I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

There’s an odd pres­sure when you’re try­ing to exer­cise the mus­cle of dis­ci­pline, it’s tempt­ing to want every­thing you do as a part of that to be the best that it can be. Some­times you need to just push through and exer­cise that mus­cle. When you’re start­ing out, quan­ti­ty is often more impor­tant than qual­i­ty. You need to get used to doing some­thing reg­u­lar­ly before you can focus on doing it bet­ter, oth­er­wise the fear of not good enough can hold you back and pre­vent you from mak­ing the progress you want to make.

Habits of Grace


After my posts and think­ing about dis­ci­pline last week, on Sun­day I decid­ed to order Habits of Grace by David Math­is. It arrived yes­ter­day and the study guide that goes with it is set to arrive either tomor­row or Friday.
It’s a book that’s been on my radar for a while both for it’s sub­ject mat­ter, and if I’m being hon­est, it’s design. I’ve resist­ed buy­ing it in the past because I’m aware I already have a large pile of books to I’ve yet to read, but hav­ing spent some time in prayer, read­ing, and think­ing around this sub­ject I decid­ed it was time to get my fin­ger out and order it.
I’m look­ing for­ward to div­ing in over the next month, all to often it’s easy to start grind­ing things like dis­ci­pline in terms of hob­bies and pas­sions. As a Chris­t­ian ground­ing the desire for dis­ci­pline and self con­trol in God and my faith is of far greater impor­tance. Doing that is far eas­i­er to say than it is to do, and so I’m hop­ing that this book, along with build­ing momen­tum by writ­ing here on my blog will help that mus­cle of dis­ci­pline grow into more areas of my life.

In response to my post the oth­er day, John Philpin respond­ed with a quote from his Mum. I real­ly liked it so want­ed to share it here for more peo­ple to discover.

Mom: “Remem­ber … don’t for­get to write to me at least once a week – even bet­ter – every day.”
Me: “Every day! There wont be enough to say every day!”
Mom: “You will find that the more you write the more you will have to say, because then every­thing is impor­tant. If you only write once a month, there will be noth­ing impor­tant enough to write about.” 

Don’t forget to write

Thoughts On Just Turning Up

I’ve been think­ing a lit­tle more about the link I post­ed to Austin Kleon’s blog the oth­er day. I fin­ished it with the line

Instead there should just be turn­ing up to write down a thought and see­ing where it takes you.
It’s a sen­ti­ment that you hear quite reg­u­lar­ly around the Inter­net these days. Just keep turn­ing up every day and do the thing—whatever your thing is. 

The phrase turn­ing up is just a less intim­i­dat­ing way of say­ing be dis­ci­plined. Turn­ing up to write a blog post every­day is a dis­ci­pline, just as read­ing your bible every day is or get­ting up with­out press­ing the snooze button.
As I get old­er I’m under­stand­ing more and more that learn­ing to be dis­ci­plined is one of the most impor­tant things you can do. It can effect every area of your life and it’s easy to assume that dis­ci­pline is some­thing that you have or you don’t. That you’re either able to be dis­ci­plined or you’re not, but that’s not the case. Dis­ci­pline, I’m learn­ing, is some­thing you can devel­op. It’s like a mus­cle, the more you work it the stronger it gets.
The hard part, I believe, is not get­ting start­ed but main­tain­ing and devel­op­ing. Every­one can start some­thing, doing it for a cou­ple of days before they get dis­tract­ed or it begins to feel like work, and then stop­ping because it requires effort to con­tin­ue. But that’s where you need to begin exer­cis­ing that mus­cle of dis­ci­pline, when things feel too hard keep going regard­less, over time how hard it feels will dis­ap­pear and instead it will become some­thing you do each and every day.
So join me in learn­ing to be dis­ci­plined. Start­ing tomor­row morn­ing decide what time you’re going to get up, set your alarm and then get up when it goes off. No snooz­ing, no rolling over, just turn off that alarm and get up. Then do it the next day, and the next, until it becomes some­thing you just do.

Seth’s Blog: This Is Post 7,000 ›

Seth Godin made his 7,000th post to his blog yesterday.
7,000.
That’s one post a day for just over 19 years. That’s both inspir­ing and hum­bling at the same time. Inspir­ing because it makes turn­ing up to post on a blog every­day doable and some­thing that is entire­ly achiev­able. Hum­bling because I haven’t man­aged to com­plete a whole months worth of posts every­day for a long time, let alone a whole year.
There’s one thing that we can learn from any­one who is able to repeat­ed­ly turn up like Seth has been for the last 19 years. It’s a skill we can all learn. Post­ing to a blog every­day for 19 years isn’t only for peo­ple who have a large fol­low­ing, we’re all capa­ble of doing it, it just takes a bit of dis­ci­pline. So here’s to the next 19 years Seth, and every­one who blogs with any regularity.

The Dedication Olympics

As I sit writ­ing this the BBC are show­ing their roundup video of the Rio Olympics. Nor­mal­ly when it comes to the Olympics I’m pret­ty glued to it for the few weeks that it runs. This year, maybe due to the time dif­fer­ence, it took a week or so for me to get in to it.
It was only when the track cycling came on and Team GB start­ed to win medals that I start­ed to watch. The suc­cess of the British team on this field is mind-blow­ing, every four years the team hits form per­fect­ly and brings home gold medal after gold medal. Sim­i­lar­ly, the suc­cess of the Brown­lee broth­ers in the Triathlon, so con­sis­tent year after year result­ing this year in the first triath­lete to retain the gold medal. Then there’s Andy Mur­ray, only weeks after win­ning Wim­ble­don, retain­ing his gold medal. Not to men­tion the many oth­er ath­letes who’ve won medals for Team GB, help­ing us as a nation to fin­ish sec­ond in the medal table.
Most years by the end of the games I’m inspired. I want to try a new sport, or return to an old one I used to play. This year is a bit dif­fer­ent. I’ve not been inspired to go and do sport, but instead by the ded­i­ca­tion that unites these ath­letes. Each and every one of them has a lev­el of ded­i­ca­tion that blows me away. They are able to apply them­selves for every sin­gle day between olympic cycles. For four years they are able to focus their ener­gy on one thing so that they can give them­selves the best pos­si­ble shot to win that gold medal.
Dur­ing one of the events one of the com­men­ta­tors picked up on this. I don’t think it was what he meant, but the way it came across as he spoke of it was that these ath­letes seem to have a gift none of the rest of the world does. Not in terms of their sport­ing prowess, but in their abil­i­ty to apply them­selves and ded­i­cate them­selves to their cho­sen dis­ci­pline. It’s an easy mind­set to fall into, but it’s also a dan­ger­ous one.
Dis­ci­pline or ded­i­ca­tion is not a thing that we just have, it’s some­thing we can learn. Each and every­one of us can learn dis­ci­pline and self con­trol in order to focus on some­thing. In order to grow and devel­op into a great writer it takes ded­i­ca­tion and dis­ci­pline to turn up and write each day. For the artist it takes hours of paint­ing, the musi­cian hours of play­ing their instru­ment. Ded­i­ca­tion is some­thing we can grow in and get bet­ter at. The more we ded­i­cate our­selves to do some­thing, the more like­ly we are to do it. For the olympic ath­lete, turn­ing up to train­ing on a wet Mon­day morn­ing in Novem­ber makes them more like­ly to turn up for train­ing on a wet Novem­ber Tues­day, Wednes­day and Thurs­day. Like­wise, writ­ing a post for this blog on a Sun­day makes me more like­ly to want to write one for tomor­row. I don’t want to break the chain or waste the time I spent the day before.
As many peo­ple are want to say on the inter­net at the moment, the key to every­thing is show­ing up every­day. The key to win­ning a gold medal is show­ing up every­day with an unre­lent­ing ded­i­ca­tion to your sport. The key to grow­ing in ded­i­ca­tion to our cho­sen dis­ci­pline is the same.

Life After Cancer: How the iPhone Helped Me Achieve a Healthier Lifestyle ›

I’ve had this arti­cle from Fed­eri­co Vitic­ci in my Instapa­per queue for along time and final­ly got a chance to read it over the week­end. Despite it’s age I want­ed to share it just in case any­one else is like me and has had it saved to read for a long time.

First up, kudos to Fred­eri­co for mak­ing the changes to his life he has and not slip­ping back into old habits. Sec­ond, the idea of using my iPhone to track ele­ments of my life has always con­nect­ed with me (I like stats!). Sev­er­al times I’ve tried it with MyFit­ness­Pal and Sleep Cycle but they’ve nev­er stuck for some rea­son, but see­ing the moti­va­tion behind Frederico’s meth­ods has struck a chord with me. I’m not recov­er­ing from a severe phys­i­cal ill­ness but I am recov­er­ing from a men­tal one and there’s def­i­nite­ly a con­nec­tion between my men­tal well being and how I feel in my body. Pos­i­tive atti­tudes in one area of my life fil­ter through into oth­er areas and it’s with this in mind that I’ve decid­ed to have anoth­er go at putting that Health app to good use. My thanks to Fred­eri­co for high­light­ing some apps I’d nev­er come across that are much more pleas­ant to use than ones I’ve tried previously.
Here’s to anoth­er attempt at track­ing some stats about my life and to liv­ing more healthily.

Building

I’m great at mak­ing state­ments and promis­es about things that I want to do. It’s easy. I think of some­thing I wish to do, decide there and then a means by which to do it, then post to my blog declar­ing it in the pub­lic domain.

In prin­ci­ple it’s a good tac­tic. The pub­lic dec­la­ra­tion should be enough of a moti­va­tion to make sure I stick to some­thing, but the real­i­ty is that more often than not I fall short. I might stick to it for a cou­ple of weeks, but then life will hap­pen and that’s it, the idea slides out of exis­tence. Why? Because of a lack of discipline.
When it comes to dis­ci­pline I’ve gen­er­al­ly been quite good when it comes to doing some­thing that real­ly mat­ters, or some­thing that I have to do. The trou­ble was when it came to doing some­thing I want­ed to do, like writ­ing for this site. So as part of get­ting back into it, I’ve been tak­ing lit­tle steps, to build integri­ty, trust and discipline.

Integrity

Build­ing integri­ty with myself is crit­i­cal. The num­ber of times I’ve set out with an aim to do some­thing, then not suc­ceed­ed to do it are count­less, and this car­ries over into start­ing new things. Whilst the inten­tion and desire can be strong, the belief that I can do it less so. It’s been errod­ed by years of unful­filled promis­es to myself about start­ing to write on a reg­u­lar basis.
The trick, I’ve dis­cov­ered is to start small. It’s not a new tech­nique, but I tes­ti­fy that it’s start­ing to work. I start­ed with The Week in Links, my week­ly post shar­ing a few links to good arti­cles or inter­est­ing things that I’ve seen around the inter­net over the week. As of the time of writ­ing, I’ve now post­ed an edi­tion of that post for nine­teen weeks run­ning. I’ve built integri­ty with myself that I can post to this site on a reg­u­lar basis, on a sched­ule I decid­ed and want­ed to com­mit to.

Trust

Now I have built some integri­ty and belief that I can do some­thing I want to do and not just some­thing I have to do. I’m build­ing trust in myself that I can actu­al­ly do it. I trust that I can man­age the rest of my day well enough, to be able to set aside time to write.

Discipline

The trust in myself that I can do this, builds the dis­ci­pline that I need to actu­al­ly do it. Hav­ing estab­lished a pat­tern of turn­ing up each week to post The Week in Links, I’m now dis­ci­plined enough to carve out that time each week to make sure I keep doing it.
It’s a knock on effect, or maybe more of a cir­cu­lar cycle. The more belief that I have in stick­ing by my stat­ed inten­tions, builds the trust I need to be able to make those inten­tions in the first place. In turn, that builds the dis­ci­pline I need to exe­cute those inten­tions, thus giv­ing myself more belief. It’s why this week I’ve added anoth­er step into my morn­ing rou­tine so that I can be sat here at my desk and do a half hour of writ­ing before my work day begins. Not only am I build­ing trust that I can work on writ­ing for my site with reg­u­lar­i­ty, I’m also build­ing trust that I can get up and go through my morn­ing rou­tine with the time to do all that I both want and need to do.
Of course there is anoth­er side to this. If I do miss one of my carved out writ­ing slots, I must not give myself a hard time about it. Life hap­pens and I won’t always get to do these things. When that’s the case I need to be able to say nev­er­mind, reset and go again the next day remem­ber­ing that for the past how­ev­er many days I’ve been able to do it.

Routines Are Not the Enemy ›

This is a very well timed arti­cle. Since going self employed I’ve come to realise how impor­tant my rou­tine involv­ing an hour long com­mute was in prepar­ing myself for a days work. This arti­cle has some handy tips at spot­ting rou­tines and estab­lish­ing new ones.