A few weeks ago, I was visiting a lab at my undergrad university. On one of the walls in the lab was a sign. The sign read:

Don’t rely on motivation for anything. It is fleeting and unreliable. Discipline, however, is unyielding. Force yourself to follow through.

Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about that sign and its message. As far as Bearz Repeating goes, this month has been dreadful: I’ve written one post when I should have finished four, and that one was both late and fairly content-light. Thinking back on the past month, it’s clear that I’ve been running low on motivation this November, and that I’ve lacked the discipline to make up for it.

So what’s the solution? To be honest, I don’t fully know. But I think this post is a good start. It’s admitting that I’ve screwed up, but also giving myself permission to move on. That doesn’t mean I have to be happy about the fact that I didn’t deliver on my promises to you, my readers. But I can’t change the past. Acknowledging that it happened, and figuring out how to improve, are far better than avoiding the truth. (It turns out there’s science behind this.)

Plus, writing feels good. Reminding myself of that is important, too — even though this emotion falls under the category of motivation, rather than real discipline. Even so, in spite of its somewhat difficult content, I’ve enjoyed writing this article. For the first time in a while, I have more thoughts and more words than I need, which means I get to select and deploy only the best, choicest sentences and ideas, saving the others for later, in a post where they are better suited. This is an enviable place to be in, and it makes me very excited for the future.

For now, my focus is building better discipline. If you have suggestions about this, let me know! I’m all ears.

Having reflected on my own habits, one strategy I want to employ is focusing on particular projects on certain days of the week — and actually maintaining that schedule consistently. In spite of writing about it earlier, I haven’t been doing a great job at separating urgent tasks from important ones. That’s resulted in my choice of what to work on being fairly haphazard and highly dependent on what happens to have my attention at the moment. While this sort of “bursty” work pattern is acceptable for some projects, it’s not sustainable in the long-term. It also makes it difficult to predict when I’ll finish a project, and it doesn’t work well for tasks with strict deadlines (like Bearz Repeating).

So with that in mind, I’m re-committing to the goal of finishing Bearz Repeating before the Wednesday deadline — on Mondays, specifically. Even though I’m apprehensive about failing again, it feels good to set a specific goal I can work towards. So I’m already looking forward to this coming Monday. And if you know me on Facebook, feel free to be my “accountabili-buddy” and ask me how things are going!

See you Wednesday.

2 thoughts on “Discipline

  1. Procrastination is a life long problem for me. And I typically only get something done JUST before a deadline. If then.

    ALSO fear of failure, factors into most of my plans. And since I hate to fail — as I then feel SO unworthy, having failed for often and so hard … I do nothing and allow my hopes and dreams to float way through the years.

    Lately I’ve gone from 100% reading for years of highly complex buddhist texts to now — delving into the psychology of trauma and now even more so trauma vis a vis yoga.

    I’d suggest —- failure isn’t the end but the beginning.

    Brene Brown — PhD in research and famous now for her TED talks on Vulnerability and Shame — has a terrific book called “Daring Greatly”

    Which quotes Ted Roosevelts speech about “the man in the arena who dares greatly”

    Watch her TED talk. She’s real.

  2. I used to have massive problems scheduling & maintaining my time (still do in a lot of ways). One of the biggest things that’s helped me is scheduling things I enjoy to do, putting it on my calendar when necessary, and trying not to feel guilty about doing it. It leaves me something to look forward to, and even if that time is before I actually do the rest of the work, it’s enough of a framework to keep me from just procrastinating and doing nothing. Doing something fun with some defined terms is a good way to start doing *something.*

    I like to think in terms of habits more than discipline. Habit is the real power player–things you do habitually get you into a flow state, and let you do potentially complex things with much less energy. Disciplined people have built up a lot of small habits over a long period of time. It’s really important to remember that building or breaking habits takes a lot more energy than going with the flow. Small changes over time are easier to accomplish than big ones overnight.

    I can point you to some interesting books if you’d like.

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