It’s what sets those who finish apart from those who don’t.
Those who finish a novel. Those who finish a marathon. Those who finish blog post after blog post, day after day, week after week. Discipline is also a word that is thrown around and has lots of not always so positive connotations, but in light of pursuing a creative craft, what does it actually mean?
First and foremost, discipline means making time.
Everyone is busy. Everyone has many things going on. I’m a mom of two kids with a daycare. I have two dogs. I get busy. I get not having a minute to yourself all day. I understand trying to fit your craft into the nooks and crannies of your life.
However, if it’s important you make time. You record videos between periods of the Stanley Cup finals. You stay up late or get up early to write for your blog or in your novel. You steal away in the wee hours before sunrise to get a few miles in before everyone else wakes up.
If it’s important, you make time for it.
Then, when you do have some time you stumble across, you choose to do what you should do, even if you don’t feel like it.
Yes, sometimes we need a break. We need watch the next Star Wars movie because we’ve already watched the first four. We need to stare mindlessly at the screen or get together with friends to relax. I’m certainly not advocating pursuing your craft at the expense of your health and sanity.
However, more often than I’d like to admit, I’m guilty of searching through Netflix when I could be working on my next blog or planning where to go next in my series or editing my novel. Because my day is so busy, I get to the end of the night and think I deserve a break. Sometimes I do, but if I really want to be a writer, I have to commit to writing. Sometimes my break is writing. Sometimes it’s just as satisfying to get a few pages edited as it is to watch a movie or the next Walking Dead. Every so often, yeah, I need a break. More often than not, I need to take the 45 minutes it would take to do what I need to do.
In order to get that work done and not be sidetracked, you also need to create your most successful space.
Where do you work best?
When I start writing, I can write anywhere. If I’m planning, though, I get distracted by the internet. I get distracted by facebook and my email and whatever else happens to run by. Therefore, when I plan, I have to be offline.
I finally just bought a couple notebooks so I can do that planning I need to do. I’ve already gotten more planning done that I wanted to in the last few days than I’ve done in weeks. I’ve planned out blogs. I’ve planned out some leadership things. I’ve worked through some research that I’ve been trying to think through.
My most successful space is a distraction-free zone where I am comfortable and alone. That doesn’t happen very often around my house, so I do what I can with what I have. It means getting up early and hoping my kids sleep later than me. It’s staying up late and trying not to feel bad about going to bed at a different time than my husband. It’s trying to get all the kids to go down for a nap or at least play by themselves so I can maybe get an hour in during the day.
It’s making time when I can and trying to create my most successful space around that time I do have.
Finally, accountability is where the real game-changer is.
Do you have someone you can share your goals with who will keep you on track? Do you even have a plan that you’re trying to follow? If you don’t have a concrete plan, you’ll never know if you’re on track and if you never share your plan, you’ll never have that kick in the pants to keep yourself on track.
I have plans. I have spreadsheets of plans. However, it’s only when I have someone keeping me accountable that I stick to it the way I should.
Discipline is not innate. It’s learned, one decision, one day at a time. It will be what separates you from everyone else trying to do what you’re doing.
So keep on, make those good decisions, and grow your discipline.