Today is the fifth day of my new “get locked out of the internet until 9:30” plan. Sebastian Marshall, a writer I admire greatly, says that the single biggest problem most people have is with impulse control. And, I realized, that was true. Most of my frustrations are directly tied to me choosing to do the thing I know I shouldn’t do.
So Sebastian spends the first two hours of his day writing and planning and systematizing, without fail.
Hmm. I could do that. I already do morning pages– I wonder what will change if I have 60 minutes to devote to systematizing? Good things, probably. Let’s test.
But, I knew I couldn’t rely on my brain to help me with this. Between my sleepiness and my existing habits, there’s no way I would succeed. So, I need to lock myself out.
Pro-tip: If you want to lock yourself out of the internet, the best programs are Self-Control for Mac and Cold Turkey for PC. Cold Turkey is hardcore, though. If you need a little more flexibility use StayFocusd for Chrome or Leechblock for Firefox. Yes, I researched this exhaustively. Dude, it’s like you don’t even know me!
At any rate, I’m actually quite excited to see how this experiment turns out, which I realize sounds weird. I recently presented my 6-Month Plan to my Mastermind group, and they were alarmed to hear how much of my plan revolved around “discipline.” But the truth is, discipline has a kind of contentment to it. It might not be “fun”, the way indulging yourself is, but although you don’t get as much unadulterated pleasure from it, you get more done, and that’s really, REALLY satisfying.
I Can’t Get No Sat-is-fac-tion
The only problem “discipline leads to contentment” is that you have to be DOING things that are satisfying.
If you’re just being a good little worker drone, that isn’t going to be enough to carry you– the rewards of being a worker drone aren’t motivating enough to reinforce the discipline.
You might manage it if the rewards are “less stress.” In the oilpatch, when I was working those 12-16 hour days, I was super disciplined about doing a load of laundry each day (you have no idea how much laundry I created) and making my lunch for the next day the second I got home, repacking my go-bag and all that stuff. That’s because I knew that I would sleep better in my precious few hours of sleep if I only had to roll out of bed and get dressed. So that was very motivating to me.
Likewise, with the work for my sideline that exploded that I still have to do until I expand the work to subcontractors; it’s not really up there on the “rewarding tasks” column. If it comes to that, it’s way more rewarding to liaison with the clients and understand their needs. However, I can take pride in doing that work to the best of my ability while hustling my ass off to replace it. When every month, due to my discipline, I have less of that sideline work to do, THAT’s very rewarding.
Intentions Are Not Enough: Set Yourself Up to Succeed
But what’s interesting (and what every person has to realize for themselves, I think) is that most of the issues that we struggle with are as a result of not taking a stand with them. And by that, I mean, we need to make them non-negotiable. With a few notable exceptions, the people who bought YN6MF got bogged down in their planning at some point. Either they never finished the plan to begin with, or they skipped one of the review sessions. Either way, they were off the wagon, and THEN what happened is that people “made plans” to get back on the wagon… and then found that they never “had time” to do it.
And I’m not knocking those people. I can definitely relate. I worked on my 6 Month plan from the beginning of October until Dec 1. At that point, I was having a lot of trouble trying to get the big picture perspective to fit into the time I had available. I had three businesses, all of which were being really demanding of my time. Finally, even though I knew I had other deadlines to meet that week, I volunteered to be in the Spotlight in one of my Mastermind Group meetings, because I knew that that would force me to have my plan ready to present. I should have done that 6 weeks earlier, and I will, in the future. I made a note to myself in Remember the Milk.
Why Non-Negotiable Habits Are Key
Tons of people have told me that making working out a non-negotiable was finally what worked for them. Lots of people find it easier to cut out caffeine and soda altogether than they do to find a happy medium.
There’s a great Louis CK clip where he goes to the doctor with a pain in his ankle. The doctor takes a look at it and gives him some exercises to do. Louis asks “How long do I have to do them for, doc?” and the doctor says, “No, that’s just what you do now.” To keep your knee working like it should, that’s just what you do now.
And so many of the things that I had to adopt as my “This is just what you do now” regimes have been hugely beneficial to me, so much so that I don’t even remember what it was like to be without them.
- After my brain injury, I had to keep checklists.
- When I got in the oilpatch, I learned the discipline of preparation, maintaining my equipment, and that I have to eat and drink every three hours, even (especially) when I’m working.
- When I started running multiple businesses in earnest back in 2008, I learned to “manage”– that “be one with the yo-yo” thinking that makes sure that someone is keeping track of the higher-level stuff while making sure that all the day-to-day stuff gets done to.
“This is just what you do now” is so powerful. Sure, at first it feels like someone is giving you orders, but the upside is inarguable, and after a while you stop grumbling about the fact that your mom made you put on a sweater and you just enjoy the fact that you’re warm.
So, what’s the single most important thing that you could be doing in your life, but for some reason it hasn’t made the non-negotiable list? I’m curious to see what everyone’s discipline bugbears are.