I have a discipline problem.
Motivation is doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done when we want to do it.
Discipline is doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done when we don’t want to do it.
More specifically I didn’t practice Spanish.
The motivation to do it was there. I was excited about learning a new language. I made the affirmation but then I didn’t do it. My interest waned, I found other ways to spend my time. There is no excuse, I simply didn’t prioritize it over facilitating ALC Everett, doing side jobs, working on art projects, playing ukulele, reading books, playing video games, sleeping, etc.
I try not to beat myself up over these things. Much, if not all, of that list is important. I do have the discipline to keep up with those projects. I just didn’t make the time for Spanish in my life.
This waining of interest happens all the time around me. It’s clear, especially when you have data to back it up. Check out this graph of codecademy.com lessons completed by me and some students from the Everett school:
See a pattern? On the left is our start, when we set the intention to do classes, everyone was excited and we wanted to jam on this. We dedicated ourselves to completing lessons. As we move on the lessons get a bit more challenging and we find other ways to spend out time. We find distractions.
Even as I write this Facebook is dinging at me and other ideas are popping into my head, ideas the pull me away from blogging.
Then there are three peeks on the slope. The first at week 5 was when we got started on ixa.net, the school’s first web project. Then again at week 9 and finally week 12.
All three of these times reignited the motivation to learn more about code because we were using code in some way.
Here’s another graph to illustrate my point:
This line represents the number of Google search queries for the word “exercise”. I bet you can guess the the pattern:
New Years resolution! People make an intention (based on the rolling over of the Gregorian calendar) to exercise, they go to google, do the research, get all motivated, then…
So how do we find discipline and sustain our intentions?
Maybe we just need a more reasonable pace. Could it be that we are burning our selves out with the initial rush of excitement for a project?
Perhaps it’s lack of structure. There wasn’t a support behind the intention – no plan – we had the motivation but didn’t construct the discipline.
Reflecting on our goals and intentions more often might be a key to building that structure.
Part of the support probably comes from having people remind you of your commitment.
In the Agile Learning Center I think coaches can fill this role. Hold the record of intentions and remind the student of those intentions.
For other members of the community we have to support each other. That’s one of the reasons I posted my goals publicly, I wanted people to know so I knew that they knew and that I ran the risk of looking like a chowder head if I didn’t follow through.
What do you do to build discipline?
How can a school help promote that?