If you’re someone who, like most of us, occasionally struggles with temptation or distraction or work aversion, there is a solution. Because the problem isn’t you, exactly, the problem is that you’re not putting yourself in the right situations. Or perhaps, more accurately stated, the problem is that you keep putting yourself in the wrongsituations.
As the poet W.H Auden put it in a famous paragraph:
“A modern stoic knows that the surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time: decide what you want or ought to do during the day, then always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble.”
Auden and the Stoics knew that routines and habits were essential. Auden said that routine was a sign of ambition—by limiting yourself, you signal the important things you are reaching for. Epictetus called this ‘feeding the habit bonfire.’
This begs some questions: do you fuel a good fire or a bad one? How do you fuel it? Do you know? If you don’t, today is the day to understand that the way to be a better you isn’t with iron willpower or magical affirmations. It’s with a simple routine that feeds the good fire.
What will you do in the morning? What will you do in the evening? When will you do your important tasks and how will you approach them? A laser focus on these questions—and creating dependable answers that work on a going forward basis—is how you conquer your passions and your weaknesses.
Because there won’t be any room for them.