It may seem crazy to put the words love and discipline together because many of us regard discipline as something yucky, as something that we just don't want to have in our lives. But, the problem with seeing discipline in this negative way is that if we don't have it, we will never achieve our goals.
So, let's talk about how to fall in love with discipline and stay motivated as a musician and performer.
Is Discipline a Dirty Word?
But does a lack of discipline mean we are lazy? Is laziness the opposite of discipline, or are we missing something?
One of my clients is a drummer who told me that when he was a kid, his family told him he was lazy and had no discipline because every time he came back home from school, he would rush into his practise room to practise drums for hours instead of doing his homework.
So, they told him he didn't have any discipline,
But the reality is that he had loads of discipline when it came down to playing his drums. He just didn't want to do his homework. So, was he really lazy or just not interested in what other people expected him to do?
Often we think that discipline is something we have to do, not something we want to do. But what if we saw discipline as self-discipline, something that I desire when calling the shots, and all I have to do is ask myself, "what do I want and why do I want it?"
Discipline is a problem when imposed on us by others, but it is not a problem if WE decide that we want something. For example, if we're going to learn to play a specific song on the piano, then that's the goal that we choose to take steps to achieve.
Obedience vs. Self-disciplined Mindset
So the obedience mindset asks, "Is this really worth it?" We don't want to do it because we hate the task or the person that's telling us to do it.
When you are in a self-discipline mindset, you say to yourself, "yes, this may be hard, but it is worth it because it serves my own best interest, and it leads to a sense of satisfaction and reward in the end. If I do this, I will achieve my goals."
When we embrace self-discipline as a tool for overcoming our challenges, we get closer to achieving a goal that we have set for ourselves. That is why self-discipline is freedom because it gets you where you want to go.
I'll give you an example of this. Say that you buy a car because you want to go to the beach and visit friends on the weekends. You wouldn't say, "Oh, I can't wait to fill the car with gas and pay for it." Of course not. But you will do that without thinking twice because your goal is to go to the beach and see your friends.
The difference is in the mindset, Do you choose to focus on the destination, the beach, and the trip, seeing your friends? Or the steps you need to take to get there, like putting fuel in the car and paying for it?
Have to and Want to
Self-discipline doesn't mean that you only do what you want to and forget about the have to. If you want X, Y, or Z, you have to do this exercise if you're going to play this song.
Self-discipline comes from keeping in mind that achieving your goal is more durable and sustainable than the short-term tasks and challenges along the way. Those challenges are worth it.
Self-discipline is Your Friend
So, remember that self-discipline is like a friend that helps you get to where you want to be. And for this friend to help you, you have to know what you want and why you want it.
It would help if you also made the important choice to be loyal and work for your future self, not your past. When you become clear about what you want and show yourself that you can consistently take steps to achieve your goals, you will find that you actually have more discipline than you thought.
What if You Don't Feel Like it?
The next question can be, well, sure, but what if I don't feel like it? And now, we get to talk about motivation. The word motivation comes from motive, which means "a reason that you give yourself for doing something." Like in a criminal case, the motive is why the criminal did what they did.
So first, ask yourself what it is that you want to accomplish. You should be clear about the end game.
- You will want to define that goal. You need to know what you want. Otherwise you don't know what to do to get it.
- Secondly, you need to ask yourself why you want that thing. What is the benefit, the final reward that makes it worth it? You need to have a strong and clear "why."
- Then you need to ask yourself, "do I believe that I've got what it takes to get there?" You need to have confidence in your ability to get to where you want to go. You need to trust the process.
Is Your Strategy Wrong?
Do you trust the process? Do you have reason to believe that you can pull it off? And, do you think that the strategy that you've chosen is the right one? If you don't have confidence that your approach is getting you closer to your goal, then you need to ask yourself if this is the wrong approach, and if so, what to do to change it?
Often we can assume that a project is not working because we think our goal is wrong or because we don't have what it takes. But sometimes, it's simply the process that is wrong.
To give you an example, when I first started playing drums, I put a lot of hours into practise. I practised various exercises from different courses and left zero time for play.
Even though I got better after a few months, I got stuck because I was not having fun, and I did not have any motivation to continue playing. And for a while, this disturbed me because I thought, "how is it possible that my motivation for playing drums had suddenly disappeared when I loved it a few months ago? What is wrong with me?"
And the reason was that I was not having fun. I was too hard on myself.
So, in this case, there was nothing wrong with me or with the goal. The goal was fine, and I was fine. But the process I was using was utterly wrong.
Is Your Goal Really Your Idea?
Also, if you are not motivated, make sure that you are not doing what you are doing because of somebody else's expectations. For example, if you play an instrument and have a teacher, are you playing what you're playing because that is what your teacher wants, or are you allowed to choose your own goals?
If you're only doing something because of someone else's expectations, it's not going to work.
Again, to give you an example, I started playing the piano when I was twelve. I was pretty young. My teacher asked me if I wanted to play classical music or modern music? I wanted to play contemporary music, but I was too shy to tell her the truth. And I thought that she wanted me to say that I wanted to play classical music.
So I said classical music. And, of course, I didn't enjoy what I was doing, and I was not motivated.
The Importance of Monitoring Your Progress
Finally, to stay motivated, you need to monitor your progress regularly.
If your progress is evident, you will trust that your path is the right path and that your approach is working.
I use a sheet of paper with different dots where each dot represents ten hours of drumming. Every time I play for 10 hours, I fill in the bubble with black ink, showing me that I have progressed.
I also take videos of my practice to see where I was six months ago and compare it to where I am now. This is a great way to measure your growth.
Learn from What Worked
So my invitation for you today is to think about three goals you managed to accomplish in the past. Think about these three goals and note what you did to make them happen. Write down the steps you took, the things that worked, and the things that didn't work.
We often focus more on the goals that we did not achieve, but it's essential to learn from what we did succeed at to repeat the behaviours that made that possible.
Not Motivated? Ask Yourself This
When thinking about a specific step that you need to take to achieve your goal, think about this step in itself and ask yourself,
"is this step in alignment with the goal?" "Is it worthwhile to put my time and effort into this, and does this really mean something to me?"
Don't just get busy for the sake of being busy because that might be a waste of your time.
So, in other words:
Choose a strategy that's most likely to get you to where you want to be and ask yourself, "is this the right strategy? Is this the right exercise for me to do for what I want to improve?"
Your strategy needs to be connected to the reason why you are doing what you're doing and why you don't feel motivated. Ask yourself, "is it clear to me why I am doing this?"
And if not, get clear and ask yourself. "Am I confident that the method I am choosing to achieve this goal is the right one?"
Don't simply change your goal if it is the strategy that needs changing, and be sure to measure your progress regularly. Do this scientifically, use a journal, or record yourself so that you can compare yourself today from what you were when you started.
Do you have any tips for achieving discipline and staying motivated? Drop me a line and let me know.
When you become clear about what you want and show yourself that you can consistently take the steps to achieve your goals, you will find that you actually have more discipline than you thought.