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.

Quantity not quality

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.