Discipline is tough, y’all.
When you’re an ENFP, the road to discipline sometimes begins to look too steep and just the thought of starting the journey is exhausting.
With so many distractions and possibilities competing for our attention, it is easy to stray from what is in front of us. The project that we start today can easily become yesterday’s news when a fresh idea arises.
Technology has opened up the box of instant gratification to such a level that now we don’t need to stay focused to obtain our basic needs. Out of groceries? Order them online and they’ll be delivered to your door. Want a date? Sign up for any plethora of dating sites and pick someone. Is it mindless entertainment that you’re seeking? Stream something on netflix, or hulu plus, or amazon or…
It is endless.
And, once you get on the wheel of distractions it is very difficult to get off. So very difficult.
Take this post for example, before I wrote a single word down I wasted time on facebook, answered at least 10 text messages that were not by any means urgent, I heard a song on pandora and took a ‘break’ to dance around my apartment. A break from what exactly? Apparently a break from thinking about how I should be working, certainly not from productivity.
And, sure, this example is inconsequential; my post was written, posted and no one lost an hour of sleep because I was a day late with the post.
But, how do we work with distractions when it counts? How do we stick to deadlines? How does focus become more than a mantra and actually a word that we embody? How do we see something through until the end?
There are a couple of efforts that have proved beneficial for me.
One of the most important ones is not starting something for which I don’t feel anything more than merely excitement. I get excited over many, many possibilities. Ideas race by quickly and almost every single one comes accompanied with a level of excitement. Excitement isn’t enough to sustain a new endeavor.
If the goal is to stay focused and see something through, then there needs to be more than excitement. Before engaging in something new, I ask myself what it would mean to me not to participate and what it would mean to get involved. If I can’t organically think of another reason to engage other than the excitement of starting something new, then I’ll pass on the idea. It needs to have a heavier meaning.
Recalling the reason why I started something to begin with helps me when distractions pop up.
Working with distractions instead of avoiding them has also helped me stay focused. I work with the windows open (I live on a busy street), music is always playing (loudly, because what’s the point of having it on otherwise?), and I keep my phone on and next to me.
I make myself aware of these distractions, come to terms with them, and make a decision not to let them interfere with my work. Yes, it’s difficult. As I mentioned, I still have trouble not stepping away from my laptop to go dancing around when a good song comes on. But, I have found that it is more difficult for me to avoid distractions when I’m not expecting them. If I suddenly hear a siren out on the street or my phone alerts me that I have unread text messages, then I am more likely to stop what I’m doing and give in to distractions.
The nearness of the distractions force me to accept that they are there and if I started working with them present, with the conversations outside my window, the alerts on my phone, etc., then I can finish working with them still present.
It may sound like torture, but it has really helped me with discipline. The acknowledgement of the distraction and ability to stay focused despite of it is a magical kind of empowerment.
Just as importantly, I play and allow room for instant gratification when it will be more helpful rather than hurtful.
Sustaining discipline and seeing something through won’t happen if we don’t make time for play. There needs to be a release and recharge. After all, no one wants to be that person whose memories are lacking in the enjoyment arena.
How do you stay disciplined while maintaining a healthy life balance?
Featured blog image by Anthony Sordini