Discipline vs. Desire
Yesterday was one of the days that makes you want to play hooky, no matter how much you love what you do. Sunny skies, warm temperature, windows thrown open to expose the house to the breeze.
It’s the kind of day that makes people say “I don’t know how you can work from home (or work for yourself). I’d never get any work done! I just don’t have the discipline for it.”
Want to know a secret? It has nothing to do with discipline. It’s about knowing what you want and why you want it, and going after it with the heat of a thousand suns. It’s about desire.
This isn’t limited to working from home on a bright and sunny day, either. If you have difficulty “forcing” yourself to work on something, or if you’re easily distracted by laundry and TV, your priorities and desire simply aren’t high enough for this particular project or idea. That’s not to say that you’ll spend all your waking hours hyper-focused on one solid thing – though some people do – but that when you want something, truly want something, you will do everything it takes to make that happen.
Desire, A Mop, and a Choice
See, given the choice between, say, writing a blog post or mopping the floor, you’re going to do one or the other. But you won’t be distracted from mopping by writing any more than you’re being distracted from writing by mopping. Whatever path you take, it’s a choice. You choose to mop or you choose to write.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to get in tune with your gut and your values, so that when you are faced with that choice between mopping and writing, you can make the right choice, in that moment, for you.
So if you’re mopping, it’s because having a clean house is more important to you in that moment than blogging.
And if you’re blogging, it’s more important to you in that moment than writing.
Desire alone isn’t enough
Even when you’re aligned with and trusting your internal compass, you can easily flit from one thing to another without making much progress or catching a wave of momentum to ride. That’s where vision, focus, and flow come in.
Vision: Beyond your guts and your value lies your vision: the long-term, where-you-wanna-go abstract goal. Not dollars and cents, or numbers, or a list of accomplishments and awards, but the “why” that lives at the heart of everything you do. That’s your vision.
Focus: Achieving that vision takes a series of steps, most of them so small that if you blink, you might miss them. When faced with a choice, an action you can take, consider whether or not it is a stepping stone on the path to your vision, and whether it fits what you’re trying to accomplish. If not: does your vision need to be adjusted? Focus is the scale on which you can weigh your choices.
Flow: While there’s something to be said for going with what feels right in the moment, jumping from one project, idea, or task to another can be disorienting and frustrating – especially on days when you feel like you’re not gaining any traction. Flow is the process of grouping things together in a way that works for you, instead of shifting between unrelated tasks. Can you group your writing tasks together? Polish off filing and email in one fell swoop? When a task grouping feels good for you, stick with it, stacking smaller groupings together to create beautifully flowing days.
What do you really want to do today?
Image by Bark (CC BY) via Flickr