A couple of weeks ago when I went to the Guerilla Marketing thing, the last slide presented had this quote on it in massive letters:
"Discipline or regret. Your choice."
I have to be honest, at first this really appealed to me. It can be applied to SO many things in life, not just business or marketing. In particular it appealed to me from a weight loss point of view - because if we used food and exercise discipline, we'd lose the weight and then not have any regrets about could have, should have, would have (been thinner, fitter, whatever). It also appealed to me from a parenting perspective - when we discipline effectively, or parent in a disciplined way (as opposed to not presenting a united front, changing the goal posts for our kids and so on), then we are less inclined to live with the regret of raising insane, out of control kids. Of course it also applies to the little things; in theory having the discipline to not eat the entire tub of ice cream in one sitting means you won't regret it later.
For a couple of days there I really liked that mantra. It was neat, simple, and it made perfect sense. After a while, though, it began to grate on me a little bit - and when I thought about WHY my sudden flash of "OMG this is IT!" morphed into "Seriously? What bullshit!" the answer was very obvious. It allows absolutely no room for a) being human, and b) having any fun.
This is not to say that one should not be disciplined in a number of areas in their lives, because I truly think that mental discipline (which often leads to physical discipline) is the only way to get anywhere in life. My work colleagues know that I often say (irritatingly!), "Messy desk, messy mind," because I really believe that to be true. We are blessed with remarkable minds which can do extraordinary things and you don't need to look very far to find examples. My triplet pregnancy which everyone told me would end in premature, sick babies born at 30 weeks or earlier ended with healthy, robust babies born at 35weeks. Why? Because I was mentally determined to make that happen, I had a very specific date which I had to carry those kids to, and I was totally mentally convinced it would be so. I think old people declare that they will live to see their grandchildren marry (and then do live that long) because they BELIEVE that they will....and lots of other examples of mind triumphing over matter. I'm not suggesting that mind over matter always works, I'm just suggesting that the possibility is there.
So clearly I'm all for the discipline part...and for obvious reasons, I'm not such a fan of the regret part. Generally speaking there are only a few things in life I regret, because, hell, they've already happened and I can't do anything about them. Most stuff, I tend to feel very strongly and emotionally about...and maybe let it drag for a while..but eventually, I'll let it go. Being pro-discipline and anti-regret means I should love that concept above...but I don't.
Because, tell me, what happens when you...
- Eat the tub of ice cream and enjoy every last bite?
- Choose to skip a gym session so you can have breakfast with an old friend?
- Don't follow the well thought out, planned business rules but instead follow your instinct?
- Take a risk? Take several of them in succession?
- Allow your conscience to be your guide, rather than your personal trainer or your business advisor?
- Put all your eggs in one basket rather than spreading the risk out over more than one area?
- Choose not to follow the advice the experts give you?
- Allow your emotions to rule every once in a while, even though you know it's probably a waste of time to wallow?
- Grant yourself a micro-mini vay-kay when your To Do list is a mile long?
- Ignore the parenting books?
I'll tell you what happens. You bugger some things up, you succeed spectacularly at other things, some things earn a decided "meh" and along the way you learn a heck of a lot. It's called being human, it's called having fun, it's called living a life which is about so much more than either discipline or regret. I've come to think that quote is a load of bullshit because it allows for no grey areas, not humanity, no just being who we are - which is people who every day just hope they're doing the best that they can, and sometimes the 'best' is mere survival.
Sure, life is all about discipline and regret...but it's all the things which come in between those two which make it worth living in the first place. To believe it's as black and white as that is just no fun at all - and to assume it has to be entirely one or the other, well...that's why all work and no play makes Michie a dull girl indeed.
Fuck it. I say eat the ice cream to the bottom of the tub, enjoy every last indulgent second of it, and get your ass into the gym in the morning.