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Playful Self-Discipline: A Year Later

The end of 2011 is upon us, and in two days we’ll have a new calendar year, slowly lengthening days and a chance to make a host of brand new resolutions. That means it’s time to take stock of my Playful Self-Discipline project too. Did I achieve what I set out to do? What did I learn along the way? Where do I need to keep working at things?

mod podge canning jar lanterns

Discipline and Habit

The biggest thing I learned by working on Playful Self-Discipline in 2011 was that self-discipline is mostly about creating new habits. Self-control and self-discipline is something that happens because it’s just part of what you do, and that habit is built up slowly over time through small, gradual changes. The most successful changes I made were the small, tangible, “do-able” ones. Making my bed every morning. Flossing my teeth every night. Clearing the kitchen counters every day. These were relatively small, achievable things that boosted my sense of self-control and self-discipline. And when I did them, I felt better about things in general.

The other thing that really made a difference was simply being more mindful and aware of the present moment.  As the Watchdog said to Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth, “You weren’t paying attention, and now you’re in the Doldrums.”  Paying attention and choosing to redirect my thoughts along a more positive line makes a huge difference.

beeswax tealights

Needs, Emotions and Stability

The hardest area of self-discipline to get a handle on was my emotions. They are slippery things with a mind of their own, and despite my best efforts they still get the better of me. I suspect I’m not alone in this, but I know this is the area in which I have the most work to do yet.

Working on emotions, for me, often looks like working on other things. Getting enough exercise, eating well, talking about things that are bothering me, working on projects, cleaning my house, visiting friends. If my pyramid of needs is being met from the bottom up, my emotions are easier to ride out. If I let my self-care slip, the wild emotions come out again.

baking christmas cookies

Playful Self-Discipline and the Blog

It was a good practice to have a weekly deadline and a structure for my Playful Self-Discipline posts, even though my regular posting schedule slipped in the last two months. As with going on a long trip, it was good to be away from the regular routines and it feels good to come back again. I am looking forward to writing in a regular fashion once again in the new year, although I think I’ll take a break from writing specifically about Playful Self-Discipline and turn to other topics instead.

All of 2011’s Playful Self-Discipline posts have been collected on the Playful Self-Discipline page in the Navigation bar below the header, so they’re all in one place and easy to find.

For those of you who had been following along and thinking about Playful Self-Discipline with me in 2011, what did you learn along the way? I’d love to hear about your experience!

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