that it’s very good at coming up with reasons not to do something.

The mind is rather exceptional at justifying anything it wants to, whether it aligns with your long-term goals or not. It can search for any excuse to give up, if that’s what it desires.

I talk about it like it’s a separate organism with a will of its own, but sometimes, that’s exactly what your mind feels like; a separate being with its own agenda, working against you.

If you want to be consistent with anything, you need to be aware of this and push through the mental roadblocks that your mind tries to hinder you with.

The mind likes the path of least resistance. But we all know that growth doesn’t happen in the comfort zone.

Long-term action leads to long-term results.

I wrote about the importance of prioritizing long-term gratification over short-term gratification a month ago.

Your short-term burst of motivation won’t serve you well if what you’re seeking is long-lasting, impactful change.

I promise I understand it’s not always easy to stick with something, especially when at first it doesn’t seem like you’re getting anywhere.

You might not notice any significant changes after a week or two of going to the gym, so you might think that going is a pointless endeavor.

You might not gain much readership or build much of an audience with your writing after doing it for a month, so you might take that as a sign that writing isn’t your thing.

But unfortunately...

The only way you’ll know for sure what you’re capable of is if you stick with something for a while.

The only way you’ll see results worth writing home about is if you commit to something for a sufficient amount of time.

As I said earlier, motivation is fleeting.

If you don’t want your results to be, your effort can’t be either.