Self-discipline: An old fashioned virtue for modern times

I was driving around yesterday, trying to get a handle on this annoying experience of irritability that has been plaguing me for the last few weeks.

Ever have that?  Just feeling plain ol’ cranky for no apparent good reason?

And then it dawned on me what was going on behind the scenes. I heard myself say to myself – “Julie, you’re slipping on the self-discipline front.”

Yes, it’s true. I admit it. The thing is, it’s all those small, seemingly insignificant moments, those decision points, where I realized I have been taking the easy way out. Missing a blog post or 2 a week. Not getting around to my daily hikes. Not eating my veggies. I know – by themselves, they don’t seem like that big of a deal. However, they add up. Not only to the success of my long-term goals, my long-term health and well being, but just as importantly, to my self esteem.

Don’t get me wrong; I had lot of good reasons. I wasn’t feeling well. I needed a break. I’d do it tomorrow.

So, was that telemarketer even more obnoxious than usual?  Was my mum being particularly annoying? Was that doctor I was interpreting for being especially passive-aggressive?

Probably not. All along, it was me I was ticked off with. Imagine that! Because I haven’t been being true to what I know I should be doing. I know, should is a bad word these days.  I don’t really like it most of the time, especially if it is directed at one person by another –as in  You should….”.  Who likes that?

But in terms of its original meaning of ‘obligation’ – a self-imposed commitment, undertaken because we recognize that doing X will lead to desired outcome Y, then should is good in my book.

So, as always, life works in magical ways. Humbled by my roadside epiphany as to the source of my recent irritability, I arrive home to find Rory Vaden’s book, Taking the Stairs, in my mailbox.  

I open it up randomly and read this definition of self-discipline: “The ability to take action regardless of your emotional state, financial state, or physical state.”

OK universe, I get the message. Stay tuned as I implement Vaden’s seven strategies for self-discipline – want to join me?

Musings on the creative process: How to get out of your own way

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Well, there is no lack of internal chaos here.  Reassuring words, as I’ve been grappling with the creative process these days.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far about the process of creating – in this case a public TED style talk, but it could be anything - an article, a blog post, a lecture, a poem, even a painting I imagine, although I am not an artist.

You have an idea. Or rather, an idea comes to you. Inspiration is a fascinating phenomenon. It can come from anywhere. A dream, a conversation, a street sign, a line in a book, the shape of a cloud, a picture.

Something that wasn’t present before suddenly is. Sometimes its’ a trickle, a whisper, a faint notion. Other times, it’s a veritable high speed download of ideas stacked one on top of each other, neatly arranged like a deck of cards. Other times, it’s a chaotic influx of impressions, thoughts, and half formed notions.

So then, the question becomes… what to do with all that. How and where to start?
This first step can be rather daunting. You are not quite sure where to put your foot down, what is solid ground. Or where you might sink into quicksand. You never know.

The best way to find out?

Simply start. Anywhere. It’s not until I actually put words to paper that any sense starts to emerge. So I just go with it and see what comes.

What was a jumble in my head, start to makes sense on paper. Or maybe not. Then I delete and start all over again.

It’s about being willing to just go with it and trust that the creative flow itself will lead me to that dancing star.  The temptation is to control the flow, to dictate its meanderings and course, to take the straight and narrow path to some perceived destination. But the truth is, the creative process seems to have a life of its own, and my job seems to be as much to get out of its way, or rather to let it flow though me, than to try and control its nuances.

So dear reader, don’t be afraid of your internal chaos, it might just led you to that dancing star if you allow it to lead you!

How to go forward when you’re not sure how

I seem to be doing that a lot these days – saying Yes to something and then having my moments of doubt and uncertainty, wondering if I really have what it takes, thinking it’s so much safer in my cozy cave and why the heck did I agree to this anyway?

Well, I know the answer. I agreed because it’s something I actually really wanted to do, felt inspired to do…. However. It’s one thing to say Yes when it’s somewhere out there in the future, it’s another when the future is suddenly creeping unnervingly close to the present.

So…. Here’s how I get through this.

My Memorial Day Clean Up

Whenever I am going through a period of change and transformation, and I feel that things are re-arranging themselves internally and I am not sure which way is up and which way is down, my go to solution is to embark on a de-cluttering project.

So yesterday I tackled the bathroom and ended up chucking out two large shopping bags full of outdated lotions and potions and supplements.  As I was gleefully discarding 10 years worth of obsolete stuff, it dawned on me that this was the perfect backdrop for also getting rid of outdated mindsets, beliefs and worldviews.

You know the ones I mean. “I can’t do that.” “I’m too old/too young/too you name it.” “I’m not qualified.” “I’ll never be able to learn that.” “What if….”

It’s never too late

Well, at least not as long as you are still above ground… and even then, who knows, really?

I’ve been pondering the chain of events that have been unfolding in the past months since I took up my blogging journey in earnest, and realizing how many marvelous new opportunities have been presenting themselves to me along the way.

These new opportunities for business and personal expansion are seemingly unrelated to my blog, but as we know, life works in mysterious and imperceptible ways, and one thing always leads to another….

My point?

When you say Yes to one opportunity, one commitment, one change in your life, it unleashes a whole chain reaction of previously unimaginable openings. It’s like you put your foot in the door, and before you know it the momentum of life and your own openness and willingness to respond opens it all the way.

And then?  Why then, anything is possible.

So remember dear reader, as long as you are still breathing, it's never too late to say Yes to something new!

Coming in for a landing: the bumps along the way

It’s often a bit bumpy when you fly in for a landing and go through that layer of clouds. It seems like a good analogy for the experience of re-entry into the atmosphere of your daily life after being away on a trip. It’s bound to be somewhat jarring.

There’s something wonderful about being away in a completely different environment for a time, especially when you are mostly cut off from the usual deluge of electronic bits of information, with its ensuing demands, on your time and energy. Quite liberating!

So I guess it’s no surprise to feel somewhat overwhelmed by the mountain of information, requests and demands that seem to have accumulated in your absence.
What to do?

The natural response is to tighten up, stop breathing, dive in head first, and try to tackle it all at once. Whoa!  Not a good idea. At least, not in my experience.

Having learned from past uncomfortable landings, I gave myself a whole day to do nothing but putter around and nest this time– take a nap, unpack, visit, and just land. That really helped!

And as to the mountain of to do’s? I remind myself that just because they exist, doesn’t mean I actually have to get them all done at once. I can actually choose, prioritize, delegate, postpone or even scratch them off my list entirely. After all, I am in control of my life, right?

Next time you face a bumpy landing, dear reader, take it from me, give yourself a break and remember – you get to choose what you do with your time and energy. It’s your precious life.