With self-discipline, most anything is possible.” - Theodore Roosevelt
This blog post is a more detailed interpretation of why self discipline is important for success (read the overview HERE)
I’ve always lived with the belief my art could be better. Some of you might find that hard to believe but for me creating art is a lifelong pursuit, over time it will improve with practice, just like blogging, urban sketching or creating patterns (all of which were new to me at one point) These require the habits of drawing, painting, or writing and posting regularly which in turn require self-discipline if you want to become proficient.
I would like to remind readers that I only started this phase of my career 5/6 years ago. So I speak and share here from personal experience of building up a art business during that time. I am firm believer that self-discipline attracts opportunities, and if you use discipline to develop your skills and make a concerted effort towards your ambitions, there is no doubt that exciting opportunities will inevitably open up for you.
In its simplest form self-discipline is the ability to do what you need to do; even when you really DO NOT want to do it. To achieve artistic success you need to develop the discipline to KEEP following the direction of your goals and to step towards that desire every day even when you want binge watch You Tube or scroll through social media.
5 Tips for Developing Your Self-Discipline
In any business or creative endeavour you will need to develop habits and practices that you have to repeat over and over, in order to progress as an artist or designer. The more we can improve it, the better we become at sticking to our goals and in turn the more we will achieve.
1. Remember It takes time
First off this is very important point to remember. I was (and to some extent still am) disorganised and lacking in focus in any given week. Being patient with yourself when working on improving your observational drawing skills, to finding a style, to learning how to make a technical repeat pattern, is one of the most important ways to build self-discipline, especially while living in a world of 'now now now’ and we all want to be successful now. Change seems to be something that never happens as quickly as we would like; it takes time, courage, and patience in order to see the change you seek. It could be especially challenging as it could include some aspects of our personal lives, pushing us beyond our comfort zones…so no rush, take it each day and week at a time.
2. Self-discipline is a like a muscle
Self-discipline is something that can be taught, and just like a muscle, the more you use your self-discipline, the stronger it becomes. When you first start trying to build your self-discipline muscle, start with one small habit at a time. Trying to do too much at once will not only overwhelm you, it will lower your chances for success. Too much too soon isn't sustainable.
One of my goals of this past year was to complete my Morning Pages/ journalling (I’ll blog about this soon) I set my alarm to wake me up 10 minutes earlier each day - this made a world of a difference and wasn't too difficult to do. Its the same with losing weight or trying to get fit. I started by running for spurts of 3/4 minutes then built it up over several months to run 10k.
3. Know your distractions
To keep your eyes on the prize (building a portfolio, website, social media following ) requires determination and refusing to be distracted by things that are going on around you - focus on doing what you set out to do. Many of us have young families, laundry, cart kids to after school clubs etc. But many creatives accomplish their goals because they can identify and act on the things that get in their way. To start, identify what are the things that easily distract you. What makes you stop what you are doing such as scrolling through IG/ FB, checking for emails or binge watching Netflix…insert whatever here…you know what they are…am I right?
4. Create a daily routine
After you have cut down on your distractions from your working day, you will often see how much extra time you have. We all get 24 hours in a day, and we’ve always had this time, we just might not have used it intentionally before. Try to block off specific chunks of time to paint, sketch, create, read, learn, whatever will bring you closer to your goal. One other point I want to make is when you work at home, the work-life boundary often blurs (again I know this from personal experience) So you may have to be extra diligent in creating your personal work schedule, set goals and stick to them. It will help you in keeping the work-life balance along with self-discipline with your work.
5. Opportunities for self discipline
No matter what improvements you want to make in your creative life, you need to have the self-discipline to apply yourself consistently to the work that will be involved. There will be good days and bad days in your life, but its best not to follow in those and allow them to hold you back. Self-discipline is something which you can use in every area of your life with opportunities each day to practice, from taking 10 mins to sketch for fun, or a taking a walk to remove yourself from your iPad or desk.
Success in any area of life or business requires long, sustained periods of focused effort on a goal, and the determination to stay with it until it is complete. Self-discipline is on the surface is often seen as having to be harsh on yourself, being limited and restricted in your life but I’ve reframed it to mean self-control, which is a sign of inner strength. So you can control your actions and reactions even when you may feel most things which happen in this world are outside of your control. Seek out these opportunities to exercise that self discipline so it becomes a habit, and a useful skill.