A New Year’s resolution. In April.

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It’s more than a little ironic that this blog post emanated from my realisation that I have for some time lacked (self) discipline in terms of producing blog posts. The wonderful Wikipedia describes self-discipline as ‘another way of defining will-power’, and I’m not going to argue with that. So boiling all this down, I decided that I would try to achieve two ends at the same time. By declaring an intent to bring more rigour and regularity to what I produce, while at the same time talking about the concept itself. Let me expand on that a little.

I have found in recent times that I have many ideas about subjects which I’d like to expound on. Partly these emerge and crystallise while I’m on a training cycle – the benefits of ‘thinking time’. I also find that my dog-walking interludes throw up random ideas, beyond the mere need to control my ageing hounds. I even get to the point of making mental notes for myself about potential topics of interest and jotting them down on my iPhone afterwards. I have drawn the line at a Dictaphone, but who knows? However after the note-taking, of late the process has been breaking down. I get distracted, succumb to other priorities, and then suddenly I realise that it’s a month or more since I posted something.

My impression is that when it comes to blogging (or indeed tweeting, which I’d characterise as mini-blogging in its original pre-corporate-hijacking format), regularity is very important, as is the development of a consistent ‘voice’. Hence my resolution to adopt a self-discipline around this. For me, Sunday nights are a kind of natural ‘taking stock’ time, so my new game-plan is to produce something (anything!) on Sunday night, refine it thereafter, and post weekly.

To keep myself ‘on message’ I have decided to label the blog as ‘Sunday Night Writes’ (also a sort of homage to the wonderful sports book ‘Friday Night Lights’ which you owe it to yourself to read). Let’s see how it goes and if I can keep my discipline…

As for Discipline itself, why the fuss? Well I was lucky enough to go a few years ago to a talk given by a senior manager who had lost his job in a large bank due to ‘downsizing’ and had re-invented himself as a motivational speaker. He was very engaging, not only a great presenter/showman, but he got to the heart of the matter very effectively. His big theme, born from personal experience, was the importance of self-discipline and how it is vitally important in multiple contexts, not least when ‘things are falling apart’. Without stealing his best lines, he talked about ‘worth’ and self-respect in very compelling terms. The primary observation was that you can’t give someone a sense of their own worth. They have to find it themselves, and the proposition was that self-discipline greatly aids with this, both in terms of retaining/regaining confidence and also as a measure of recovery time. The idea being that if you suffer a disappointment that knocks your equilibrium, the more disciplined you are the better chance you have of getting ‘back on track’ quickly.

I found this an engaging proposition. And in fact – having read a bit more on the topic – discovered that it’s a widely held view based (yes!) on scientific research. So it must be true, right? Perhaps ‘having a routine’ and sticking to it really does work in times of adversity, but I guess the routine itself may have to change and adapt in response to a different climate. The other thing I took from that session (and wrote on my crowded workplace wall on a post-it) is a further definition – ‘Discipline is the ability to delay gratification’. Which works for me too, in a certain context (stay away from the cream bun). Finally, Wikipedia suggests that ‘People who possess high self-discipline are able to overcome reluctance to begin tasks and stay on track despite distractions’. I feel better already – it’s like New Year’s Day all over again!

So that’s it – the plan now is to introduce a bit (maybe even a lot) more self-discipline into my blogging output and see if it helps me create a consistent cycle. It’s a bit like a lonely hearts ad – ‘Content seeks a partner, discipline welcomed’. Sadly it sounds a bit like Fifty Shades of Grey, but I’ll persist. Watch this space.

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