Creating A Regular Ritual

If these are so great why do we struggle?

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Discipline. When I hear that word, it fills my head with a certain expectation. An expectation of something that should be done yet I seem to justify into the opposite. When it comes to the discipline of eating healthy, many of us, myself included, fall short. In disciplining ourselves to grow spiritually (either at church, the yoga studio or through meditation and self-appraisal), I seem to let myself down quite often.

Of course, being a professional freelance writer has its disciplinary challenges right next to everything else important in my life. I read all these articles on the importance of a daily writing habit or that I should be focused enough in my career choices to be full of fire for writing and that I WANT to do so…as often as possible. It seems that everyone else has this daily routine thing down to a science. My pastor boasts of getting up every morning at 4:30 am. He spends two hours with God and then moves on with his day. Wow, I say. One of my most trusted mentors has been known to tell everyone that he gets up at exactly 4:05 am every morning without an alarm clock to write. He writes a few hundred words a day before he even has his first cup of coffee. Others have told me of their daily meditation practice that happens at sunrise each day. If this was practice was neglected then their day is a mess. It’s as if his spirit didn’t get its medicine.

Everyone that is successful seems to have a routine that helps form them into the person they want to be!

For me, a daily ritual is an integral part of my day. Unfortunately, it’s the long-term discipline that I have trouble with. When I do get it right, I get up in the morning and sit at my favorite spot; usually the dining room table. This spot is coincidentally the closest spot in the house to the coffee machine. I have 10 minutes of silent meditation where I focus on my breathing and quieting my busy mind. There are a couple of daily devotionals that are a big part of my life that help keep me spiritually centered. I try to sing every day by myself in my car, of course. Singing gives me a sense of calm and freedom. Just being grateful to God for another day of opportunities and growth. This life is short, and I am not guaranteed tomorrow. Another ritual that is important to me is going to the gym. It helps relieve stress in my life and gives my body the strength I need to make it through my amazingly busy and great life.

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These things all sound so amazing, helpful and can only add good to my life. But here’s the deal. There’s this little voice in my head that tells me that I should sleep in today or to take a rest and that I don’t need to do these things on a regular basis. That voice is lazy and jealous and wants me to itself. It wants me fat, boring and stupid. It tells me that doing all these things is a waste of time. Doing these things on a regular basis gives me so much joy, strength and peace, it would be ridiculous NOT to do them. Why do we have this fight with ourselves? Surely, I cannot be the only person out there that has this battle with themselves. I find, however, as far as I can tell, there are no “tricks” on how to create this habit as a part of my life. There is only doing and not quitting! I have to ignore the voices that tell me to quit or that I am not worth creating this lifestyle. Writing, seeking God, calming my spirit, staying fit, eating the right things, all make me a better person mentally, physically and spiritually. There is really NO reason not to do these things, but I still find reasons for the contrary.

That voice is lazy and jealous and wants me to itself.

I recently heard a comic I was watching that said, “Successful people are not glass-half-full type of people, they are glass half-empty people. A successful person would walk in the room and ask why this glass isn’t full!” I love that. If I am going to be a successful writer, employee, partner, person or Christian, I must think that there is always room for improvement and never give up on my ultimate goals.

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The reason I became a successful chef is that I focused a huge majority of my energy on becoming just that. Even during some tough times where I thought the restaurant business wasn’t for me, I clocked in, suited up, honed my knives and got to work. Most days were agonizingly long, with little-to-no break time. There were many days where my back and feet hurt so badly that I couldn’t possibly go on another minute. I was chafed to the point that walking around was the most painful thing I could do. Yet still, the will to succeed and to acquire my dream pushed me, no matter what. I can count on one hand the number of times I called in sick for work or walked out at the end of the day before the job was done. It all paid off, through God’s grace.

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I know this exercise works, so why can I not practice this in all my life goals? Why is it this little voice that tells me to give up has never talked me into quitting my jobs or walking out, never to be seen again? I have to treat everything in my life as precious as succeeding as a chef is. If I am going to become a better writer, I have to write every day. If I am going to become a spiritually fit Christian, I have to pray and meditate every day. The list could go on forever, but these things still become an issue. Am I lazy? Hardly. Am I afraid to fail at these things? Perhaps. Am I just putting the wrong things in front of my priorities? Absolutely.

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My point of all this is that for me to create a discipline, I have to create the habit. It takes something like 21 days to create a habit. If I can get to that point, writing this type of article may not be necessary in the future.

If you have read this article this far, I would welcome some issues with discipline you may have. How have you gotten past them and do you still struggle with the ones that are most important to you? I would love to hear about it. Dialog is always a nice way to share our struggles even if they are good ones.