I’m inspired by the exploration that the Studio Light Apprentices have been doing around the concept of Discipline this past month. Coming from a teaching background, the word has some pretty negative connotations for me. The word “discipline” brings up concepts like punishment, negative consequences, obligations, feeling like I have to make myself do something unfun, etc.
Recently I watched a video in which Will Smith defines discipline as self-love because, he explains, you are doing things for yourself or not doing things for yourself in the short-term in order to achieve and become what you truly want in the long-term.
I love how this definition changes discipline as something dictated by forces outside of us to something that we do for ourselves and in service of ourselves and of those people, causes, goals and dreams that we care about.
I have read articles where successful artists and writers credit much of their success to discipline. They make sure they are in their seat to write or in their studio to make something at a certain time, usually in the early morning, and they work all day long, as if someone (themselves) was asking them to clock in and out. Living as a creative person doesn’t just mean you have inspiration and, therefore, motivation all the time. It means regularly showing up for the process and cultivating a space for the magic to happen each day.
And sometimes we have slumps. I had a few challenging weeks where I over-scheduled myself and didn’t leave enough chunks of creative time. This is very draining for me. Ultimately, I was not disciplined in how I organized my time and I paid for it.
After questioning why I felt like I was in a funk, I did find the discipline to do some things that I know bring me back to an energized, creative space. I hit the reset button instead of letting myself swirl farther down the drain. This reminds me of how one of Studio Light’s Apprentices, Egle, defines discipline as “coming back” which resonates with me especially after this experience. It’s showing up again after you fall off your own discipline wagon. It’s knowing that failing is a part of the process. Each time you learn new lessons and can adjust your sails a bit.
A big theme throughout all my conversations with the Apprentices, was the need for help - both recognizing the need for help and being able to ask for it. Many people can identify with a belief that we are less-than in some kind of way if we can’t commit to and follow through with the things we want to do all on our own. This can even lead to a place of erroneously thinking that perhaps we didn’t really want it enough or deserve it enough.
All I know is that the more I practice asking for help from others in the things I want to be disciplined in, the more success I am finding. Sometimes just sharing my goal is enough. Sometimes I need a check-in. Sometimes I want someone to do it with me. I’m learning to ask for what I need and I’m also learning to ask what they need because, chances are, they could use some support too!
Another one of Studio Light’s Apprentices, Amanda, is a mom, teacher and illustrator. She mentioned that, for her, sometimes discipline means regularly taking time away from mothering and teaching to enjoy making something for herself. That statement in-and-of-itself made me realize how I held a deeply rooted belief that disciplining yourself is making yourself do something you don’t want to do.
You mean discipline can be fun?! A part of me knew this, but I have only just begun playing with the idea. I mean just watch any kid who is excited to do something. They will spend HOURS learning about it, trying it out and talking about it. I want to do things that are good for me AND I want to do it in an enjoyable way. It is so helpful within my larger practice of finding ways to be joyful in all I do which all adds up to a joyful life.
So let’s find more ways to have fun with the things we want to be disciplined in! This brings up questions in my mind such as, “How do I make scheduling fun?” HA! Share your ideas on how to make discipline fun in the comments below and let’s inspire and support each other in the discipline it takes to make creative dreams come true.