i wish i was born with self discipline. how is it that some people can set up a routine and completely stick with it; like clockwork in the brain, almost robot like. my uncle was like that, he heard that we spend 1/3 of our life sleeping and he refused. for nearly 15 years he would only sleep 5 hours a day, the rest he would study, read, write, and invent (he has several patents).
i did not get one single of those genes. in fact i enjoy sleep, im not lazy i promise, but there are moments when i wake up looking forward to sleeping!
can we change? how does one just choose to be self-disciplined? i have heard it said that pain is the biggest instigator of change. which i can see! if someone has been smoking their whole life and develops lung cancer, endures painful chemo, and watches their own health slowly dissipate then the next cigarette doesn't look so appetizing. why must it come to that, i want to change because i know i should, not because eventually i will have to.

is this something that was hereditary, am i always going to go through life with my closet in complete shambles, my stickies notes cluttered with to do lists that i doubt ill ever get around to doing. if all good intentions magically accomplished themselves i would be able to sleep really really well at nights.

a few things i have been doing to overcome myself lately have been:
1. get a calender, i always felt limited as to what i could do today because i had no idea what is happening tomorrow.
2. take one step, if you want to start running but don't feel like going for a 5 mile jog just put on your shoes and walk outside, you will be surprised at what your mind is willing to do if you just get it started; first think of the overall picture, but then forget it and start with the first brush stroke
3. 1%, that's all you need! change today just one percent today. slow and steady begin to change what and who you are 1% better today. organize 1% of your drawer per day, clean 1% of the garage every day, over the course of time you will find
that it is getting easier and more manageable each and every day.
4. pace yourself; don't think your going to write a book in a week or learn a new language in a month

5. ??? i have no clue. i'm working on this too,
so give me your suggestions!


preston said…
stephen, how about #5: accountability? find someone who will regularly (like once a week or something) hold you accountable by asking if you're on track with whatever goal you have.

i don't know if this is what you're looking for, but it works for some people.

i found your blog a couple days after your last post and have been reading through it since. you kinda inspired me to start blogging again, so for that - thanks.

also, i bought your book the other day; i'm about half-way through...
Anonymous said…
this post reminds me of myself so much! i used to put Goals on myself but i would just say i'll do it tomorrow but never get to it. Now, My Mon-Sun are all the same. One of my Goals are Exercising after school and i actually do it. I do it because i want to be strong and work on my muscles. Maybe you can tell yourself if you complete whatever you want to complete and do it regularly, you will become more successful.
haha i dont know, that is what i tell myself and it works :]

phlp314 said…
i'm with preston. accountability is huge.
Anonymous said…
this is good. and then i have about 700 other rambling thoughts. but i'll stick with just: this is good
Dan said…
I agree that accountability is most of time what makes or breaks things. Everyone reaches that point where the motivated feeling you had in the beginning goes away, and it's having someone right there by your side that pushes you through to the end.

You also can't try and start everything at once. Focus on one or two things at a time, and start with the things you most passionately want to integrate into your lifestyle. Then, over time, you approach where you wanted to go in the beginning.

And Stephen, we've gone from the theory of 5% to the theory of 1%? Seems like negative progress to me, lol.
Jordan said…
I agree with accountability, but what about love.
We are so greedy and selfish about loving ourselves that we don't look at those around us and love them. If we take time to do something for someone out of love, than we can beging to get over ourselves.
The Shy Kid said…
I have the worst motivation in the world. So one thing that helps me a lot, is having one of my friends call me or come and help me get things started. One time I had my good friend call me every hour to make sure I was writing my paper for art history. It worked I finished it and it would have never happened if I didn't have someone giving me that little push every hour. So I think Preston is right you need someone there to give you that little push.
Lexi said…
Being self-employed and lacking self-discipline is surely not a positive thing, yet it is where I am at. I feel your pain on this subject. I make innumerable to-do lists, barely completing any of them. I find the first step, the beginning of any task, to be the most difficult. Once I make that step, I am amazed at the fluidity with which I complete it... but it is rather tough for me to take that first step, that 1% of sorts.

As far as #5, I'd have to go with what I have personally devoted my strengths and energies to of late: choosing happiness. I have been under severe stress in several aspects of my life. For a while, I let it consume me. I was overly-critical of myself and my action. But, I've found that happiness really IS a choice, and that by choosing to be happy, I am able to love myself in a way that I haven't been capable of in a long time.

It is hard to accomplish any feat/persist without confidence and love of self, so I'd definitely say that choosing happiness is a good rule of thumb.
guard my dreams said…
well, as for #5 i would have to suggest trying to prioritize your day. think of the things that you would like to accomplish throughout the entire day over breakfast and decide which are the most important. that is how i seem to get the most done during my busy high-school days. also, why not try praying through your day every morning? just a few suggestions...

as for the other suggestions of accountability and happiness, i couldnt agree more. both of these are extremely important in my opinion. having someone hold you accountable for the things you need to do is very important and helpful too. but thats just my high-school brain's take on the matter : )
erin said…
I agree with the prioritizing. That helps me a lot. Making sure you alot time for everything you want to accomplish for the day. I think all of your ideas are great and they would be even more great if I could actually stick to them. I always get spurts of inspiration like this and at first it's like you're so jazzed about changing yourself...but then something crappy happens that breaks your spirit..and then it's back to square one. Maybe the real suggestion should be to keep the motivation going...
Laura said…
"There is a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." -Leonard Cohen

#5. Rejoice in your own humanity (its the pleasure of not being perfect).

Being human is never to be underestimated. We only are able to learn because we are inevitably imperfect...and there is no sure bet of perfection, ever.

Donnie: [to his mother] How's it feel to have a wacko for a son?
Rose Darko: It feels wonderful.

"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are."
-Kurt Cobain

So rejoice!

(sorry this sounds like a research paper)
Knaren. said…
"1. get a calender, i always felt limited as to what i could do today because i had no idea what is happening tomorrow."

But what if you don't have a tomorrow? Or what if tomorrow has no effect over today? I mean, as much as we try to plan things ahead of time, events/things will pop up and occur that we didn't plan for. Wouldn't that motivate you to step it up and do it today? But i mean, this could also work the other way...

Living in today is something that I've been thinking about...but i am totally with you on this, it's really hard for me to pick up and do some things (that i should/need) to be doing routinely.
Joe said…
Here's an awesome suggestion: I have done it with my school work and so far it is paying off. I write my assignments on my arm or hand in permanent ink (normally a marker). Well, we all know that "permanent" marker actually washes off after a few showers or days/weeks (depending on how often you wash your hands). I write stuff I need to get done on my hand, and then I don't worry about it. Every time I look at my hand, I will be reminded to do it, and if I don't do it by the time it is off my hand, it will probably not get done. But, on the other hand, it forces me to prioritize everything I do so that I get them finished before it disappears from my hand. Yes, it is slightly immature, but it works. Maybe it will work for you.
Anonymous said…
you should also add... Smile at 1 extra person per day. not a friend. not someone you know, we do that already. smile at a stranger, you'll never realise where it takes you.
Chris said…
I'd like to try to give you some words of wisdom, but self discipline is not one of my strong suits!

1. getting a calendar...this was probably on my list too from time to time cause I have them in all shapes and sizes, but do I ever consistently write in them?!? Maybe I should try a blackberry...:) I like to say that I'm organized in my own disorganized way!

Change in self is a good thing, I guess, if you have right motives for change. I really don't believe that we can entirely change how we're wired. That's what makes us unique. There's always going to be a part of that which we try to change rise to the surface.

On your list to overcome self, my number 5 would have to be unconditionally putting others above myself. Now that could take a lifetime to come close to accomplishing, but I think the reward would be great.

Keeping writing...I enjoy reading!
Anonymous said…
i'll join the echoes of accountability, and suggest #6 in a more long-winded way....I got my degree in psychology and in the course of clinical courses I took a Stress Management class, which might be the best class I ever took for a million reasons. Our big project was a "Behavior Change" project that was structured in weekly increments by our clinical psychologist of a professor....not everyone has that resource. But it helped us identify what we invested ourselves in and what we allowed to invest in us; not only did we change a habit or create a good one, we also had to take stock of our stress responses.

The ultimate line generally affects me deeply. I'm learning that the more crappy food I cut out, the more activity I work into my routine, the more I read, the less TV I watch.....the "better" I feel. It is good.

Also, for encouragement--there was a medical study done in 2002 that compared people who exercised twice a week to those who were active 5 days a week. They found that regardless of activity levels, those who were active 5xs/wk had a higher metabolism than those who did it 2xs/wk.....their bodies became used to moving. We live in a society riddled by disease. This is one way to battle that. Take your 1% walk. You have no idea what good will come.
Joanna said…
I think there are people who are able to and people who chose to continue life without fighting, without that desire for self-discipline. It's almost a matter of whether you're born with a gene that either activates immediately or on a random day in the middle of June by a tramuatizing call from the doctor or the sudden death of a relative or you're not.

as for your fifth option, try little, insignificant things that everyone usually take for granted. Such as typing out numbers instead of simply pressing 5 or 7. Or maybe buy a book on feng shui or write a letter instead of emailing. Learning steps such as those can help you realize the difference between work and convinience and might help your path to self-discipline become a little easier to understand :)
Anonymous said…
you would laugh if you saw the desk i am sitting at right now; COVERED in different colored post it notes of song titles to remember, albums to buy, books to read, bills to pay. i don't even know where to start! but i have found that if i over organize my lists, sometimes i cant work from it, make sense? there is something about organized chaos that works a bit better for me...

i have so much in life i want and need to do, that i think i get overwhelmed with it all and end up doing nothing. all i do instead is worry about all that i have to do...its a vicious circle! i find that if i just do one thing at a time, i start feeling accomplished, which then motivates me to keep going.

i also need to remind myself to really enjoy the life i have and live it for myself, rather than wishing for a life that's not mine, and giving all my energy to other people. don't get me wrong, i love spending time with and helping others, but sometimes i get lost in the shuffle.

everyone else that has posted before me had great things to add. one person mentioned try smiling at a stranger. i do this a lot, and its great to see their reaction. i love smiling at babies and young children, because it shows them that the world is a nice place, and there are good people out there.
Cynde said…
Hi Stephen,
First off, I have to say how inspiring your book was. I finished it yesterday feeling blessed and renewed. :)

Also I read your blog off and on for the past couple of years and it seems that everytime I come across a new entry, it always relates to the timing of how my life is going. :)

I can relate to the above posts and their suggestions for accountability, happiness, etc.

I would also add on that leaving encouraging notes in places in your home or wallet or anything you grab, see or touch on a regular basis could help.

I used to keep these heart shaped sticky notes back in college full of bible verses and other random positive quotes on my mirror at the sink. It was a constant reminder to stay positive, to count my blessings. It set up my attitude for the rest of the day.

Today is the day to make miracles happen!!

Thanks for your thoughts that you share with us all. I know us readers are encouraged by what you say and how you think. Keep on Keepin' On!! :)
Derek Glassick said…
Hey Stephen,

What about this? Moving every number down one and making number one humbling yourself before God. Its truly the only way one can change. Hope you guys are doing well.
Lau said…
So familiar. My sister is so organized it's frightening. My profs at school call it the "artists" gene I have...The one that stays up all night and is tired all day, can't seem to finish a sentence without thinking of something better to say...
Lau said…
Okay...yeah, the rhyming was accidental.
Raechel said…
5. Support

Friends and prayer go a long way. :) God can accomplish anything!
Sarah said…
Compassion & empathy.
Chloe Schmidt said…
I would say that your #5 should be to keep in mind the reward. If you tell yourself "Oh, if I accomplish this then this will happen", then it can lead to a lot.

You need to bring yourself to reality. Because sometimes, you don't realize what a situation really entails even though you think you do. I play tennis A LOT. And when I am at a really dependable point, like this point will decide who wins, I tell myself "Okay, just get this one and I can win."

So I think that realizing where you stand should be your #5, Stephen.
Jeremy B said…
Ironically enough, I actually just posted goals for myself on my blog and I rarely write down goals. I did this as a reminder of things I actually want to accomplish. Some of these are things I want to do daily and some are things that will take some time to accomplish.

I am one of those people who loves a routine but making changes may be even harder for those who have routines because we can become set in our patterns. Goals may be even more important to those like me who need reminders to get out of that routine to make changes. So look at your inability to have a routine as a bit of a blessing as it means you are more open to change. You are not set in any of your ways so you can be open to new directions. I think that is the reason you are a musician, writer, blogger. It's harder to be perceptive in life if you are accustomed to doing and seeing the same things every day. So while you may get frustrated with things you don't accomplish or the fact you don't have a routine to help push you, see the gifts you have in how you were created and how that in itself allows your mind and heart to look around around you and be willing to go in a different direction. After all, someone set in their ways may not ever see a need to change or grow in the first place. Thankfully, I have that side of me as well that can't be content with how I am.

So for those that you admire, know there are those who admire you for the openness, flexibility, and the willingness you have to take a look at life and be open to change.
Anonymous said…
realize your current thoughts, the way you perceive things, are going to change as you develop your thoughts more and more each day. certain ideas need to be thrown out before you can see what you're really searching for. chaos is good. it's good to lay out everything we feel without understanding it. just take the time to truly think about the way things are and why you think of them a certain way. they can all change when we add crazy ideas in the back. shine the light.
Anonymous said…
i think that atleast for me the number 5 is....

what else will i be doing.... my hectic life of school. computer. tv. and books. if i want to do something i always think its better than what i am doing then... and then i start. i guess thats what my number 5 is.

this also makes me think of my best friend. she is severly depressed [she see's a counciller] and she said that part of it was because she wasn't motivated to do anything but sleep. or hang out with me. so i guess that i have an accountability partner too. like preston said. i decided excuse are stupid.
make promises and commitments you can't get out of. thats what i ahve been doing and its working for me
boy with a coin said…
oh man. this is exactly what i've been struggling with for a good portion of my life. its nice to feel that i'm not alone. unfortunately, unlike you stephen, i am actually lazy. i am the king of procrastination.
i will be taking on all your advice so thanks for it!

#5.... hmm i guess an important aspect of self-discipline is reflection. after the day is over write down your thoughts, your accomplishments, what you were happy/unhappy with, what needs to be changed. this way your thoughts are down and out of the muddle of your mind, making you able to tackle these problems one at a time...

i myself need to start doing this... but i guess i'll start tomorrow ;)
ZarinaK said…
"you should also add... Smile at 1 extra person per day. not a friend. not someone you know, we do that already. smile at a stranger, you'll never realise where it takes you."

I really like that one.
lyd said…
haha! I feel you! Why is it that I struggle with this so?

It's very scary to know that many talented people are unsuccessful.

I work with people with special needs...a lot of these guys are so routine-oriented and get their stuff done!!!

Starting with one note or sound seems to help...Short Deadlines work.


It was comforting to read this blog.
burnthesun said…
I know exactly what you mean about just getting your mind started and then letting it go from there.

One way that really motivates me is just not thinking too much about what im going to do. The more one sometimes thinks about something, the harder it is to get around to doing. Sometimes, I dont even give thought to what i'm about to do and I just do it. That helps me, hopefully someone will get something out of it.

...And i didnt mean for this comment to sound like a Nike ad.

God Bless
Scooby said…
#5 could be Think Positive. As in, think of all the positive things these changes are going to bring to your life instead of focusing on how hard it is, how overwhelming everything can be, how much you hate doing something.

I'm in the discipline boat with you. God has been walking me through a season of developing discipline, and while it isn't the easiest time of my life, I'm seeing progress, and that keeps me moving forward.
curtis said…
This also applies to spiritual and social change endeavors. In general we want to see the "180 degree" change happen, or the "big impact" to be made. but yet change so often happens in small ways, and in little steps.

It is still miraculous nonetheless!

Thanks for the reminder!
Jeremiah said…
To live starts with a breath. From the moment of conception you have been living off of what started at 1% and advanced to an everyday accurance. I'd agree. Life is always in need of 1%'s here and 1%'s there. Without 1% there could never be 100%.

5. Take it all in. You may have just started or may be excelling, but the most rewarding thing about life is being able to capture the moments you've been given - with a brush, flash, thought, glance ...
Anonymous said…
haha it sounded as though you just described me!! i leave TONS of sticky notes all over my desk......but somehow they stay there. i'm not lazy....but sometimes it becomes so overwhelming that i don't know where to begin! maybe it's just procrastination.........?
Barb said…
i just discovered your blog and found this post particularly interesting- i blogged about something similar to this on may 20. i am a totally unorganized person at home and i struggle with it constantly. i would much rather be playing outside with my kids (or doing any number of other things) than organizing my home and my life.

so, while i really want to be a good steward of the time i have, i am usually not. but then i began to consider this: am i unorganized because i am lazy? if i am completely honest with myself, then yes, sometimes i am being lazy. and in that case, i definitely need to work on it! but do i have times of being unorganized because i am devoting my time to something else that is more important than myself? are there times i need to be mary instead of martha? most definitely! i don't want my list of "to do's" to overshadow my time sharing the love of Jesus with others- whether that is laughing with my kids, visiting someone who is sick, talking with a hurting friend, going on a mission trip, or simply sitting at the feet of Jesus. however, i do want to balance that with becoming a somewhat organized individual. i don't want everything to become an excuse to stay unorganized!

so, i have absolutely no advice to give; i can only say i share in your struggle with self-discipline- so maybe i need to start setting some goals myself!
Krissy said…
I'm horrible when it comes to motivation, so thanks for the added ideas. ^_^ I've begun my own plan of attack already, but hadn't quite thought about these. :D

My main idea is to start the day with good motivational music. For me, this includes: Coming Back To The World by Phone Calls From Home, Change The World by Anberlin, This Is The Part by Gratitude, MCR's Famous Last Word, etc.. Anything that makes me want to make a difference in the world is usually a good kicker for me to start on homework or anything.

While the smiling at one extra person thing is a wonderful idea, how would that help with motivation..? The accountability thing is also a lovely idea.
[Cr*] said…
i recently read this post and you're right. e.i its like when you wanna leave alcohol and you lock yourself in a room. i think the real challenge it's to be outside with the bottles surrounding you but you know it would screw you, so you chooose to say "No i want a juice".
i'm not sure if my idea is easy to understand, im sorry if it's not.

Real changes are those that takes some time. If something changes quickly, quickly will end.

By the way, i really enjoy reading you so thanks! :D

Lulu said…
That post describes me. I have an idea of sorts for #5: Remember when you waste time you are usually doing harm and not good.
Haikit said…
#5... rewards, definitely.

i wouldn't be very motivated to do anything here without some kind of incentive. i know it's a bit pathetic, but hey, can't go wrong with chocolate. :]

good luck!
JC said…
With regards to #4, I think unrealistic expectations are the main killer of motivation! It is great to aim high and dream, but when people stress themselves out about not reaching a goal, they are definitely going to find disappointment - so by pacing themselves and having realistic expectations, people can get further!

With regards to deciding what #5 on anyone's list should be, I believe it is acceptance. Accept what you've got to work with; accept responsibility to create change; accept that change will occur whether you like it or not, so it is better to be the change than go with the change; and finally accept that you are capable of reaching your goals.

Here's a way I've incorporated all five of your steps into my life:

1. I've been patiently planning in my head for the entire year that I would write a blog.
2. I took the first steps and thought of a URL, played around with the layout until I was happy, and created an introduction.
3. I stuck to the 1% of anything rule. I have written down ideas each week.
4. I didn't expect that it would become something amazing overnight. I paced myself - and today I can turn around and say yes I achieved my first blog post!
5. I believe I made it occur because I finally accepted that even if it wasn't perfect, I was still capable of making it happen!

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