Thursday, May 27, 2010

The D Word

Why do some people get things done, but others don’t? I think it comes down to the D word: discipline.

Some people are content to get by at their day jobs and spend their spare time with families, friends and hobbies. Maybe to them, the best weekend is one spent watching sports and tossing back a few brewskies. Others are willing to work weekends because they’re driven to climb the corporate ladder or reach for their dreams, whether it’s going back to get that master’s degree or writing and trying to sell a novel(s). Even if their pursuit means long hours and foregoing social events. Even if it means no guarantees, takes years and the odds are stacked against them.

Still others say over and over that they want to do X (even if it’s just cleaning out the garage), but add “some day” and do nothing because some day never comes. It’s always today. Or they take baby steps, but get easily frustrated when they don’t see immediate results (or, as with cleaning the garage, things get messier before they get better) and give up. They can’t see the big picture.

Not surprisingly, some definitions of discipline include self-control:  not giving in to every impulse for immediate gratification.

Most days I am disciplined...I complete the daily goals I set, which often include a certain number of proactive efforts or pages to write.  Other days, it's hard not to succumb to the lure of a beautiful day, a leisurely lunch with a friend or catching up with TiVo.  Because, of course, I have really good reasons:  We don't have that many great weather days in Chicago. I haven't seen Y friend in a long time and she's busy.  If I don't watch the finale of Z reality TV show now, I won't be able to go online without finding out who won.  That's when self-discipline and self-control need to kick in.  When I have to convince myself that getting at least some work done is more important in the long run than slacking off today. “Contrary to common belief, self-discipline is not a severe and limited behavior or a restrictive lifestyle. It is a very useful inner power, which enables one to persevere and not give up, in spite of failure and setbacks. It grants its possessor self control, and the ability to resist temptations and distractions that tend to stand in the way of attaining aims and goals. In fact, it is one of the most important pillars of real and stable success.”

Some motivational quotes from the same site, here.

Developing self-discipline: “Learning life mastery and personal discipline will only come about when you set precise goals that you wish to achieve. Self-discipline goals are somewhat different than success-oriented goals, in that self-discipline goals are defined by personal improvement. Once you identify areas of your life that you wish to gain total control over, you have now defined specific areas of improvement.”

Discipline.  One day at a time.

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