Milk and Cigarettes

Rambles about stuff I like.

Don’t surf the internet until all your goals are done, a ramble about self-discipline.

Well there’s been quite the snowstorm here in Ottawa. Something like 20cm of snow has fallen overnight. That means I’ll have a bunch of shoveling to do if I want to get outta the driveway for my 8:30 gym appointment.

Now… uh, I don’t really have any good ideas of what to write about this morning. I would check the internet for ideas, but one of my goals is to not surf the net until all my goals are done. Hey! That’s something.

Let me tell you a habit I’m developing which has really skyrocketed my productivity. It is simply this: no internet, no tv and no games until I’ve completed all my goals. There’s a couple exceptions, I keep my e-mails open from 9 to 5 so I can answer work stuff in a timely manner. And it’s ok to check the weather before I go out. And I’m allowed to open wordpress in order to write this blog post.

But that’s it! No checking Google news, no reddit (reddit has been banned from my computer anyway), no online surfing, no nothing. And let me tell you, it has been an unbelievable boon to my productivity.

I sort of think I may have written about this already, but then I got busy with my special exam and got out of the habit. So now I’m getting back into the habit and already it’s paying huge dividends.

For example, yesterday I had a relatively easy day of goals, and I was done all my work by about 3:30pm. Now, once I was done I checked some of my favorite websites – but after I had read all of those, which took maybe 10 minutes tops – then I was bored again. I could’ve continued surfing the web, but instead, I went back to work. 

Really, once you stop surfing the web during the day, you realize how pointless it really is. Honestly, all those snarky websites and pictures of cats will still be there once you’re done your goals for the day. Better still, if you wait until you’ve finished your “To Do” list for the day to surf the web (or watch tv, or play video games), you’ll be able to enjoy them all the more, because now you’re doing it without any chores hanging over your head. 

It’s the same great feeling you get if you’re following a diet and you’ve been faced with a difficult day. Say you’re on a diet and you can’t have treats – and then someone brings in donuts for the morning meeting, and despite REALLY wanting one, you go without – but then it’s Sally’s birthday, and so there’s a break in the afternoon for some cake, and despite REALLY wanting a slice of cake, you go without – then finally, at home, there’s a cupboard full of cookies calling to you, and despite REALLY, REALLY!!! wanting a couple cookies, you go without. As you’re falling asleep, an overwhelming sense of accomplishment will wash over you – because despite the many, many temptations during the day, you’ve managed to stick to your diet. One might call this feeling the “goodness of self-discipline”, that is, foregoing what you want in the short term in order to achieve your long term goals.

After all, that’s all that self-discipline is. Whether we want to climb Mount Everest or win the Penske account or lose 20lbs. In order to achieve all these goals, we have to give up luxuries in the short term to achieve what we want in the long term. If you really want to climb Mount Everest, then you can’t be loafing it up the side of the mountain, playing Angry Birds on your phone. No, you’ve got to be focused, and you’ve got to practice your climbing every day until you’re ready to tackle the big peak. If you want to close the Penske account, you can’t be wasting your time surfing reddit and arguing with nerds on the internet. No, you’ve got to figure out what the hell Penske needs and then make sure your company can come through with the deliverables. And if you want to lose 20lbs, you can’t be eating junk food and drinking soda while relaxing on the couch. No! You’ve got to stick to a diet, every day, and get outside and exercise!

We can’t achieve any goal without self-discipline. Cultivating self-discipline is hard at first, but the more you practice, the easier it gets, and the more self-discipline you gain in the long run.


November 27, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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