We all have the feeling that we could be doing more from time to time. It’s this guilty little monster that glares at us from the gap between what we are doing and what we have the potential to do.
But it’s even worse when somebody else succeeds by doing something we believe we could have done just as well ourselves if only we’d taken the time to do so. So how do we find that time? Derek Sivers shares his thoughts about that here. This paragraph hit especially hard:
It takes many hours to make what you want to make. The hours don’t suddenly appear. You have to steal them from comfort. Whatever you were doing before was comfortable. This is not. This will be really uncomfortable.
How many of your problems would be solved if you just had more willpower? You’d have the body of your dreams, you’d finish that project you’ve been putting off for years, you’d spend far less time watching cat videos. Willpower is the most essential tool there is in achieving any of our goals
Here, Art of Manliness bings us some tips for strengthening our willpower. Like most things, willpower is a tool that is strengthened by using it. So get ready to put he ice-cream back in the freezer.
While there are many ways to conserve your willpower, there’s really just one way to strengthen it.
By working on any goal or habit that exercises your self-control.
Remember when we talked about how willpower is like a muscle, and that just like a muscle, you have to exhaust it in the short-term in order to build its strength in the long-term? When you work to change a habit, you deplete your willpower in the struggle, but over time, the strength of your willpower muscle increases from these exercises, making you better able to take on future tasks.
"You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending."
Wouldn’t it be nice if your brain was more willing to work with you? You know what you should be doing, you know the reasons why you shouldn’t sit around all day eating ice cream and watching cat videos on Youtube, but when it comes down to it, which one sounds more appealing?
Self discipline is much more of an environmental issue that it is an individual one. While an individual can change their beliefs and behaviour through education, the resources available for education are presented by the environment. Furthermore, the habits an individual builds to meet their desires are, in large part, a product of what’s available in the environment.
At a basic level, this is the logic behind removing ice cream and cakes from your house if you’re trying to lose weight, or turning g off your phone if you want to concentrate on your work. Willpower is important, and we can all do with building our reserves of it, but it never hurts to manipulate our environment into boosting our chances of sticking to our goals.
Most of us feel like we should be getting more sleep. But this infographic showing the sleep routines of 50 highly successful people shows that there is no single “correct” amount. Sleeping times vary from only 3 hours to a far more appealing 9 hours a night. I guess it’s the hours we’re awake we really need to worry about…
July 31, 2020 3:41 pm - Steve Peters
I’ve been hitting it pretty hard on the writing recently. A couple of months ago I set myself the target of writing every day, and so far, so good. It’s been hard, there have been sacrifices, but that’s what it takes to be successful. Right? Right?? Lately, I’ve been wondering about that. My focus on…continue reading on Medium…
July 30, 2020 7:42 pm - Steve Peters
Faith has always made me uncomfortable, which is inconvenient if you’re the beneficiary of a Catholic upbringing. My sceptical nature didn’t go down well in religious studies at all. I was the kid who identified with Doubting Thomas, the one who asked for proof of Jesus’ resurrection. If I were one of the disciples I’d…continue reading on Medium…
We could all use a little help achieving our goals from time to time, even if that help comes from the wisdom of a man born almost 2000 years ago. No, not that man. I’m talking about Epictetus, one of the most renowned Stoics in history:
The great stoic Epictetus put forth his “dichotomy of control” illustrating that the world is divided into things that are in our control (thoughts, emotions, and actions) and things that are out of our control (possessions, looks, or privilege).
If you carefully differentiate the things that are in your control from the things that are not, you influence the things that are in your control to make your life the way you visualize it. You also stop worrying about things that are not under your control. You come to realize how pointless it is and that saves you a great deal of time and energy.
In can be tough to say no. Not only can we end up feeling guilty for refusing, but we are left wondering if we missed out. It’s tempting to say “yes” to every opportunity just in case it’s the best use of our time. But it rarely, if ever, works out this way. In fact, as James Clear points out, the opposite is usually true.
The words “yes” and “no” get used in comparison to each other so often that it feels like they carry equal weight in conversation. In reality, they are not just opposite in meaning, but of entirely different magnitudes in commitment.
When you say no, you are only saying no to one option. When you say yes, you are saying no to every other option.
I like how the economist Tim Harford put it, “Every time we say yes to a request, we are also saying no to anything else we might accomplish with the time.” Once you have committed to something, you have already decided how that future block of time will be spent.
It’s easy to feel that if you’re not doing 10 things at once, you’re not doing enough. We’ve created a world for ourselves where there’s always something on our to-do list, and failure to achieve any one of them feels like failing at life. Then, because your attention is scattered, you end up doing each task half as well as you could have, which leaves you feeling even further behind.
But this isn’t just a question of quality of performance, it’s about quality of life. Life is better, everything is better when we’re present. When we’re focused wholeheartedly on the thing we’re doing right now. Here’s Leo Babauta’s take on the subject:
Every now and then, I have to remind myself to do one thing at a time.
The tendency to try to do a whole bunch of things seems to be a natural result of my wanting to get everything done as soon as I can. Many browser tabs open, switching between one thing and the next, endlessly, endlessly.
No wonder I can never focus on anything!
Then I remember to do one thing at a time, and it’s like coming home.
Art Of Manliness with 11 exercises that you can use to train your powers of concentration:
Research has shown that individuals who can sustain their attention for long periods of time perform better on all sorts of cognitive challenges than those who cannot. A man with a scatter-shot attention span will only be able to experience one plane of existence; he can skim across the surface of the world’s vast knowledge and wisdom, but is unable to dive deeper and discover the treasures below. The man with an iron-clad focus can do both; he is the boat captain and the pearl diver and the world is truly his oyster.
If you have a goal to learn and understand as much about the world as you possibly can before you die, strengthening your power of concentration is not an option, it’s a necessity.