Sustained Discipline

Made to Crave

I’m listening to the book Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst. The book is fantastic. The narration is TERRIBLE. Take it from me and the audible reviews, DO NOT buy the audible version. Just read the thing.

(I’m not sure how to even describe listening to this book. It’s not like a “kindergarten teacher is reading this book” as one reviewer stated.. I have friends that teach kinder and I’m not going to insult them like that!! But it is grating, condescending and all things bad. Just buy the actual book or get the digital copy.)

Ok, rant over. Get the book.

Why? Because the content is relevant to just about all of us. Now if you are making strong healthy choices everyday and have overcome all your issues, you can skip this book. But the rest of us need her down to earth, right smack in the middle of problems take on life.

I’m writing this post with 16 minutes of the book left. I’m that compelled to put my thoughts on “paper.” Lysa just talked about the concept of Sustained Discipline and this was a true light bulb moment for me.

So I wanted to share and document my thoughts.

Over the last few years I have gained back a lot of the weight that I lost in 2012. Some of the weight is in the form of muscle, but most of it is fat and poor choices. At first it was just a pound here and five pounds there. But the sum total is that instead of having “just a few” pounds to lose, I now need to lose about 25 pounds to get back to my goal weight. I don’t really expect to get back to that place and to be honest, I don’t really need to be that lean. That’s not my body shape. My body is naturally curvy and to get that lean requires a diligence and a fight that isn’t good for me. I do need to lose some body fat. I want my clothes to fit right. I’m tired of the waistband of my pants rolling down when I bend over. I’m tired of having to readjust my bra all of the time because of spillage! I’m tired of struggling into clothes that “should” fit.

But I’m not going to obsess over the scale. For one thing, my scale is inconsistent. One day it will say about what I think it should say. The next day it’s eight pounds heavier. Then the day after that, it says that I lost ten pounds. My emotions around my weight are roller coaster enough, I don’t need the scale to add to that!

What I am going to do is focus on SUSTAINED DISCIPLINE. This is an area that I am great and terrible at! Over the years I have learned that I am a rock star at being disciplined when it comes to working out. I was disciplined as a child/teen with practicing piano and preparing for rehearsals or contests. You could always count on me to log the hours and do the work. In fact, I won the trophy for logging practice minutes for piano every year for YEARS! And yes, that was a real trophy…

But I’m terrible at sustained discipline when it comes to food and personal growth habits. I’ve always said I’m a great starter, not a great finisher as if that was license to give up. I’d eat great for 3 days, but day 4 would be a bust. I’d do three weeks of a bible study and then just stop. I’d get out of the routine before a routine stuck and then move on.

So instead of focusing on the goal, the end result, the pants that I want to wear without it cutting off my love handles, I’m going to focus on areas that need my sustained discipline. While I have lots of growth areas, I’m going to focus on only two for the next three months.

  1. Drink my fruit/vegetable smoothie for breakfast and have a salad for lunch 5 days a week.
  2. Spend a minimum of ten minutes 5 days a week doing a bible study.

By giving myself two days of grace each week, I am hoping that instead of being down on myself for “slipping up,” I can motivate myself saying that’s one of the off days.

And will I lose weight simply by doing these two things? Not necessarily, but its a fantastic start!

James Clear in his book Atomic Habits talks about stacking habits by adding one new small habit to a habit that is already routine. Since I already have the workout habit down, I’m going to look at the morning schedule and see how to change the structure of my morning a little.

Each Day a Gift

If I can add even a five minute devotional time prior to workout, then that would be a smart place to start. Granted, my eyes struggle to focus at 4:40am on anything other than Emoji Blitz, but I’m hoping to start reading and working through Each Day A Gift before heading to the gym.

I’m a work in progress, we all are. I think it is so important for us to acknowledge that about ourselves. One thing I am really proud of is that I’ve started making the bed every morning. I know its a little thing that doesn’t seem to have any real significance, but it does! It makes me feel like the day is in order and that I can accomplish things.

And finally, I’m reading Beauty Begins by Chris Shook and Megan Shook Alpha. Making peace with my reflection is hard. It has always been hard and I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon. But I am doing my best to not pass on the burden of unattainable and unhealthy body image issues to my daughters. I want them to be healthy and at their physical best, whatever that is and however that looks.

Beauty Begins

I want that for myself.

Consistency, Improvement and Achievement

As a teacher, much of what I do is hidden in a classroom and is never seen by the public. For the most part, that isn’t a bad thing! Students need to be able to try and fail and learn without fear of the world judging their progress. But sometimes, it’s nice for the world to see our progress and celebrate our achievements.

One of the really big and visible projects that my students and I spend thousands of hours on each year is the UIL Theatrical Design Contest. Unlike most of the work that my students and I do on a daily basis, the theatrical design contest garners interest from parents, teachers, the community and administrators alike as it’s a pretty cool contest and has some nice hardware in the form of awards. 🙂

2019 SHS UIL Theatrical Design Team

Over the last 8 years, I’ve had the privilege of working with the team as co-coach. The other coach, Mindy, and I are pretty awesome partners. We balance each others strengths incredibly well and are able to keep each other motivated and moving forward when the other gets downtrodden. Thankfully, we haven’t yet been ready to give up on the same day!

As more and more school districts across Texas learn about the contest and hear about the awards and points the school can earn in UIL, the competition gets tougher. As a veteran team with lots of awards, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to keep winning. And this isn’t easy! Especially when schools look to our team as the team to beat and learn from us on what to use and how to win! Eek.

SHS UIL Theatrical Design Group Entry, State Runner Up

But this post isn’t about the competition! This post is about the process, the system that we have created and what I have learned about coaching winners over the years. When I read (actually listened via audible) the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, all of the things that we do on a daily basis as coaches really solidified.

James Clear’s mindset is that true success and progress is created with incremental change. Working for 1% growth or improvement everyday. Clear also talks about how this 1% mindset pushes you to continually improve and refine the process. You aren’t swinging for the fences everyday. Your aren’t trying to hit a home run every time you come up to bat. You are just focusing on getting to first base every single time you come to the plate.

The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.

 James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

In 2013 when we won our first medal in Theatrical Design, Mindy and I looked at each other and said, okay… we can do this! SHS students had made it to the state meet prior to this year, but we had never been able to break into the medals. With this win, we reevaluated what we had done before and what we needed to do the next year to do better. And we did. We had two winners the next year. The next year we had 6 medalist with 2 being state champions.

And we have continued to have this level of success because we have created a solid system and continually refine what we do. After this last week, all I really wanted to do Monday was chill. But my students were already processing and thinking about next year. I talked with all of my classes and told them of the success of the last week and we celebrated our students medals. I invited students to be a part of the team and welcomed new interest.

We don’t even have the prompt for next year, but I have almost a dozen students already sketching, brainstorming and working on techniques that can help them achieve their goals for something that is truly 365 days away!

Why are they interested? Well, success breeds success, we know that. But I think some of it is that we are teaching skills that are applicable to so much more than one contest. Learning photoshop or how to draw in perspective are transferable skills that allow students to consider their world in much broader terms than previously imagined. While a student may use photoshop to create their poster for marketing, that student has also learned about graphic design and has useful job skills! While a student learns how to draw a set design in perspective, those same skills are the base skills for architecture and industrial design.

Never Miss Twice

https://jamesclear.com/good-habits

Finally, James Clear talks about simple things you can do to build better habits and one of his tenets is to NEVER MISS TWICE. I love this mindset. In the world of art and theatre where so much of what we do is subjective and difficult to judge, I’ve taken the NEVER MISS TWICE mindset to heart. I use this in my classroom with students about deadlines. I use this for my personal accountability. I use this in all aspects of life. And we use this coaching this contest.

Yesterday, I asked students to reflect on what they learned during this last year of work and what they would tell students as they began their journey for the upcoming year. Much of what they said embodies the mindset of NEVER MISS TWICE. Like, time management and research, owning design decisions and following through with these decisions.. and so much more. I’m sure that it is odd to many that I would claim the concept of NEVER MISS TWICE in the art world. But really, so many times one off day leads to a week of wasted efforts. One decision made in haste requires a truckload of more work. It is so easy to compound the problem because you aren’t willing to address the problem head on and instead of dealing with it once, you deal with it twice or three times or more!

And there you have it. My thoughts and reflections from this past week in terms of achievement and growth. If you haven’t read the book Atomic Habits, you should.