Saturday, February 18, 2012


My father is one of the most disciplined people I know. When I was growing up, every morning when I came down for breakfast in my pajamas, I'd see my dad sitting in his favorite brown leather easy chair, in his bathrobe and slippers, reading his Bible. It was something I could count on, as predictable as the sunrise.

Several years ago, my dad started walking 20 minutes every morning before work. Even on those cold winter mornings when it's still dark outside, he bundles up in a hat and gloves and coat and sets out for his 20 minutes of brisk walking. I tried to join him a couple of times and gave up, deciding that I'd much rather exercise at a more decent hour of the day - maybe 11:00 in the morning, or 2:00 in the afternoon. If the sun's not even up yet, I shouldn't be up if I don't have to be. And only if the weather's not too hot and not too cold will I venture out for a semi-brisk walk of maybe 10 minutes, if I'm feeling up to it.

Sadly, I don't have the level of discipline of my dad.

But I'm trying. He's inspired me to make daily Bible reading part of my routine. He's challenged me to exercise more regularly (or at least think about exercising more regularly - actually doing it is the hard part). I want to be more disciplined in my everyday life.

So this month my friend Jennifer challenged me to write a little bit each day. I keep telling myself and my writer friends that I want to write more and get over my paralyzing perfectionism that tells me I have to tweak and revise and modify forever and ever until my writing is absolutely the best ever that could possibly be written on this particular subject. And I'm trying to move past the laziness and procrastination that tells me as soon as I sit down to write that I can't possibly write anything until I've scrubbed out that bottom produce drawer of the fridge where the pizza sauce spilled last week. Or that instead of writing, now would be a perfect time to take a nap. Or read the comics. Or bury vegetable peels in the garden. Or check the oil in my car...

Yet if I just will sit down and DO IT, I'm amazed at how much easier it is than I think it will be. The simple discipline of doing something small consistently every day is very powerful. I start to get into a routine. A habit. And suddenly it's part of my daily rhythm. It feels less threatening or scary. It feels normal. I begin to enjoy it more. And now, about 2 weeks into my challenge to write a blog post every day for a month, I'm really enjoying it! And my day just doesn't feel complete if I haven't written something. So that's why today, after I was already in my pajamas in bed, about to turn the light out, I remembered that I hadn't written a blog post today yet. And as I snuggled under the covers, I contemplated skipping a day. But I felt it would throw off my rhythm and I would start to get lazy and make excuses for not writing tomorrow and the next day. So I threw the blankets off and started typing something a few minutes before midnight, so that I would be able to keep my writing streak.

Because that's what discipline is - it's an everyday, whether I feel like it or not, in all kinds of weather, in order to form good habits, because I know it's the right choice kind of thing.