Motivation vs. Discipline

My college roommate once told me “Belinda, you are the most disciplined person I know!” I don’t know if I would say that about myself, but it does make me wonder, where do you find motivation to be disciplined to do all those things on your to do list?

Piano isn’t the easiest thing in this world of immediate satisfactions. It is a pretty old-fashioned activity, meaning it’s not something you can pick up and master or complete a boss battle in a just few hours. Improving in piano requires disciplined, daily practice. It’s kind of like brushing and flossing your teeth everyday to make sure you keep those pearly whites shining! You might not notice the day-to-day difference, but I’m sure your dentist can tell the difference 😉

When I was younger, just like any other kid, I didn’t like being disciplined. I had rather play with my neighbor instead of staying home to practice piano. Playing games was just more exciting and way easier! But my mom taught me to value being disciplined even when I didn’t “feel like it.” She got me into a good habit of practicing at certain times of the day (right after school) for x amount of time, regardless of whatever else was going on. Because of that, I got used to practicing regularly, and, after a while, motivation wasn’t as much a factor as the habit or discipline of practicing.

Let’s expand this to things outside of piano. This journey of life takes a long time to complete – an average of 78 years in the U.S. We have to stay motivated and be disciplined to fully enjoy this life and the process of growing!! In the grand scheme of life, learning to manage the balance of being motivated and disciplined through the practice of piano seems like a smaller, less consequential deal compared to other habits, such as exercising or showering regularly.

In the end, the key to success to anything is doing things when it is not easy, and that is definitely something you apply when learning piano. 🙂

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Belinda Juang is a private piano teacher who is also involved in the mental health community in San Diego, CA. You can connect with her here.

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