A little shout out to Stephen Colbert there…
Several of my friends have talked to me about having a word for the year. A word that gives the year a theme and a focus. I’ve never really done anything like that. I’ve made plenty of resolutions over the year, but never thought of one word becoming a guiding force. It seems simultaneously simpler and more complicated. On one hand, one word is easier to remember and seems like less of a commitment. On the other hand, a single word can be fluid in its meaning and differ based off of circumstances. “I’m going to the gym three times a week” is pretty straightforward. I’m going to live the year around the word “hope” is far more complex, particularly when things feel hopeless.
“Hope” is not my word for the year, though it would be a good one. A hopeful outlook wouldn’t hurt me as I approach a new year. My friends have chosen words like “faith”, “enough”, “peace”, “joy” as their words. All of those are loaded and can morph based on circumstances. I think that’s what makes them work. In some ways, you have to be looking for your word.
My word found me in a strange way. It has recurred throughout the week as a pattern and I am paying attention. What put me over the edge was a conversation between several of my customers. I was selling one couple a device when another of my regular customers came over to say “goodbye” and wish me a Merry Christmas. The couple was in their 70’s as is this customer. They immediately began bantering about the old days, about military service, about grandkids. They took a couple of lighthearted jabs at yours truly. (I have a bit of a rapport with the one customer, it was all in fun). Then, of course, they began to talk about kids these days. So disrespectful, they are! Back in their day, you got whacked for acting the way kids these days do. Now you can’t even beat your kids because you’ll go to jail. If you’ve read some of the other things I’ve written lately, you’ll know that this was something of a triggering conversation to overhear. I smiled and nodded. They didn’t really need me there other than that I was still holding the yet to rung up device. The summation of the conversation was that kids these days lack discipline.
Now I don’t disagree. Kids lack discipline. Adults lack discipline. Countries lack discipline. Markets lack discipline. What I do disagree on is their definition of “discipline”. The first definition of “discipline” given in a quick google search is “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience”. That was the definition this triad was operating with. It is what we typically use to describe discipline. It’s not my favorite.
I took latin for a year in college. The latin word from which we derive “discipline” is “discipulus” which knowledge or instruction or one dedicated to knowledge and instruction. It is where we get the word disciple. It means student. “Discipline” can also be a verb. “To train oneself to do something in a habitual way”. (Thanks, google! It’s 4 am and I’m super lazy). To be a student, to be in training, to be dedicated to knowledge and instruction. Yes. To develop patterns in my life in a habitual way. Yes. This is what I need in my life right now. Discipline.
As I look over my life, the things that have not developed in my life the way that I would like are that way because I have not been disciplined in my pursuit of them. They have not been habitual. This year, I want to develop new habits. New habits with my body. New habits with my creativity. New habits with my space and with my stuff. New habits with my time. New habits in my relationships. All of that comes from being dedicated to training myself. And perhaps being dedicated to the teachings of a wise teacher or two. One comes to mind. (“I’ll bet he’s talking about Jesus”)
There are certainly things I want to do as a habit. I want to exercise more. Eat better. Be more organized. Play my bass more. Write more. Read more. But there are also things I want to be. I want to be more mindful. I want to be more grateful. I want to be more focused. I want live simpler and lighter. I want to be a student of life. Yes, that sounds super cheesy. Go write your own damn blogpost.
Discipline is my word. A word cloud comes with it. “training” “habit” “pattern” “accountability” “awareness” “humility”. These words are corollary. Discipline is my theme. I plan to fail at this, but I will be mindful in my failure.
2015 will be a year of discipline. This coming year, I dedicate myself to being teachable and developing new patterns and habits in my life. We’ll see how this goes…