A totally free day ends up being a lot of pressure. I know there are quite a few people who want to have the freedom of working from home, but freedom isn’t always what it seems. To have freedom, you have to have quite a bit of will power, or you’ll simply shoot yourself in the foot. Sometimes you need structure to get anything done.
Today (as I’m writing this) I’m free of obligations all day, and of course I have quite a list of projects that I want to work on. I got up energised (if I have my eyes open, it counts as “energized”) and did my morning routine– water the plans, feed the birds, do a quick workout, drink a bunch of water– then I sat down at the computer. I knew what was coming next, and suddenly I felt a great deal of inertia. Writing a thousand words a day hasn’t become a habit yet– it’s not second nature, so it’s still really hard. I’m still trying to make it a habit. I almost gave up and and just put the writing off for a little while. no harm in that, right? But here are the problems with putting it off.
I might skip it entirely
This is, of course, a problem. If I do what I have to do right now, there’s no chance I’ll skip it.
Skipping my writing might happen in a number of ways: I might get distracted by something else and forget that I had to write entirely; something unforseen could arise later and make it impossible to write, or I could simply put it off again, and again. It would be easy to do this, because the first time I skipped I made it easier next time.
It will be easier to skip next time
Every lazy response makes it easier to be lazy next time, and unless you break the cycle of laziness, you can end up where you never wanted to be. There is a silver lining to this, however: every disciplined response make it easier to be disciplined next time. You basically are exponentially spiraling one way or the other, and if you break the cycle of laziness and start choosing to use will power, it just gets easier from there. The spiral starts turning in aid of what you want to do, albeit slowly at first, and eventually will power will become second nature to you.
I’m teaching myself bad behaviors
There’s really no reason to skip writing this morning, except that I really didn’t feel like it. Think about what I would be saying if I skipped: I would be telling my brain “Just because I don’t feel up to something is reason enough to not do it”. This is the opposite of the disciplined lifestyle that eventually leads to freedom. To be able to accomplish what I want to, I have to stick with my commitments, no matter how I feel, not just bail when I’m feeling a bit lazy. Someone defined the difference between children and adults this way: “Children do what feels good, Adults devise a plan and follow it”. Apparently I just need to continue to grow up.
I’m causing myself stress
I don’t think guilt is a good motivating force at all: if you only use guilt to get yourself to change, you’re going to have a difficult life. However, when you break a commentment, even to yourself, it causes some degree of stress. Even if you don’t realize it, when you break a commitment your shoulders tighten up a little bit, the little voice in your head starts berating you– you can’t discard commitments without repercussions. I guarantee that, had I skipped my writing this morning, my day wouldn’t have gone so well. I would probably feel a little out of sorts. Why? because I wasn’t acting the way I had chosen for myself, and there are repercussions.
So, it’s easy, right? Just do what you’re supposed to when you are supposed to, with a good attitude. Easy, right? Not on your life. I promise that saying yes to a disciplined lifestyle is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, and you’ll probably have to say “yes” to it again and again for the rest of your life. Practice will make it so much easier, but it will never be easy. There’s a demon in us that wants desperately for us to fail, and many people succumb. Don’t be one of them.
Challenge: Go do whatever you have been delaying most. Now.