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How to Practice in Spite of Yourself: Discipline

Sometimes, we just DON’T WANNA. For example, sometimes you spend two hours cleaning windows, after four hours of a manual labor job and three of intense Career Building stuff, and you remember you need to write a blog post today, and you Don’t Wanna. A prime indicator of Adultiness in the mentally healthy person is how well they can buckle down, exert some discipline, and do the stuff they Don’t Wanna Do. I must be at least close to being a real adult, because here I am, writing a post. Here are four major ways to get yourself to Do Stuff Anyway.

Have a reason to do the thing.

A lot of people have tasks that they feel obligated to do, but which don’t really have a reason behind them. Sure, flossing because you’re supposed to is better than not flossing. However, really knowing why flossing is important helps motivate you to floss more often. The same thing goes for studying or practicing. Have a goal that your practice and studying is designed to help you reach. It will make it much easier to use some discipline to actually go and do the thing.

Set up reminders to do the thing.

Honestly, if there’s something I NEED to accomplish that I just can’t bring myself to do, I have my Mom remind me. She enjoys the sanctioned nagging, and I want it to end, so I do the thing. Phone alarms and calendar events also work. I’ve even left sticky notes for myself if it was something location-dependent. I basically bother myself into doing what needs to get done.

Instill consequences for not doing the thing.

I used an app called Habitica to get my daily stuff done. When I don’t complete a task one day, I literally lose HP in the app. You lose too much HP, your character dies. If that’s not for you, set up bets with your friends, or announce a deadline to the world, or something else relevant to your situation. The goal is to use some deadline-panic for good. If something bad happens if you don’t do the thing, then you’ll be more inclined to get it done.

Make it easier to do the thing than not do it.

I am WAY more likely to write a post if I am already on my laptop. It’s easier to type there than on my phone. I can open multiple windows and see them all at once. It’s just so nice. So, when I’m really on the ball, I’ll make sure to open up my laptop in the morning to go through my normal internet routine instead of my phone. It makes me much more likely to actually write a post.

You can leave your notes open on your desk. Leave your instrument and sheet music in plain sight. Maybe lay out your exercise clothes the night before. Just do your best to make the Thing you need to do a little easier to actually accomplish.

Doing stuff is hard. But if I have enough discipline to write this post at 11pm, while cranky, you can totally go practice for a bit. You got this.

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