Discipline and FWPs

I just got back home from a friend’s birthday party, where someone told my girlfriend to try a cupcake. Her answer didn’t surprise me: “No thank you, I don’t eat after a certain time.” Someone said “oh wow, you are really militant, huh?” I chimed in “Oh yes, she really is – she goes to the gym every day!” I’m really proud of her for that and maybe a little jealous because I’m not doing it. Ever since my basketball career ended I have trouble motivating myself to follow a workout routine consistently, even though there’s a gym and a pool in the building I live in. I had no problem being motivated enough to build a whole new life after having to start from zero but going to the gym? For some reason I just don’t do it. I go once or twice, get reminded how great it feels and how important it is for my body and then I stop again. All this came up in the same conversation, right after bragging about how consistent my girlfriend is with her diet and workouts. I said to my friend “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I was always so disciplined as a basketball player…” Her quick response stuck with me: “yes, because somebody made you.” So is the self-discipline that I always thought I had (and that I attributed some of my successes in life to) a myth? Am I just good at following instructions like a good worker bee, who is striving to fulfill her role as satisfyingly as possible in a certain system? Or maybe chasing the dream of doing bigger and better things on the basketball court made me want to be disciplined. There is no dream now or a goal like finishing graduate school and getting a job; there’s no system to fit into. That also means that I accomplished a lot: I set out to start a new life after basketball, got my masters degree in 3 semesters with the desired 4.0 and a full time job right away. So whatever “problems” I am describing here are obviously supreme FWPs (first world problems for those of you who don’t have them). The fact is that I feel some sort of void ever since I accomplished the building-a-new-life thing. Being a traffic engineer in New York City is certainly not the worst thing in the world but it’s not my heart’s desire (again – big fat FWP). At this moment I don’t know what my heart’s desire is and as long as I don’t know that I can’t work towards fulfilling it. There’s no real need for discipline. I have everything anyone could ask for: a job with a decent entry level paycheck, a Hudson view every morning and every night, health, and a wonderfully happy relationship. I also have plenty of the aforementioned FWPs. There’s just one thing that I’m missing: a dream. And that’s exactly what’s keeping me up at night and away from the gym.

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10 Responses to Discipline and FWPs

  1. Discipline when is not an obligation, needs targets and motives! So, people like your girlfriend have the ability, beyond setting goals which everybody can easily do, to create motives(!) in order to have the courage to fight their way to them.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Marios 🙂 I’m not sure I understand the difference between goals and motives and what distinguishes people who have the ability to create motives from people who don’t have that ability.

      • Marios says:

        motive and motivation is what can make you enthusiastic about achieving the goal you set and work on that without “pain”… 🙂

  2. Robert says:

    What is your dream? Besides Basketball, I mean. What did you dream of when you were a young girl? Don’t say Princess 🙂
    Sometimes looking into things we enjoy can provide direction. So you may not be able to play basketball, but would you enjoy coaching? Or did you enjoy the thrill of the crowds.
    Good luck Katja. I really hope you find what inspires you.

  3. Cesar says:

    Hey Katya,

    Hope you are having a great holiday break!
    I was looking for discipline articles and came across your blog, and its good (I guess not really good, lol) to hear that there are other people that think the same way..I also was wondering if there were any others that felt that way in terms of discipline. And how having someone or something hold you accountable to a strict plan-whether its working out, learning, or advancing yourself in whatever area is a good or a bad thing..Its tough, I am in the same boat..I was wondering if that “discipline” was on account of me having someone to watch over me, or if it no longer applied..I’m still debating whether its a good or bad thing..I think right now, since you’e accomplished everything you’ve wanted (so far) you are feeling a bit underwhelmed, but i’m sure that that will go away..You may just need some new challenges..

    And if you have a chance, I’d like to know more about the website software you are using (Is it a wordpress theme?)

    Anyways, hope you are doing well!

    • Hi Cesar, Here I am two years later, responding to your comment. So much for discipline when it comes to communication… Thank you so much for your message!

      • Cesar says:

        Hey Katja, now it’s my turn to reply 2 years later! And correct me if i’m wrong, but I think I saw you on that show My Giant Life, no? That’s great! I hope you and your wife have an amazing year! Hope the discipline is going well for you–It’s gotten a heck of a lot better for me..and curious–what made you decide to write a blog?

      • Hi Cesar,

        Yes, we were on that show. It’s a fun experience. Discipline is much better, thank you 🙂

        Good question about why I started the blog. I think the main reason is that I like writing, it relaxes me and helps me clarify my thoughts. I’m not a big talker but I like sharing my thoughts in writing 🙂

      • Cesar says:

        This time i’m going to reply in a timely manner!
        Thats great, i’m glad you got to do the show, you two looked great!

        Yeah, discipline is one of those things that I always try to improve, and is always such a challenge–especially for exercising!

        Thats cool that writing relaxes and clarifies your thoughts. I am writing down what I want to blog about, because I’m all over the place..I’ll share the link once I get it going in about 2 weeks (gotta work on my website and design projects first 🙂

  4. steve says:

    A friend who is about your height sent me this link .. (do all tall women know each other? 🙂

    You have many things going for you. I remember being in a similar situation and, while I can’t claim to have sorted it out and found what I’m looking for, I’ve made some good progress.

    About the time I entered grad school I found myself dedicating all my focus to one aim and it left me wondering what I was doing. I pushed and kept with it, but I also started to tithe my time. At first it was about a half day a week to causes like soup kitchens and the like. To be truthful that was mind-numbingly boring and frustrating. The next step was to donate time to help my friends with their projects – crazy projects were fantastic (it helps to have some dreamer/crazy friends!). It was enough fun that I started to “tithe” my waking hours – about 11 hours a week to my friends and their projects. If there isn’t anything going on, if I can’t be helpful, I read for pleasure. I don’t watch much TV, manage to have an interesting career and marriage, but there is also this amazing spark which has led me in a variety of directions… I’m just a physicist, but I’ve been the digital art editor of a fashion magazine, taken a photo from 88,000 feet, work with an animation company you undoubtedly know, helped out with beach volleyball, worked with ideas for made to measure clothing that people can afford (this is with a tall friend who has serious problems finding interesting clothing that fits), and even worried about cycling traffic in Denmark vs the US … all of these projects of friends. It has richened my life to the point where I tell people my goal in life is to be poorly read – after all, these other things are far too much fun.

    An approach like this may or may not work for you. About a third of the projects I help with aren’t terribly interesting, a third or so-so – but it is fun working with the people and the last third just rock.

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