When it comes to productivity and discipline, I’m an incurable perfectionist. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I get a lot done, it just means that no matter what I do, I almost never live up to my own standards. I’ve read all the books and tried all the things, but the methods and techniques only work for so long. A deeper shift is needed, and I’ve been working on that a lot lately.
I often approach this kind of work with the question, “How would I LIKE it to be?” So when I applied that question to this situation, I was shocked to realize that it was REALLY hard for me to even IMAGINE myself being consistently disciplined and productive in the way I wanted to be. So I figured I may as well start there…
It took me a very, very long time to write out the list below, and it felt like pulling a rope tied to a rock at the bottom of the ocean. To me, it represents a conscious narrative about who, what, and how I am as a human being. Or perhaps it’s a mantra, because all these statements are true about me at least some of the time.
I practice joyful discipline because it makes life easier.
I plan ahead so I always know what’s most important.
I surrender easily to the day’s tasks.
I remove sources of distraction.
I focus intently on one thing at a time.
I proactively cultivate my concentration.
I take small steps towards big goals every day.
I enjoy a deep sense of meaning and purpose.
I hold reasonable expectations for myself.
I strive for “good enough,” and “done.”
I am kind and patient towards myself.
I have enough time and energy for what is actually needed.
I know that whatever I’m able to do today is enough.
I am inspired, creative, and productive.
I am generous, responsive, and reliable.
As often as I can, I have been planting these seeds of truth in my awareness and watering them with my attention and care. Unlike many of the other techniques and methods I’ve tried, this practice actually FEELS GOOD. It connects me to what’s more deeply true about myself and about life, and from that place, it’s a hell of a lot easier (and more enjoyable) to get things done.
Simultaneously, I’m practicing gentleness, patience, and loving-kindness towards the other tendencies that I also have. I don’t want to set up an adversarial situation within myself - that doesn’t help. And I’m finding that this approach of paying attention to what I DO want, to how I AM strong, and what DOES work... well, it’s working :-)