Day Two: When Pursuit Becomes Purpose

Alright. Part 2 of the doing things mini blog series. The topic: Discipline.

And we’re done. Good talk.

Ok, fine, I’ll elaborate. Really this part was supposed to be last in the series as it is the least delightful but essential part of doing. I just didn’t feel like going into the actual part 2 tonight about self-belief tonight…it’s been a long day. Which makes tonight’s topic all the more topical.

When there is something you want to do, a ‘goal’ if we must name it that, there is only one way to get it: by going after it.

Life is not like The Hobbit where you can sit at home and an adventure and success will stumble drunkenly across your threshold. Even those who play the lottery actively go out and buy the dumb things and scratch them off. Money, success, fame, relationships, satisfaction will not fall into your lap. At least not the kind worth having. 99.99999% of the time it involves effort.

As per yesterday’s post, let’s assume you have a goal. It may be wrong, but you think it’s right. That’s OK. Set a time frame to reevaluate how happy your goals make you and worry about it then. For now we are in ass-kicking, taking names mode.

You are certain your goal will take you to the heights you wish to attain, so go out and do it. Day after day perform actionable steps towards the end you have chosen. That’s all discipline is.

I won’t belabor the infinite ways to organize your steps, measure progress, or overcome hardship. That’s the realm of the millions of life hackers. Hack if you must, but nothing beats sheer heads-down grit. If you are easily distracted or dissuaded from daily action towards your goal, do not worry. Well, maybe worry a little bit. Easily dropping commitments or often feeling depressed around your choices means you have likely chosen the wrong goal. Go back to square one and find the goal you are meant to have and not the one your parents or friends think you’re supposed to have.

But even if you do think you have the right goal there will still be niggling objections. It’s what Steven Pressfield calls resistance. Resistance takes many forms to keep you from your true work. Social pressure, addiction, busy-ness, errands, energy, bills, etc.

Resistance is the mortal enemy of discipline. Kill it by performing regardless of everything. As Neil Gaimon says, “You’re cat exploded? Make good art.” Better watch him say it, it’s far better.

You don’t have to become your goal in a day, but you should become a little bit of it every day. It may take twenty years to achieve depending on the goal. Time is not the enemy, only resistance.

Soon, if your goal is true to your spirit, you will find your chosen discipline to be meaning in itself. The goal may be achieved and you will hardly notice.

Seemingly discipline becomes the goal. And that is how to really do the shit out of something.