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The D Word

Updated: May 2, 2020

I pride myself on not being trifling every day.

Allow me to explain:

My shadow. It follows me everywhere.

I have a severely addictive personality. Anything I do, I overdo. If I buy a pack of chocolate chip cookies, I eat them all in one sitting. If I find a wine I like, I drink a bottle a day until I’m broke (I make sure to have a liquor fund so that I can only drink as much as is in the liquor fund). When I become passionate about a project, I will work all day, drink coffee, work all night, sleep sporadically in my street clothes, and repeat the pattern until I’m dehydrated, burnt out, and then, move on to something else before I’ve finished the thing I put all that damned work into in the first place.

So I avoid narcotics. I have no doubt that if I tried any of that stuff, I’d be on Hollywood Blvd. juggling flaming lizards for tips in no time. To date, I have restrained myself from experimenting in things that would take over my entire life and prevent me from reaching any of my real goals…though juggling flaming lizards might be added to the bucket list.

If you recognize that your days of being a quasi-respectable human are numbered and any moment, you could backslide into Hollywood Blvd. doing something strange for change, then you are not alone. Moreover, we are not doomed to a life of incomplete plans, burnout, and obsessiveness.

You Are the Driver

Compulsion and addiction are not independent of us. These are the bad habits that we developed as a result of a lack of discipline. When discussing our compulsive behaviors, we defeat ourselves by speaking in passive language like,

“My obsessive compulsion won’t let me finish my projects.”

Instead, learn to speak actively because you are the one with the power:

“I won’t finish my projects.”

This changes things. Now, you have grabbed on to the power to know that you are the one driving your life and you are the one responsible for turning the key, backing out of the garage, signaling, staying in your lane, and following traffic laws until you get to your destination.

When we take responsibility for our lives, it becomes more clear why we must complete the tasks upon which we embark. We decided to do those things for a reason. We saw a need. We recognized that we had the skills to fulfill that need. We knew that we could not justify complaining until after we’ve given the best we had to a solution. We had the faith to know that once we pushed through our learning curve and insecurities, the “how” of it all would open up, providing even more opportunities and possibilities than we originally imagined!

When you are the one responsible, you don’t let anyone get between you and your goals. Not even yourself.

Embrace The "D"

In our modern world, there is constant noise. Gossip, entertainment, memes, jokes, shows, snacks, and even our own friends and family who be stay having nothing to do, searching for others who also have nothing to do. For many people, distractions are a way of life. It’s how they get from one day to the next.

In those moments of silence when the external chatter isn’t so overwhelming, the internal chatter and overthinking fills the gaps and creates new opportunities for distortion, confusion, and lack of clarity. Where is the exit from all this nonsense!!??

Discipline is the magic wand that makes all that chatter go away. Discipline, like our language, must be active. In other words, we have to determine a routine and stick with it no matter what. Our routine can be whatever we want, but we have to stick with it. In the beginning, it can feel awkward, but as the days go on, it become our new normal. Habits are not innate. Habits are built. Even bad habits are built. Again, you are the driver of all this. Life is not happening to you. You are making choices and living the consequences of the choices you make.

Do you need discipline to survive? Not necessarily. However, if you want the power in your life, you have to embrace discipline. Consider the self employed individual and the individual who works a regular job. In the case of a job, the employer tells you where to be and when. They pay you a flat rate that may or may not represent the work you put into the job. They tell you when you can take a vacation. They even tell you what work you are to do. They tell you what to wear, what to say, and how to act. Your only responsibility is to follow orders. Sure, there is some discipline involved there, but it’s not proactive discipline. It’s paternalistic discipline. It’s someone telling you what to do and you do it. You do not have the power in this dynamic.

When you are self employed, you determine how you act, what you wear, what you say, what you do, when you vacation, when you show up, where you show up, and your pay is a direct reflection of the efficacy with which you run your business. It’s all you! If you don’t go to work, no one will fire you. After while, your productivity would decrease and so would your income. You gotta stay up…stay on top of it all in order to make a living. The discipline required to be self employed is much greater than that required to work for someone else. However, the trade off is that you are the one with the power. You are the driver.

Some ideas

Everybody is different, but here are some ideas that can help you responsibly develop a discipline that works for your best life.

1: Write down the routine that you know will work for you. When we write things down and put them somewhere where we are sure to see them, we can’t say we forgot.

2: Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day. Our body clocks want to be regulated. When our sleep is regulated, many other things, like appetite and mood, will fall into place. Never underestimate the simple power of a consistent sleep schedule. Creating a restful, appealing sleep environment will help you look forward to going to bed on time.

3: Eat at the same times every day. As with sleep, our digestive systems are happiest when regulated. Plan menus, cook ahead of time, and shop wisely so that you always have a meal handy for eating time.

4: Set aside time in the day (1 hour) for mindless nonsense. Even the most disciplined people need a break.

5: Exercise at the same time every day. I know exercising can seem like a drag, but it doesn’t have to be. Exercise can be as simple and fun as dancing to a favorite playlist for 45 minutes! Bonus points if you can get a friend or one of your kids to dance with you. Let them choose the playlist sometimes and make it a family event.

6: Designate some evenings for grown up activities. Humans must embrace and nurture our shadow selves…that part of us that we don’t discuss in mixed company. Embrace it and give it a couple nights a week to do its thing.

When we wake up at the same time each day, eat at the same times every day, work at the same times every day, only play online during the times we’ve allotted for that activity, exercise every day, and engage in our grownup behaviors once we’ve completed our goals, we don’t even have to think about being disciplined. Write down the plan for how you want to live your life. Then, follow that plan. No thinking necessary. Leave all the thinking and creativity for making that magic that fuels your passion for life and enables you to afford to buy your auntie a pair of those Colin Kaepernick Air Force 1s.

Do it.

Responsibility and discipline sound like dirty words because our parents used those words to prevent us from doing the fun things we wanted to do when we were kids. I get it. I resist these words as well. That’s why I’ve decided to just do them and not call them anything. lol.

In the end, we just have to do it. Whatever it is that we can do to make the world better, do it and talk about it after the check clears. The cookies, wine, narcotics, porn, illuminati youtube videos, and random social media nonsense will always be there. Do the thing you love first. When that’s done, be as trifling as you want to be for a weekend. Then, get back to work!

Dr. Cathryn D. Blue is a social psychologist on paper and a cultural anthropology hobbyist. Her goal is to illuminate the universality of human experience so that we can glow up knowing we are supported by our human family.

© Cathryn D. Blue. All Rights Reserved

Royalty Free Photos Courtesy of The Internets

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