How is it that some people just seem to get so much done? They manage to publish a book or create a new product/work of art, while others sit around dreaming of things they want to accomplish, becoming frustrated when none of it comes to fruition?
The secret to getting things done is walking the fine line between self-discipline and self-care.
Picture this: you’re staring at a white screen/blank canvas — the quintessential artist’s dilemma. Do you walk away, do you stare at the screen and stay committed to this time you have set aside for your work, or do you check your Inbox or Facebook?
The choice you make will change your life. As Mark Divine teaches:
“The quality of your life is made up of the moment to moment choices.”
Those small choices may not seem like a big deal, but they make the difference between the person who talks about writing a book and the person who actually writes one. It’s the difference between the person who says they want to create art, and the person who creates their art no.matter.what.
When it comes to your art/business/creative endeavors, nobody is pushing you to get it done. You need to push yourself. And if you’re like most people, you’ll likely face resistance – the voice inside you that tells you to check your inbox one more time before getting down to work.
Steven Pressfield, who popularized/coined the term resistance in his book The War of Art, teaches us that resistance is a force of nature. We all get confronted with it.
Resistance can show up in sneaky ways, especially because the mind is so powerful. You can make yourself believe anything you want, even convincing yourself that in the name of self-care you’re going to take a break/have fun and check Facebook instead of staying committed to working on your art.
And this is why it’s sneaky: there’s a time for self-care and a time for discipline. There’s a time to push through resistance and a time to take a break. Being able to distinguish the difference between truly needing a break and being confronted with resistance is the difference between having a dream and actively working on and completing your goals.
You see, if you’ve been working 6 days straight, writing daily, and on day 7 you hit a wall and stare at a blank screen, it’s pretty obvious that it’s time to take a break and practice self-care. I believe self-care is necessary for making great strides in your business and creative pursuits. But when you use self-care as an excuse — that’s when you get into tricky territory and run the risk of treading the fine line of lack of discipline in the name of self-care.
On the other hand, imagine it’s Monday morning and you’ve had a weekend of play and rest, and you wake up and think to yourself, “What’s the point of writing/working on [insert your creative project here]?” Despite waking up to that thought, you manage to open up your Word document as you stare at a blank screen. Thirty seconds pass and anxiety fills your blood. You mind is coursing with empty splatters.
Thirty seconds feels like an hour and with all that anxiety you decide to check your inbox. You then go to Facebook. You look through funny cat videos and tell yourself “Well, I guess I just needed some self-care this morning.”
I’m calling BS on that. And it’s because I’ve done it one too many times. And I know I’m not alone. This is an example of resistance taking over and using self care as the excuse that stops you from taking action on your work.
It’s in these moments that we have two choices, as Steven Pressfield speaks about in his book Turning PRO:
Do we become a PRO and do the work anyways (That would mean keep sitting in front of that blank screen, writing and deleting words as long as you need before something comes out)?
Or are you an amateur: The moment anxiety/fear hits—you cave to the force of resistance and hit up Facebook or your Inbox?
The worst part is your Inbox and Facebook are tricky bastards. They can give you the impression that either:
- You’re working or
- That you’re taking time for self-care/time off
NEITHER Are True. Both Are Illusions
Your Inbox and Facebook are not YOUR WORK. And when I use those words “YOUR WORK” I’m talking about your soul-inspired work, your art, your entrepreneurial projects.
Your Inbox and Facebook are at best, administrative duties in your business (which have their time and place) and at worst are distractions, the partner of resistance.
And although reading through your newsfeed may give you the illusion of self care/taking a break, it’s not the kind of self-care that will refresh you on a deep level (99% of the time anyways).
True self-care involves getting away from technology. True self-care involves an activity that restores you, gives you peace, a sense of vitality, play, fun, or rest.
Most of the time, being online ends up creating more anxiety and is overwhelming, especially if we get hit up by guilt for wasting hours on distractions.
True self-care will give you the juice to focus on your creative endeavors, whereas distractions will deplete you, leaving you in dire need of restoration.
The Missing Piece Here Is Discipline & Honesty
- First get honest with yourself. Self awareness is the key to success. If you know your go-to distractions, it makes it easier to whip ‘em down, and get back to work.
- Understand that discipline is not easy, and it’s the number one reason people fail to follow through on their dreams.
Discipline is simple. Discipline means creating a schedule where you carve out a specific time to do YOUR WORK.
Discipline is not easy, because when that time comes there will often be other urgent demands calling for our attention.
Discipline is a choice: do you choose to stay committed to YOUR WORK or do you fall to the pull of resistance and distractions?
Here’s the deal: if you need a day off — then be honest with yourself and take a day off. But don’t blur the lines between self care and lack of discipline.
And you know what? There’s a magic that happens when you choose to sit in front of that blank screen.
First, you need to get through the anxiety/frustration/distractions/mind chatter (aka resistance).
If you keep sitting there, your art will unfold.
That’s how I wrote this piece: it was a choice to do my work, and not fall prey to the false illusion that my administrative duties were my work.
- Know what YOUR WORK is: it could be your physical workout, a book you’re writing, a blog post you’re working on, a workshop you’re organizing, or any other creative endeavor you want to see come to life.
- Create a structure to make it happen. This is discipline. Discipline is simple: it’s as simple as writing into your calendar when you plan to focus on YOUR WORK. Note: Simple doesn’t mean easy!
- As Steven Pressfield teaches: know in advance that resistance will come to meet you. Your job is to beat it so that you do YOUR WORK.
- Self Awareness is key: if you know your go-to distractions, you can set yourself up for success. Most people fall prey to distractions because of lack of awareness/consciousness. Awareness is always the first step to change
- Be honest with yourself: know when you truly need a break, and be open to giving yourself a true rest. Whether that means taking a nap, going to a park, meditating, or going on a bike ride. For your own well-being, make sure your time-off is a genuine restoration, and not trolling around Facebook.
For extra inspiration, Watch This: http://youtu.be/k1DTyOmaydA
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