For a long time now I’ve felt been stuck in a rut. I have goals, but I find myself making little or no progress towards those goals. Worse yet, I seem to be losing my ability to accomplish goals that I used to take for granted.
An easy example is running. Many years ago, I ran every day, without fail. A lot has changed since then, so I don’t expect to be able to run quite so much now. I’m usually able to attribute my running, or lack-thereof, to external factors. “I’m not running now because I’m a fair-weather runner,” or, “I am running now because I have to get in shape for a race.” In either case I do it because of circumstance, rather than as part of a plan.
A more recent example is that I have extreme difficulty reading scientific literature at my job. In general, I can read 1 paragraph before I literally lose consciousness and take a 2-hour nap (don’t tell my boss!). The advent of coffee in my life does some to ameliorate this, but again my performance is not consistent.
Running and reading are two things I’d like to be good at. They are both things that I start many of my days intending to accomplish, but more often than not I do neither. This lackluster consistency is ubiquitous in my life now… in work, in exercise, and even (perhaps paradoxically) in leisure activities.
I don’t think I’m inherently bad at work, excercise, or leisure. It’s more a lack of discipline. I realize now that I have not had well-developed self-discipline anytime in my adult life.
And that’s OK. Discipline isn’t something we’re born with. We have to learn it. Everyone learns differently, and I know from personal experience that I learn best by example, experiment, and practice.
So, over the upcoming indeterminate period of time, I’m going to practice self-discipline in small, well-planned, exercises, until I get it right.