Holy crap, time flies. We’re rapidly approaching the year’s halfway point - how’d that happen? This year has been an odd one so far. Not bad, but friction-y at times. It’s the only way I can describe it. There’s been a lot of things in the works. I’ve been tying up loose ends and negotiating a lot of “not quite yets”. I’m pretty sure the new chapter has finally arrived in the station, but the doors haven’t opened yet. There is still much work to do.
It makes sense. My word for the year is Discipline. Let me explain. For the last few years, at the suggestion of a friend, every January I pick a word for the coming year. The word has an energy and I make a commitment to that energy, calling it in and letting it inform my year. It can be what I’m striving for, what I want to work on, or something I'd like to bring into my life in the coming year. It’s what I’m looking to cultivate.
It's a scary prospect choosing a word like discipline. I've noticed that once you “call in” a word, it doesn't just “happen” - like, magically Oh wow, now I have discipline! Instead, life seems to suddenly provide ample opportunities to work on it, and plenty examples of where you’re falling short. It’s like the Universe hears you and says Ah! That’s what you want to work on? Ok, let me help you out - and proceeds to give you ways to fight for what you’ve said you’re after. It doesn’t always come easy.
In taking a good hard look at myself, discipline is something I’ve discovered I need to work on. The word itself used to kind of strike fear into my heart. It’s a pretty “hardcore” word. This year I finally became ready to fully commit to it.
To be fair, I’d say I have had a fair amount of discipline in some areas of my life; I don’t think I’d have the career that I have if I didn’t. But in other areas, it’s lacking, and it’s something I’ve become tuned into. A year and a half ago I started doing CrossFit. It's been a real eye opener, and a tremendous force in my life, teaching me so much about myself. I have been reminded of how much joy it brings me to be physically fit and “in my body”. It also feels badass to be strong and to be able to do things I never thought I could. I’ve gotten really present to what a fighter I am. I am a scraper; I’ll stick it out even when I’m the last one to finish, even when I am lifting less than everyone else or running slower - I’m nothing if not dedicated when I set my mind to something.
But it’s also highlighted my deficits. The biggest one: I’m highly emotional and I often let that get in the way. Many times I work against myself, focusing on the bad instead of the good, or on what’s hard or how I feel about it, instead of just doing the thing. (One of our coaches favorite expressions: “Do the thing, Rachel, just DO THE THING!”). I tend to have a running dialogue in my head that gets in the way. Oh my God, this is so awful, I can’t do this. This sucks, this is going to take forever, I’m so tired, I hate this…on and on. It bleeds me of my energy and leaves me drained. It definitely doesn’t help.
An old yoga teacher of mine used to say, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” I have found this to be true. Seeing my struggle in CrossFit has helped me to see where I struggle in other areas of my life.
So I've been concentrating on mental toughness. Grace under pressure. Focus and control. On showing up and Doing the Thing. Being disciplined in my daily life. Every day. Whether I feel like it or not.
That looks like getting up to hit the gym 4 days/week at 7am. It also looks like structured writing time every day to move towards completion of my book, less personal calls and emails during work hours (and way less time on social media), planning my meals so I don’t waste time and energy making bad food choices, scheduling my life in increments so I can make sure I get to the things that are important to me.
I’m also striving for the discipline in perhaps less measurable, but more paradigm shifting ways: I'm working on changing the dynamic in my life from being reactionary, having my whole life revolve around responding to the demands of others - the next job, the next audition, the next phone call or email or post, and instead to call the shots myself, to schedule time for the things that are important to me and stick to them.
I am clear this is a year to plant seeds, to be more disciplined with the structure of my day and the hours in it. It's time to move the ball forward. It’s time to put in the hard work. This doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. In fact, I’ve found that with discipline comes great freedom and even joy, once you give up the mental anguish.
Do I always get all of this right every day? Not even close. But it's what I'm up to. There is no real glamour in the day to day grinding it out towards your goals. I tend to be lazy and a crybaby and fall easily into victimhood. But if I want to have an extraordinary life, I need to be extraordinary. This takes discipline, and that’s what it’s all about for me this year.
Do you have a word for the year? What are you working on? I’d love to hear!