Archive for February, 2010
This morning I found myself thinking about the nature of discipline after reading two different views about how often to publish blog posts. One recommends publishing only when you have something to say and the other suggests writing at regular intervals. The latter is Chris Guillibeau’s preference who says “Set a schedule and never miss a post . . . this isn’t so much about the readership–most people would forgive me if I missed a day, and many wouldn’t even notice. Instead, it’s about SELF-DISCIPLINE”.
Now those of you who have been around a while will remember that on my return from Phoenix, I intended to publish a blog post every day. I didn’t do so for long and so was wondering whether or not Chris’s approach might be a useful one for me to follow. But there’s something about the word ‘discipline’ that leaves me cold.
Whenever I read something that suggests I practice discipline, I find myself silently screaming “No, no. Don’t make me do it. I want to do it my way”. No wonder I don’t like it. The story I tell about discipline is that it is a form of coercion. Something demanded from the outside that necessitates doing it someone else’s way.
It’s a story I suspect, that’s a hangover from school days when the teachers seemed all powerful and from childhood in general when parents or other adults were in control. Discipline conjures up having to tidy my room, do my piano practice or something connected with the PE instructor on the parade ground. And I am obviously not alone. If you look in Google at the most common searches people carry out, that contain the word “discipline”, you will find that of the 200 most popular, way over half (I stopped counting at 100) relate to children, kids, toddlers, teachers, parents, classrooms, schools etc. No wonder the idea has such negative connotations.
But I am no longer a child and am free to choose a new view. I can make it an internal choice now rather than an external command.
However, writing a blog post everyday wasn’t a goal that was connected to something I really wanted. It was a goal I made for it’s own sake. But I DO want to get better at writing. I want to discover more of what I have to say. Writing helps me clarify my thoughts and make adjustments to how I approach things. I hope I will inspire others to think about things differently too and to experiment with other ways of being and doing things.
So rather than try to be disciplined and only post when I have something to say, or set a schedule and never miss a post, or make a post everyday, I would rather put my energy into practising the craft and spend at least 15 minutes a day writing something – anything. Doesn’t matter. Just get my pen on paper. That’s a discipline that’s worth learning for me.
As Steve Chandler would say – “Discipline is remembering what you want”.
I’m sitting in a cafe, enjoying a capucchino when I read:
“People say that what we are all seeking is a meaningful life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking.
I think what we are really seeking is an experience of being alive”.
- Joseph Campbell
An I am reminded of another of my favourite quotes:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and then go do that.
Because, what the world needs is more people who have come alive.”
- Harold Thurman
My mind drifts off as I gaze out the window and I ask myself “what makes me come alive?”
The Simple Wonder of it All . . .
I notice yellow bricks on tall buildings and red bricks on tall chimneys and glass in windows so we can see out and I marvel at how we learned to create that. From caves to tall buildings that don’t fall over and have sloping roofs made from different materials from the walls and ornamentation for no other purpose than to make them look fine.
And then there are the cars – black ones, white ones, green, sliver ones and a red and yellow double decker bus where people can sit on two different levels, one above the other. Engines and gears and wheels and metal and rubber. And I marvel at how we learned to do that. From walking slowly on 2 feet to speeding around in metal miracles.
And then I notice the sea crashing onto the beach. The timelessness of it. The power. The constancy. The beauty. And my mind spins off to the miracle of being alive right now, right here, in a universe of wonderous galaxies and gazillions of stars.
Bloody hell. I’m gob-smacked!
What makes me come alive?
Simply noticing this. Just this!
Wow! Wow! A billion, trilllion times wow!
so . . . (cough, cough) . . . what makes YOU come alive?
Fell free to post a comment and let us know . . .
Many of you will have heard of the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule which basically says that approximately 80% of the effects of many events, come from 20% of the causes of those events. The original idea came from looking at Italy’s income and wealth where Pareto noticed that 80% of the wealth was owned by 20% of the people but it has been observed in many other situations since. For example, 20% of the world’s population control 82.7% of global income, we dress in 20% of our favourite clothes about 80% of the time, and we spend 80% of the time with just 20% of our friends and acquaintances, etc.
I use a similar principle when I’m trying to get things done but rather than 80/20 it’s 45/15. It’s simple. I work/take action for 45 minutes and then take 15 minutes “off”.
I started doing this when I was at college and came across some research (the source of which I’ve long forgotten) that said that the maximum time we are able to work at top efficiency, is 45 minutes. I experimented with this when I was writing essays or revising for exams and discovered that I could study for longer overall and accomplish more when I applied this rule.
Nowadays, I apply the idea in many of areas of my life, especially if there’s something I’m finding it hard to motivate myself to do. But I find it particularly invaluable for when I’m working on the computer. When I’m at home, I will set an alarm for 45 minutes and then start working. When the alarm goes off I’ll get up from the desk and do something completely different such as putting on a load of washing, changing a bed or posting a letter. Then it’s back to the computer and another 45 minutes of work. The great thing about this approach is that I not only work more effectively but I’m also able to get through a load of chores without noticing I’m doing them.
If I’m working away from home I still set the alarm and use the 15 minute breaks to get a drink, walk around the office or chat with a colleague.
Strangely, I find the biggest challenge with the 45/15 approach is being disciplined enough to stop when the alarm goes off. It’s very tempting when things are going well, to keep working. However, experience has shown that working on past 45 minutes brings diminishing returns so I’ve developed the habit of standing up immediately the alarm goes off. Then it’s easier to move away and do something different. If it’s absolutely essential to finish off something I’m doing I’ll do it standing up!
If you spend a lot of time at the computer this has the added benefits of resting your eyes and moving your body so you’re putting less strain on your spine and muscles.
Also, you’ll find you come up with some great ideas in your 15 minutes “breaks” and you may even find solutions to problems you’ve been stuck on and unable to think your way out of.
I’d love to hear your experiences with the 45/15 rule so please give it a go and then leave a comment on the blog.
Continuing from planning from the present – a quick recap: I’m finding that being without direction is very demotivating but the last project I tried to create didn’t keep me on track.
Then, last week, an opportunity occurred that I would normally say “no” to since it’s in the internet marketing (IM) field and I thought I’d left that behind. But recently I’ve been working on my old websites because I’m finding that taking any action is better than moping around or waiting for the discovery of what I really want to do with my life.
So when Ed Dale, internet marketer extraordinaire, came onto my radar, offering a mentoring programme, I decided to ignore the “nay sayer” voices in my head telling me:
- you’ve tried that so many times before and it never works
- he won’t want to work with you
- you won’t get in anyway
- you’ll get bored with the work like always and find an excuse to move onto something else
- blah, blah, blah
and look for all the reasons to say “yes”.
The more I thought about it the more attractive the idea became. A full 12 months when I would know what I was up to, where I would be supported to stay on track, not to mention the expertise of someone on the cutting edge of a field that, no matter how many times I walk away from it, I seem to be drawn back. Maybe this is an opportunity to combine where I’ve been (internet marketing) with where I want to go (coaching).
Interestingly, at the beginning of the Coaching School when Steve suggested I might like to combine the two I was adamant that I would not. My idea of what that would look like was not something that appealed to me at all and I was feeling very jaded with the whole IM scene.
Fast forward 8 months and, with the benefit of all the insights and experience gained during that time I now see the idea very differently. So, I paid my money and applied for the mentoring. I should know if I’ve been accepted onto the programme (it’s very heavily oversubscribed) in a couple of days but I’ve already made a start on a project. I’ll be posting more specifics (web stats and actions, e.g.) on my other blog so as not to bore those Life Moves subscribers who aren’t interested in such things!
Returning to my blog after a fairly hefty absence, I discovered a comment, left by Chieko, on one of my “I don’t know what to do with my life” type posts, asking “How was your 4 week period?”. Hmmmm. I thought. What 4 week period would that be then? So I went back and looked.
On August 22nd I wrote a post which finished with:
“So, this is what I am going to do for the next 4 weeks. I am going to experiment with creating my life from where I am and without knowing where I’m going. I’m going to pay more attention to what is present and, when opportunities occur which I’m not sure about I will say “yes” rather than “no”.
Bottom line I’m going to have 4 weeks off from being concerned about not knowing what I want and see what happens.”
Well, the truth is, I seemed to have forgotten this idea pretty quickly, referring back to it just once more a few days after the original post. But it still appeals and it still inspires me. But more about that later.
On Oct 15th I mentioned a new project which I intended to write more about but which also seems to have been forgotten. And then there was the final burst – a new 28 day challenge I set for myself which would last until my return to Phoenix and the end of the Coaching School. But . . . you guessed it . . . that fizzled out too.
So, in answer to your question Chieko, my 4 week period disappeared down my good intentions plug-hole, while I was wandering off to pastures new. Actually, I wasn’t so much wandering off as lying down – literally!
The last time I posted, on Nov 13th, I said:
“So, now I have a choice, do I want to stay stuck and pretend to be playing the game or will I take the next step and create a plan? I choose to re-engage in my project and create a plan. So, once again, I reset my commitment to enrol 10 people on my 6 month coaching programme called – ‘When You Don’t Know What You Want – Make It Up!’.”
Hmmmm. Dropped the ball on that one too. I think it was the word “plan” that finally did me in because I had another really low period and even took to my bed for a few days. Not to worry though cuz, here I am again. Once more into the fray and all that.
So, back to that perennial question, where to from here?
Well, I think I can safely say that creating a 6 month coaching programme, right now, is a step too far for me. I don’t want it enough. But coaching itself is most definitely not off the agenda. It’s just the form it will take that’s uncertain.
Having a plan was enough for me to take to my bed and yet I’m finding that being without direction is equally demotivating. However, I think I may have found a way to have the best of both worlds and it involves returning to what I said in August: “I’m going to pay more attention to what is present and, when opportunities occur which I’m not sure about I will say “yes” rather than “no”.
More on that in combining past and future . . .