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Prompted: A Reason to Live Well
Simplifying the decisions that drive us towards worthwhile pursuits.
I hope you were able to spend some time with family and reflect on what you’re grateful for. If you’re still bloated or already targeting a new gym membership for 2023, this one is for you.
As always, thanks for reading!
A Reason to Live Well
Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow, I can do what others can’t.
Doing anything worthwhile is difficult.
The benefits of living well come after months or years of consistent action, but our brains are only wired to understand short-term cause and effect. We’re inclined to pursue what provides immediate pleasure, but worthwhile pursuits offer no short-term reinforcement.
Trying to learn Spanish for fun is almost impossible. Trying to learn Spanish before a vacation to Spain is hard but doable. Trying to learn Spanish after moving to Spain and needing to get a job is still hard, but the results come faster due to necessity.
We need a reason to make ourselves do difficult things and live well.
Physical pursuits are excellent examples of this. Especially when they are outside of our current capabilities. Signing up for a race were not currently capable of completing is like moving to a new country and having no other choice but to learn the language.
It forces us to focus all our attention on one difficult objective, but the benefits of physical pursuits, in particular, have countless positive externalities.
Eating well is hard. Getting to bed early is hard. Exercising every day is hard. Sacrificing time with friends is hard. Pushing past a point of perceived failure is hard.
A physical challenge on the calendar that we can’t currently overcome gives us a reason to do all of these things.
It’s easy to fall out of routine and eat poorly or skip workouts. In isolation, the short-term rewards outweigh the long-term benefits.
But if we think about the negative consequences that choice will have on our training, it transforms long-term ambiguous consequences into measurable short-term considerations. All of the sudden, we have a reason grounded in the present moment to do the right thing.
The same is true with sleep, drinking, watching tv, etc. Committing to something difficult quantifies the negative consequences of poor decisions and moves their impact forward in time.
It’s still hard to live well, but a physical challenge that’s out of our reach conceptualizes the effects of our decisions and makes it easier to choose the hard things that make everything else easier.
Are there any tangible short-term consequences for your actions?
What type of pursuit can you create or sign up for to construct consequences for actions you want to avoid?
What pursuits are truly outside of your current capabilities? What would it be impossible for you to do today that you can work towards in the future?
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An easy read from the King of Habits, James Clear, about the power of “keystone” habits.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.