Working on your own schedule from a home-office is a dream for many, who drag their butt to the office every morning and sit there, counting the minutes, until they can leave for lunch or home. But this lifestyle brings many challenges that either force you to grow up a bit or get a different job.
The undeniable pull of the comforts of your bed.
The fridge, that maybe, just maybe today has started to produce tasty surprises out of thin air.
The laundry pile that is staring you with reproach.
The dog that needs to walk.
All those little things that give you a reason to postpone work. It will just take a minute, right?! Wrong! It will take you 10 minutes plus 10 minutes and… before you know, the kids are back from school and you have not done any work yet.
I have been resisting the growing up part of life for quite some time fairly successfully, I must admit. But getting a different job is not that easy here, so at some point I realised that it is about time to grow up just a little bit and find some self discipline.
I guess my first Eureka moment came, through the genius of Mark Manson. I have been praising his piece about not giving a fuck for a long time. But this was a different piece. With his very distinctive style, Mark wrote that screw finding your passion!
That was one of those pieces that sheds light with brutal honest to all of those things that you really don’t want to know. I have been writing so much about finding your passion! I have been soul-searching for what makes me happy and who do I want to be when I grow up. While doing that, I have postponed growing up and really doing anything. Like Mark writes “Life is all about not knowing, and then doing something anyway”.
The problem is not passion. The problem is productivity!
We all have our passions. Many of them. But most of the time we moan about how we can not turn these into a profession and we HAVE to stay at a job, that we don’t really enjoy. HAVE to! As if someone else, something external has forced us into this. Stubbornly closing our eyes to the fact the absolutely everything in life is a choice. Everything is our own creation, knowingly or not. You always make a choice and with that you win some, you lose some. Maybe you gain financial security over personal happiness… wait… that is going into slavery willingly! Isn’t it?
Anyway, my problem is not that I slave my days away, while not living my life. I have an opposite problem. I fill my days with hedonistic pleasures and personal life and then moan that I don’t have an income. Well, guess what – if you are not doing much, then you are not earning much!
What if we are just lazy?
Mark’s ideas were emphasized in December, when I visited Estonia. On the first week I visited a friend, who is very busy with some seriously inspiring projects and whose partner is a CEO of a big company. We had a nice dinner, and as it was late, we stayed the night. After about 5-6 hrs of sleep, both of our hosts get up in the morning and start doing stuff. No complaining that they “have” to work, no procrastinating. Just doing. That’s when I turned to my dear L and asked, “What if our problem is that we are just lazy?”
Labelling us “lazy” is not going to help here, because that only contributes to self-hate, and self-hate only contributes to more procrastinating. But at the same time we have to face the reality. Things are not happening, because we are not making them happen. And that’s a choice too. Just not a very conscious one. We just don’t have enough self-discipline to push ourselves out of the comfort zone and doing more, instead of sleeping in, having a long lunch and even longer conversations.
So, how to find self discipline?
That was the quest for this January. And as always, once you have asked the right question, you will start to find the answers.
First I read about this interesting idea of a 5AM challenge. One of my favourite Greek bloggers, Ekaterina, is writing about how she finds the time to set a good course for the whole day by taking one hour just for herself in the morning. That hour is divided into three 20-minute parts. She starts with some yoga/pilates, continues to take care of some chores and finishes the hour with reading or listening something. That routine helps her to organize and de-clutter her mind, so that she can focus better on her goals and daily plans.
While this idea was very inspiring, it is not very realistic in my case. There is absolutely no way, I will wake up at 5AM. I have tried that and failed miserably. I am just not a morning person and trying to change that never ends well. So, while keeping in mind the idea of dedicating a structured hour to myself, I will find a different timing for that.
The other piece that really helped me to find some discipline is an article that suggests to create rules that will make your goals happen. It is a lovely gentle way of setting up some easy-to-follow rules for yourself, that will guide you step-by-step into being more mindful, present, focused and productive. After reading this I started with my first rule – every night I write down two goals for the next day. These goals are easy and not necessarily time consuming. Work is not among them, work has to happen besides that anyway. These goals are there to get me up, get me going and give me a warm happy feeling of “job well done”, so that I will be more active and motivated throughout the day.
Motivated by fear vs motivated by love
The sad truth is that most of us are never taught to find our own discipline and motivation. We go to school, where we learn for the teacher and get things done in fear of getting scolded or failing the class. After being pushed through the education system by nagging parents and teachers, we get work done because of deadlines and nagging colleagues or in fear of the boss. If you live your life the “right” way, you will never have to find intrinsic motivation – there will always be something or someone who “makes” you do things.
The real motivation behind this is usually fear. Fear of losing a job and an income with it. Fear of losing the respect of others, the identity that is created by your occupation. But fear-based motivation usually does not get us far and never really makes us happy. We have to find motivation that is based on love. Love for yourself, love for your job, your family, your home, your society. Once you find that motivation, productivity will come with it, naturally.
Until you are still searching for that motivation, just DO stuff. The more things you do, the more possibilities of finding out, what is the job the gets you out of bed in the morning with joy.