I have a box of unfinished projects. It’s always on the back of my mind reminding me of my failures.
There is nothing new or special about my situation. Perhaps, my story will help motivate you to give discipline a chance.
My problem as I would discover is that I am easily motivated but just as quickly, I find I lose interest and give up.
Ten years ago, I watched Save the Last Dance, starring Julia Stiles. It must have inspired me a lot because after that I decided I wanted to learn ballet.
In the week following, I bought my shoes, signed up for 6 months of classes and read as many books as I could about ballet. Everyone commented on how passionate I seemed. Fast forward, three months. I no longer attended classes, and my ballet shoes were abandoned in my closet. I had discovered I was not a naturally gifted dancer, and the reality of dance was not as fun as what I had seen on screen.
I have many more examples. I’m sure you do too.
Last year, I was fed up and angry at myself. Why couldn’t I follow things through? Was I a quitter?
Then when another ‘potential’ hobby caught my eye, I was determined that this time would be different.
I pursued my new hobby with caution. Instead, of buying all the equipment I needed and signing up for a yearly commitment of classes, I opted for renting and relying on some helpful friends and YouTube to get me started.
I had decided to (try to) learn how to play the cello.
The first time I brought my cello home, I couldn't draw a sound out of it. I was ready to cry.
It took me four long hours before I could manage to play a note (my bow was lacking a serious amount rosin).
In the three days after my struggle, I didn't pick up the cello again. Had I given up again?
As it turned out I was lucky — this time. A friend I had approached to help me with learning the cello contacted me asking, how it was going. Shamefully, I replied that it wasn't going well and I felt like giving up.
That friend gave me some advice:
“Whatever you do, just pick up the cello once a day. Even if all you do is play one note for five minutes straight. If it helps, find a simple song that you like, learn the notes, and play it over and over again. Don’t stop.”
Determined to succeed, I did just that. By the end of two weeks I played “Mary had a little lamb” beautifully. The first day I managed to play through the whole song, I skyped my parents and played it for them. Twice. I’m sure they were annoyed.
In those two weeks, I had learned two surprising things:
I had always underestimated the powerful effect of being disciplined. If I had motivation, then I did not need discipline. Discipline was something left for school work or for your job. Hobbies should not need discipline. Boy was I wrong.
Of course, not all hobbies and projects will pan out but now with a bit of discipline, I hope to give them a fighting chance.
It’s been almost a year, and I still play the cello. I will never be good enough to play in an orchestra but it makes me proud that I stuck with it. I am so happy every time I learn a new song and can play it for my friends and family.
My experience with the cello has transferred over nicely to my writing. Five years ago I would never have had the discipline to finish a book. Now I stick as best as I can to a schedule every day - writing as often and as much as I can. In fact, it was this discipline that has motivated me to pursue more projects.
Can you think of a time when you had the motivation but lacked the discipline to succeed?