I’ve had people comment from time to time that they don’t have the self-discipline to work from home or be self-employed.
Ironically, it’s not unusual for me to get this comment from people I consider more self-disciplined than I am1.
I think that it has a lot to do with one’s view of “should” v. “want to”. I like working from home and having the freedom that I do a whole lot. I might be a good writer, but to explain how much I like it would be difficult. I don’t know, necessarily, how much self-discipline it takes to do what you passionately want. In fact, I’d say it doesn’t take all that much discipline, really.
That’s something I think we often miss in our lives. We don’t separate out what we think we should be doing or should want from what we passionately want with all our hearts and souls.
Does this mean we should necessarily make our livings from our passions? No, not really. When you can, it’s really cool. I’m not gonna lie about that. Thing is, it looks a lot more virtuous than it is. When you wake up excited about doing something, and that something is your job, you look all focused and motivated and virtuous and disciplined. Friends, going into a toy store and grabbing everything in sight is about as far from disciplined as you can get!
I’m going to be taking a trip down to visit my family soon. I’m taking the train at least in part so I can work on the way down. I love being able to do that. It’s hard to describe the kick I get out of it. The kick I get out of sitting here in my writin’ chair listening to Dire Straits (playing Money for Nothing, ironically enough), and working on a project for a client feels so very good. I used to dream of being able to do exactly this when I was a kid. I’d read science fiction stories about people with hand computers (and remember these were written when computers were as big as a bedroom!) able to access datanets anywhere, write stuff, do work and go anywhere while they were doing it.
I wanted that so badly. It’s part of why I wanted to be a writer in the first place. When I was a kid, it was the only portable profession I knew about. Being a computer professional wasn’t yet all that portable — as I well knew when I watched my father leave the house as I got up to get ready for school. But I’d take my notebook into the woods behind my friend Mindy’s house, write, and fantasize about the day when I’d be making a living doing that.
When you want something that badly, when you dream about something so much that it stops being a dream but just an internalized part of you waking and sleeping, discipline isn’t the issue any more. It’s just… what you do.
1 I actually consider myself pretty undisciplined, really. I’m just pig-headed.