One thing that people frequently tell me is that they don’t know how I do it all. For those of you who read this blog you know that I don’t particularly feel that accomplished any given day… but the fact remains that I do manage to hold down a full time job, feed and care for two tiny humans, and in general have friends, family, and meaningful relationships in my life. And yes, that means that on any given day, I am getting a lot done!
Over the next few blogs, I am going to share a few ‘rules of life’ that I have found to be helpful in my daily life. All three fall under one big umbrella: discipline. Living a disciplined life isn’t something that Americans find particularly appealing. We live in a binge and quit culture. If we can’t read an entire book in a sitting, we put it down and never take it back up. If we don’t master a new hobby or skill set in a quick amount of time, we throw up our hands in disgust. If we don’t lose 5 pounds the first week of a new diet, we give up and dive headfirst into the nearest tub of ice cream. I know- I do it too.
But I have found that, for me at least, the only way to truly grow as a person- or at this stage in my life, the only way to really get anything at all done (!)- is to have discipline in my approach. To plan ahead, to make a goal, and then to chip away at that goal, one tiny bite at a time.
As Christians, discipline should be something that awakens a holy desire in us. In fact, are Christ’s followers not called disciples? Inherent in the title alone is the practice of daily devotion. There was a time in my life when I was able to set crazy, ambitious goals, and then just do them. To run half marathons. To take up new hobbies. To read 100 books in a year. Those days came crashing to a halt the day my first child was born. For a while, accepting this was really hard. I didn’t realize how much of my identity was wrapped up in being a do-er. A reader. An artist. A person who did fun things and had adventures.
To be fair, I still do all these things. On a less grand scale. With much planning. And I still love doing them. But there is less applause involved. And part of my process of growing is realizing that this is ok. Do I run so that I can casually wear the race t-shirt at social gatherings or drop stories about my latest training program? Or do I run because I love being outside? Because I realize that excersize is a vital part of my own self-care? Because it feeds my soul? Losing some of the external applause, while humbling, also sharpens my ears to the song my own soul sings when I do things just for the joy of doing them.
Yet running, just like reading God’s word or painting a canvas, isn’t always the thing that I want to do at any given moment. How does one engage in doing things when we don’t feel like doing them? Discipline.
I am a goal setter. But I also recognize that setting achievable goals is an important practice. 10,000 steps per day. One chapter of this book each night. Paying attention to the food that goes into my mouth. The book takes longer to read. The weight takes longer to melt away.. but it happens.
Once you start achieving your small goals, it is kind of amazing how fast those small goals add up to big ones. 1 book finished becomes 10, then 30. A few ounces lost adds up to pounds. A few rows of knitting turns into a baby blanket. Slowly, one day at a time, you are reminded that you are a person that CAN do things, even if it takes longer. But, paradoxically, these things become more precious for the effort that went into them…