How can you become more successful? Get in better shape? Do better and make more money at work? Do more interesting activities and accomplish goals you’ve long desired?
The solution is simple: put yourself in a position to win the easy way.
What does that mean?
Each one of us has a limited amount of willpower. People who are enormously successful do not have some magical amount of willpower, they just put themselves in a position where they could win. For example, people like me who eat a healthy diet don’t necessarily have special willpower to avoid candy and ice cream and processed junk food. I like that stuff just as much as everyone else. However, if you make a point never to buy it when you go grocery shopping and you make a point to eat at home, then you don’t have to worry about having the constant temptation of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the refrigerator. It’s hardest when you first start, because you think about it. After about thirty days, you have established a habit for yourself and it becomes easier and easier until eventually it’s automatic and you don’t have any cravings for unhealthy food anymore.
If you apply this same principle to other areas of life, you’ll see how you can be more successful without using much willpower:
- Disconnect your cable and sell your television. The TV is the biggest time sink in our country. According to Nielsen, the average American watches 151 hours of television per month… that’s a full 5 hours a day! Want to know why? Television is the easiest possible form of entertainment… you just sit down and switch it on. However, the value you get out of it is very very low. It doesn’t engage your brain, doesn’t help you get in better shape, doesn’t make you better at anything except growing a pot belly. With an extra 5 hours a day you could make your life immensely better… find some good books, go to comedy shows or theatre, exercise, hike, take up rock climbing, study, spend time with your family, find true love, learn new skills, take cooking classes, or just about anything else you’ve always wanted to do, but “haven’t had the time”. What’s the easiest solution to stopping the quiet menace to your free time of television? Simply disconnect your television… avoiding watching it if you own one is too hard to do and almost no one is able to do so. Make it easy on yourself by getting rid of it so you don’t have the constant temptation.
- Throw out your junk food and replace it with healthy food in your house. Then make a point not to go out to eat as much. You will save money and start eating a much healthier diet, because every time you are hungry and go open the fridge you will see a bunch of fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, healthy meats. You have no choice except to eat healthy. It’s easy because you have no choice.
- Prevent cravings for junk food by staying full all the time on healthy food. You won’t crave sugar and other crap as much if you are full from eating other food. This is one of the big reasons I sit with my jug of blender drink all day each day. I don’t think about what I’m drinking since I am focused on work, but my blender drink keeps me almost completely full and satisfied so I have no other cravings. Also since it is extremely healthy, I never have a post lunch crash or feel tired – it keeps me feeling bright and sharp all day and that makes working much more fun. Nothing is more painful than when you are sleepy and groggy from a post-lunch at FatBurger crash and have to somehow keep your eyes open. Also eating healthy food throughout the day reduces the likelihood you will be craving a calorie bomb come lunchtime. Once I started doing this when I worked at Visible, I found I wasn’t hungry at lunch, so I had an extra free 45 minutes… which I used to either take a nap (another really smart way to refresh yourself) or to exercise (either just by walking around Seattle or by climbing the stairs in my office building).
- Just show up at the gym at a certain time every day. If you make a rule for yourself that you will just simply show up at the gym each day – and you do NOT have to do a workout, then it makes going to the gym much easier. If you go in and do just one situp, that’s good enough. I think you will generally find though that once you’ve done one situp, why not do two since you are already there? Or a few bench presses? Slowly over time you will build up the habit of working out – but first just build the habit of showing up. That’s the easy way.
Simple hacks for life like this will help you live a healthier, happier, longer life. Try it for 30 days. The first 30 days are the hardest for each of these things and after that it becomes much easier because it is automatic. If you don’t own a television, you will get bored and be forced to go do other things you’ve always wanted to do. If you don’t have any unhealthy food around when you are hungry, you will be forced to eat the fridge full of healthy food. After you’ve set up simple rules like the above ones for yourself you will find it is much easier and takes much less willpower than you ever thought to be successful.
Also – I’d like to note how easy it is to do UNHEALTHY things if you put yourself in the wrong position. For example, Supplement Locker sent us a free gift box full of weird crap like “Andro Rage” and other stuff. Several employees ate this stuff just because it was there – they didn’t really seem to have an interest in buying it themselves, but if it was put in front of them they would eat it. Or for another example, we buy people ice cream cakes for their birthdays. Now that we have 12 employees in our office this means we pretty regularly are presented with sugary mountains of ice cream. I don’t really want to eat that, but if it is right in front of me, I generally have a slice. Same thing on days we order pizza or other unhealthy food.
The key here to being successful is putting yourself in a position to win each day. Don’t make it hard by having a fridge full of unhealthy food you have to consciously say no too. Don’t make it hard to go to the gym by thinking you have to do an intense workout if you do go. Don’t make it hard to recapture your free time by owning a big LCD television with every channel known to mankind. Make it easy on yourself and set up your situation so you have no choice but to do the right thing.
I also suggest using this same principle if you other challenges in life you want to overcome. For instance do you want to quit smoking? That’s a very hard task. Put yourself in a position to be successful by making it easier: get rid of all your cigarettes, your lighters, avoid other people who smoke, and have other outlets. Other outlets could be chewing nicorette gum, using nicotine patches, having really fun activities to do so you are less likely to think about your desire for a cigarette. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers so you have people encouraging you and making it easier to build up your motivation. Or another instance might be that you want to read a new HTML5 book. Make it easier to pick it up and get started by making a commitment to just read 1 page per day. You will find that many times after just one page you end up reading several more. Over time you will get hooked and then do a bunch of pages in a row and before you know it, the book has been read.