Discipline, or, trying to get things done when you don't want to

This is a blog post about how I didn’t want to write a blog post and so, I think, it’s a post about discipline.

I have an ongoing task list related to being a self-employed yoga teacher. It includes things like keeping up on accounting, research about workshops, and people to contact for guidance, and I have a very organizationally-talented friend who helps me manage it. Partly thanks to this friend, my task list constantly includes “Start a new blog entry.” Sometimes this task is highlighted and sometimes not, but if you look at this blog you’ll see how frequently it gets accomplished -- seldom.

Currently, I am 27 weeks pregnant. This, I’ve noticed, makes me even less interested in my task list than usual. In one way, I feel this is because all my creative, generative energy feels directed towards growing this baby and making space in my life for her to arrive. This is pretty cool on its own and entirely natural and correct. But it is a tricky shifting of gears. I am lucky to have enough time at my disposal to rest and teach and work on baby-related things and still eek out some business-related tasks, which are important and which I don’t want to entirely lose sight of.

Thinking about it this way, I realized that the redirection of energy was really exacerbating an existing problem: being my own boss, Being my own boss means motivating to get work done when I am basically the only person accountable...and there are few non-negotiable deadlines...and my income does not entirely depend on it. As long as I show up to teach my actual classes and clients, I get paid.

Today, faced with this constantly lingering (and currently highlighted) blogging task, and the prospect of an imminent meeting with my organized friend, I considered two approaches:

  1. I could continue ignoring the task, go to my meeting, complain about/make an impassioned, overstated argument about being a purely baby-centered person. Or
  2. I could start a damn blog post.

Here’s the thing about discipline, as I understand it. We all know that we feel better after we exercise or meditate or accomplish a task, etc. Yet the knowledge of that future satisfaction is rarely sufficient to get us over our present hurdles. The cycle of “I don’t want to do this, I should do this, I can’t do this,” causes a cruel and unruly stress. But, rather than thinking of discipline as a brute force that catapults us past the hurdles, we could think about it as part of a clear mindset, one that can look at the situation as it is now -- those hurdles, that stress -- and realize that they are already more uncomfortable than doing the thing.

It is simpler, quieter. It is stepping away from the entire situation enough to weigh the stress against the dreaded thing, and to see that the thing itself looks much more appealing in comparison. This is not easy. But it’s easier.

In full disclosure, this concept of discipline came to me via my sister and a book she mentioned called The Yoga of Discipline, by Gurumayi. I am obviously just starting to play with this concept, and midway through writing this post -- the one I didn’t want to write -- I bought the book online. It is making its way to me now. I very much hope I can muster the discipline to read it and report back here.