Self Discipline for Entrepreneurs : A Game
I don’t have any kids but I do practice mothering.
Self Discipline Made Simple
This is something I made up in college, when I was going through a phase where I straight up sucked at self-discipline. I'll set the scene: It was a gorgeous Eugene, Oregon summer. Perfect 75 degree weather and my Branding Identity and Web Design classes came so easily to me, that homework wasn't taking much time. My part time job gave me enough hours during the school year, but summer was their slow season as well so I had extra time on my hands. Floating the river every week and hiking Spencer’s Butte was at the top of my priority list, as well as other, typical college age activities... I will leave it at that! It was great, until I noticed I was a little (more than a little) all over the place.
Hear me now: I strongly believe in taking time off and the importance of chilling out, but at this point in my life I was young, full of energy, and all my extra time was being gobbled up by typical University of Oregon college kid activities... Yes, it is good to have fun, but moderation was not in my vocabulary and Type A personalities (like muah) do not do as well without solid structure. It was starting to take a toll.
Despite that, I sincerely did not want to change things up on all levels. I was having fun. and fun is good for an artists soul. and I deserved it. and blah blah. Sure, some of the excuses I made up may have been a little bit valid. But when you’re making excuses to yourself it’s legit hard not to notice when it’s BS... A little piece inside of me knew that all the fun I was having was not serving the future me. As a Digital Art major I knew what things I could do to improve myself and my skills. There were books I could be reading, tutorials to practice, contests to enter, and the list was never ending! But I just wasn’t ready to sacrifice the fun.
So, I started this game.
And by the way, we’re using the term “game” pretty loosely…
So here is a simple practice that helped get my brain on track: I call it Mothering.
Why to practice Mothering
Rewind a little before your early 20s, back when you were a normal teenager and most likely taking this for granted. If you were like me, you may have had a consistent friendly push from your mom or dad to get good grades, practice a sport, be a kind person… ETC. Once we leave home we no longer have mom there over our shoulder telling us no. “No, you’ve had enough sugar for today. No, you can’t go out before you’ve finished your homework. No turn Netflix off, it’s way past your bedtime!”
How great would it be to have mom watching my sugar intake again.
If you feel the same way, start Mothering yourself. Here’s how!
How to play
Every morning when you wake up the game starts over fresh. You have a minimum dose of Mothering yourself 5 times a day. But you can start with 3 if you’re really struggling with even wanting more self-discipline ;) This game is straight magic if you’re self-employed. Which is where most of my mothering happens now. It’s also a great game if you’re wanting to lose weight, if you have a habit of talking when you should be listening, if you need help putting things away immediately after making a mess instead of leaving stuff all over. Or if like me, you just feel like your life would be better if you worked on being more disciplined with yourself.
The science behind self-discipline and the brain is what made me make this up. Research shows that self-discipline is like a muscle. You have to work out in order for it to get swol and work well for you. The less we use it, the harder it is to utilize it when it really counts. So, start with small things and Mother yourself.
Beyond the science, what this game really comes down to is a practice of mindfulness. It’s obvious to any grown person that having the whole sleeve of cookies isn’t the best choice for you in the long-run, but stepping outside of the instant gratification that humans seek and acting for the long term is a habit that deserves some attention.
If you give this a try, go to my Instagram @designbykm and let me know what you said no to, and if it was easy or hard!
Side note: Mom, if you’re reading this, I don’t remember you as a nag at all. You were really fun and understanding and always let me be my natural, carefree, goofy self, while gently nudging me to be my best self. Luhh yewww.