Discipline

I considered taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year, but decided against it. It’s in part because I don’t have nearly enough time to write some 50,000 words this month. I understand that the point is to get into a discipline of writing, and to challenge oneself to get that creativity going, but it’s just not going to happen for me. And here is why:

I’m not disciplined enough as it is.

Yep, it’s true. Confession time is here, and there you have it. I’m someone who desperately knows that routine and discipline will help me grow and thrive as a person and a Christian, but I have a hard time attaining it. I think a number of things contribute to this, and I also think it’s true for a lot of people. So here are a list of my excuses, and what’s I’m trying to do in order to get myself aligned in body, mind, and spirit.

1. I’m lazy. Mhmm, it’s true. Sometimes I put off things that are important (like devotions, going to the gym, or communicating with family) simply because I just don’t feel like doing it. I’d rather read a non-school related book, or watch Downton Abbey, or bake a million cookies. I think most of it has to do with the fact that I get my energy from being alone and doing things I love, but sometimes it’s just laziness.

So here’s what I’ve been trying to do: schedule down time and make it as important as the other things I need to schedule. Self-care is important, in moderation. If I allot myself a couple of hours to do whatever my heart desires, then I feel more inclined to accomplish more important things as well. Also, I’ve been setting goals. For example, I have a goal for what I want to accomplish through clean eating and going to the gym, and it motivates me to fight laziness. I have a list of things I want to do and have to do before I go back to Ireland in the summer, and it motivates me. One step closer to the places I want to be.

2. I procrastinate. I’m the person that has a million good intentions and then puts all of it off until there’s no time left to accomplish anything. Papers, exam prep, writing letters to friends, working out–you name it, I put it off. This has gotten me in trouble in university, because I know I can put off an essay and still get a decent mark. But that mark wasn’t really earned. It’s just dumb luck, really. I didn’t work hard to get it. I don’t get the same sense of satisfaction when I rush to accomplish something. Academic hubris is also a colour that doesn’t look good on anyone.

That being said, I’ve been trying to use every spare moment to get ahead of things. I’m a list maker: I like having things ordered and laid out in front of me. I make lists of things I have to read and write for school, goals at the gym, groceries to buy, people to call, people to e-mail, etc. It’s not a perfect way of eradicating my chronic procrastinating, but it’s helping!

3. I don’t know enough. Something that takes away from my dream of a disciplined life is a lack of understanding. Disciplines in a spiritual sense are important to practice. Things like prayer, silence, confession, worship, and sabbath keeping are vital to the Christian life. They make for healthy Christians, close community with God and other believers, and a deeper knowledge of God. I learned a lot about spiritual disciplines when I was an RA at school, but sort of let them fall by the wayside. Realizing that my spiritual life affects every other area of my life, I see that setting aside time for something like prayer will impact every part of me.

I’ve been learning to prioritize. My health has become very important to me, so I’ve been learning and reading more about what’s good to eat and what’s not, and how active I should be. My faith is the most vital thing in my life, so I’m trying to get deeper in my walk with God. Reading Scripture, praying, seeking fellowship with other believers, and reading some awesome books (watch for a post on this later!) has helped me understand how important spiritual discipline is. My family is important to me as well, and considering that I intend to leave the country in the near future, I’ve been taking every opportunity to spend time with them. I’ve been writing letters to my friends, Skyping with people in other parts of the country, planning trips to see people I may not see for years, and praising God for the absolute gift my life is.

My life is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I have a responsibility to get myself in order and be disciplined, if I hope to live this life well. So maybe next year I’ll have time for something like NaNoWriMo, but for now, I’m working on discipline itself. And I’m quite happy with that.

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