I’ve struggled with routine and self-discipline for much of my life. I was often reminded of it by the people around me.

Lazy. Absent-minded. Forgetful. Scatter-brained. Irresponsible. Undisciplined.

At the end of the day undisciplined is probably the best descriptor of what was going on.

Discipline for me evokes ideas of tasks that are militant, regimented, punitive, repetitive, boring, crushing, isolating, separating, removing, suffering, and helpless in nature. With a descriptive list like this OF COURSE there is not a lot of positivity associated with discipline. Routine and schedule are words that also suffer by association.

Here’s the magic though, Now that I can see and understand my beliefs surrounding these words, I get to choose how I perceive these terms going forward.

I am not a completely free-floating spirit at the whim of my emotions or the beliefs of others, but I do tend to avoid routines because they don’t “feel good.” I don’t like to be told what to do by anyone- even myself (frustratingly). My siblings and I have even held the motto: “I do what I want.” It definitely does not help my self confidence to work at the whim of these beliefs.

So what’s the resistance here? What patterns am I playing out by not adhering well to a schedule? A lot of the time I don’t enjoy what I need to be doing. I know, lame excuse, but hear me out. If I have a weight workout on the schedule but I don’t enjoy weight workouts because they are painful, what is the likelihood that I’m going to be diligent about showing up for a workout? If I find grocery shopping overwhelming, what is the likelihood that I’ll go if I have literally any excuse not to? A lot of the time HOW I’m getting things done is what’s throwing off my focus. Everything is a distraction if I’m not getting things done in a way that makes sense to me. If it causes me suffering, I’m definitely going to describe the task using the terms above.

There are a lot of habitual ways of getting things done that I was raised with that just don’t work for me right now. They never really did, but I grew up with people hassling me to get them done. It’s not a very good way to connect with the people you love, by the way. However, all of these tasks are essential and still end up on my to-do list. Not surprisingly, they all end up with me procrastinating and avoiding doing them.

Changes that I’ve had to make to adapt certain activities include ordering groceries online or doing workouts that are more full-bodied things like trail-runs or Pilates. I’ve also had to really inventory what is important to me and what serves me. When I have activities that build me up, sustain me, and make sense to the life I desire, I find that I have more energy and more will-power to get through things that I don’t enjoy as much.

So what do I enjoy? What are things that help me get through my day and my less-tolerable tasks? The things that serve me are:

  • My spiritual practice- journaling and pulling oracle/tarot cards to help remind and focus me on what is what is important in this life.
  • Hydration- drinking enough water keeps me feeling more vibrant and energetic.
  • Eating- eating when I’m hungry is important and keeps me able to engage in life in a meaningful way.
  • Sleeping- allows my body to rest and heal appropriately.
  • Cleaning- serves me by allowing me an uncluttered/distraction-free environment to work in.
  • Blogging/Twitter/Instagram- this is my self-expression and it’s important to how I grow.
  • Reading- this is how I expand my knowledge and inspire myself to experience more of this life.
  • Meditating- getting quiet allows me to honestly identify what’s going on in my experience without all of the life-interference.
  • Movement- allows me to experience physical joy in this body and keeps me mobile and feeling well.

Having identified these 9 areas of importance has been critical for allowing me to get through tasks that might not be as joyful as some other activities might be. When I can point at what serves me and ascribe meaning to some of the tasks I need to accomplish, there is a bit of ease that comes and helps me move forward. I need to find a way to grocery shop so I have food to eat. I need to go to bed early to get enough sleep. I need to make conscious decisions to dring water throughout the day.

I am still trying to establish good routines and trying to remove some of the negative beliefs I have surrounding having to do things that aren’t pleasant. There is nobody around to hassle me into getting things done anymore… There is actually nothing that says I have to do anything at all. The self image that I have of myself says otherwise- I want to be able to be more reliable and be able to take on another big project. I know I have been self-disciplined in the past. I have found meaning and joy in running, completing a University degree, and in raising my daughter and taking care of my dog. None of these things were in and of themselves joyful, but they were all meaningful. I know that I can find meaning in a bigger project again, but for now I am content to pour my blooming discipline into meeting my basic needs as well as I can and finding joy in my content creation. Any good example of being disciplined shifts the negative beliefs and I know the definitions will change.

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