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Focus vs. Discipline

I published this post with the permission of my Loveawake dating site client.

One of my admissions coaching clients has been struggling lately. She has consistently missed the deadlines I set for her, put off taking the tests I ask her to take, and just seems a little scrambled all-around. During our most recent session, she said:

“I’ve been thinking to myself ‘I really lack focus. I just need to focus. And then a voice said to me ‘You are focused. What you lack is discipline.’”

This statement resonated with both of us. My client certainly is focused. She knows that she wants to go to a top business school and be an entrepreneur in the fashion space. She knows that she wants to go to school now. Despite all her focus, my client lacked the other half needed to make her application process flow—and that is discipline.

Then I started to think about my own life. I am certainly a focused person. Anyone who knows me knows that I want to 1) Be a famous writer, and 2) Be a major TV personality. My career goals are focused and they are clear—to me and everyone who knows me. However, my daily actions are not disciplined.

I’m focused on finding my life partner. Everyone who knows me know that is important to me. But I often lack the discipline to be the best partner I know I can be. I say things I know I shouldn’t say, do things I know I shouldn’t do—all because I often put immediate gratification above the delayed (and bigger) rewards that come with discipline.

Discipline is pursuing your craft like it is a professional job. Discipline is doing one thing at a time and not trying to multi-task. Discipline is not letting spontaneous plans and ideas derail you from your work.

Though I’ve been very focused in my pursuit of my dreams, I have not been very disciplined. Discipline in terms of my TV and Writing dreams looks like:

  • Writing every single day no matter what.
  • Writing at a real desk sitting in a chair and wearing real clothes (not writing in bed on a lapdesk in yoga pants like I am now)
  • Turning off the internet while I’m writing so I can focus
  • Knowing what my one priority for the day regarding writing/TV and get that done first.
  • Having a clear map of what I will be doing this week, this month, this season, and this year (whereas I randomly wake up everyday and figure out what I’ll do)
  • Keeping track of writing and TV opportunities and applying to them with my best effort (rather than just waiting for people to send me stuff)

In terms of my romantic relationship, exercising more discipline would look like:

  • Not keeping my (very busy) boyfriend on the phone for hours
  • Not complaining about something I know isn’t that important
  • Not insisting on being right if the likelihood of my being right is just as much as him being right
  • Thinking twice before making repeated back-to-back requests for him to travel, attend expensive events, etc.
  • Not talking to him when I’m exhausted—and focusing on me instead!
  • Not being overly nosy about stuff that isn’t that important (e.g. “Where are you driving from?” when I hear him driving while we’re on the phone)

Like the Zen Buddhists, I believe there is great freedom in discipline. I’m ready to feel more free—and less bound by the pull and tug of my whims.

Girls: What are some ways that you have been exercising a lack of discipline in your life—and what are you going to do about it?

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