Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Self-disciplined or stubborn?

'Tis the season of resolutions, and I'll admit right now that I'm not good at self-discipline. It feels virtuous and focused, but it also feels like deprivation. We have the gym, work, the bus, groceries, dinner--and then deprivation?

No thank you. I'm more likely to say, "What the heck, it doesn't matter anyway." I'll take the cookie. I'll take the cocktail.

But if my goal is to, say, lose fifteen pounds--and I already know that I fail at self-discipline--stubborn might work well for me. Stubborn doesn't say, "Oh, I'd better not eat that." Stubborn says, "What--you think I can't do it? Wanna bet? Watch me."

Stubborn isn't about doing without, it's about winning. While that isn't a good motivation for all situations, I'm becoming convinced it has its place.

And it's working for me, so far--one-tenth of a pound at a time. I haven't yet figured out how being stubborn fits with writing goals--in part because I'm trying not to have writing goals, other than to write more and to exact more, to spend more time exploring a poem and see what limits I can push and how far.

I recently saw someone on Facebook say his goal was to write 250 poems this year. I thought, "Really? Five a week? When can you revise and polish? Is quantity the goal?" And he might say, "Watch me."
Photograph by Claire Kervran.


Kells said...

Wow, 5 poems a week! I'm interested in if he'll make it! Do let us know if you keep up on him!

As for resolutions, I can completely see how they can be seen as deprivation (something I've heard people say when I say I try to practice living simply--"oh you're in that self-deprivation movement"). ;-).

But I've learned to see it differently. I once heard someone who was overweight say that when he realized one more cookie or dessert wasn't actually a reward at all, and that by living excessively was actually depriving himself of health and happiness-- I had my own Ah-ha moment in realizing that my choices might be gaining me immediate satisfaction but depriving me of something greater in my life either long term or in regards to more meaningful project or existence.

Anyway, I think this is why I use the new year to "reevaluate" my life, to see what feels is missing or I could use more of and work towards that. Of course, I too have the extra cookie or cocktail more than not, but it happens! :-)

Good post, Joannie ! Happy 2011 to you!

Joannie said...

Kells, thanks for weighing in. Okay, I couldn't resist that one.

And that's the issue for me--not being able to resist. Even when I've had the Aha moment. I've reached the point where short-term trumps long-term almost every time (I know--so not grown up).

I applaud heartily people who can keep those long-term benefits in mind and act in accordance with them. Cheers to you!

And Happy New Year.

Tom said...

Stubborn is about winning... sounds like married life is rubbing off, of course you find the positive way to express things. You'll win!