Friday, November 28th, 2014

Discipline – How To Keep Going When You Don’t Want To Keep Going

Published on October 9, 2011 by   ·   No Comments

Writing Our Way Home/ElephantJournal

Discipline. What does the word conjure up for you? Stern faces? Failure? Childhood memories of sitting miserably with your maths homework in front of you, the sun shining outside?

I wouldn’t have finished a single novel if I hadn’t made use of great dollops of discipline, never mind four. I imagine there might be authors that skip happily to their desks every morning, but I’ve not met any of them. Getting myself to sit down and open my manuscript can be quite a battle.

However, I don’t believe that discipline has to be about threatening ourselves with a stick (and Gunaratana agrees, in my favourite quote about discipline, below). Discipline is a gift – it whispers in our ears to remind us about what’s important, and it offers us a hand when we want to give up.

Here are my suggestions to help you cultivate your capacity to keep on going.

1. Make sure your goals are utterly aligned with what’s important to you
Life is hard enough without setting ourselves goals that don’t really matter to us, and then holding ourselves tightly to them. Ration your discipline – use it when you really need it. If you find yourself setting too many unrealistic goals and then failing miserably at most of them, what else might be driving you?

2. Be gentle with yourself
We are all human beings. We are frail, we make mistakes every five minutes, we fail to meet the expectations we set for ourselves. Sensible contrition followed by appropriate action is right and proper, but I don’t believe that it adds anything helpful if we beat ourselves up. Instead, remind yourself that you are human like everyone else, do what you can to rectify the situation, forgive yourself, and think carefully about how you can support yourself better when the same situation arises again.

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