Saturday, July 9, 2011

On Discipline. Or, why I'm posting this entry an hour before the deadline passes.

The challenge I drew out of the fishbowl this week comes from my dad. It read, “Big girl things you want to learn, how to cook specific stuff, race car driving, etc.” I’m going to rephrase the question slightly.

What do I need to learn before I can consider myself an adult?

This was the question I mulled over all week. I thought about typical things adults do that I should probably learn, like cooking, writing thank you notes, calling my grandparents on a more regular basis.

And then I had this scary thought: I’ll never stick with it, anyway.

I say that thought was scary, because I immediately tried to think of things that I’ve tried and have stuck with.  Nothing came to mind.  I’ve piddled around with various hobbies-- knitting, drawing, the guitar, reading the entire Bible in a summer, the ukulele, learning another language, running. Still, when people ask me what I’m interested in or what my hobbies are, I usually hem and haw for a few seconds for saying, “Uh, I really like to read.” Or when people ask me what I want to do with my life and I say I want to write, they ask if I wrote for the school paper, or they ask what kinds of things I like to write. Once again, I falter, offering lame excuses and vague theories.

The solution isn’t to begin yet another project or pick up yet another trendy hobby. The solution is a lifestyle of discipline-- a lifestyle that leaves no space for procrastination or excuses. I could give you a whole list of reasons why I’m posting this blog so late on Friday, but it comes down to this: I lack discipline.

Even today, it was the prodding and pestering of my family and my boyfriend that got me to finally sit down and type out these embarrassing admissions.  It wasn’t my own inherent drive to stick to a deadline I have set for myself for every Friday for an indefinite period of time. Sure, I was going to be slightly ashamed that I missed a deadline only one week after making a big deal about getting serious about writing, but I was already formulating a pithy excuse to post alongside the link to this blog whenever I got around to putting it up. Instead, I’m slightly embarrassed that this entry is substandard, but I’m also slightly proud that I’m posting it on the day I’ve committed to.

There’s a theory that it takes two weeks to form a habit. I can tell you that last year, I ran on a consistent schedule for 9 weeks, only to drop the habit when I inevitably found other things to occupy my time. To be an adult, I need to learn discipline, and no formula or prescription is going to make that happen overnight. And to be honest, I don’t know what it’ll take to permanently change, but I think this blog will be a small lesson every week-- either forcing me to grow and develop in a disciplined life, or reminding me of how far I still have to go.

As always, I’d love to hear your ideas and challenges for future topics on this blog, and this week, I’d also be interested in hearing how discipline plays a role in your life. How did you learn it? In what areas of your life have you seen the benefits of discipline?

1 comment:

  1. MR, you are so beautiful. Seriously, I love hearing your heart and so appreciate your honesty. Don't fool yourself - living a disciplined life is something most of us probably struggle with (we just don't have the courage for public admittance). As followers of Jesus we are called/commanded to lead disciplined lives. I echo your struggle. I'd stick with something for a while, but never long enough. I think my biggest struggle was a result of thinking too long term. Here's the most important thing I've learned: Living a disciplined life is a a choice you have to make daily. Every. Single. Day. Over and over. So often I get so caught up in tomorrow and the next day and next year that I loose sight of today. And in the end, today is all that matters, and all we're guaranteed. Remember Outward Bound? Be here now. Praying for you.