Discipline is Bullshit

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Okay, discipline isn’t total bullshit, but the way I tend to think about it is pretty close.

It’s funny that I write this post at a time when, really, I’m embracing discipline more than I ever have. Then again, I tend to take things too far, so maybe that’s understandable.

Here’s what I’m getting at. It’s actually pretty obvious.

Passion without discipline won’t get anything done. Discipline without passion will burn you out.

Where you thrive between those two extremes will depend on temperament. I’m learning that I do best when I lean a bit toward chaos and what I feel like doing… but I do need a little discipline to keep me going.

Also, I have to pick my battles. I can only manage one activity that is mostly driven by discipline. For me right now, that’s learning Russian. When I start trying to add other things on top of that — things that I don’t really, truly care about — then they all start to unravel.

That’s pretty much the heart of it. As much as I like to think that the intellect is in the driver’s seat of my life — it isn’t. Without that pre-rational spark of desire, developing a given habit or skill is just not a live option for me.

Even when I have that spark, I have to match the amount of discipline I apply to the level of desire I feel. It’s like finding the best ratio of air and fuel for a fire. Groundbreaking analogy, I know.

In the past, I have decided more or less arbitrarily that a given skill is important and I need to develop it — whether or not I have a real, driving interest. Or I’ve taken something that I genuinely care about and exaggerated its importance. In either case, I burn out.

So that’s why I say discipline is bullshit. In the sense of the paragraph above, discipline is for posers and people who don’t really know what they want.

Yup. That’s all I’ve got. Discipline tells me to wrap this up in a more polished way, but you know what? Fuck that.

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