Rely on Systems, Not Discipline

If an alcoholic or a smoker that is trying to completely quit drinking or smoking asked me for help, my first piece of advice would be to throw out every ounce of liquor and throw away every box of cigarettes. Out of sight, out of mind.

Now, I don’t know how to solve alcoholism, and my one piece of advice sure won’t solve the problem for most, but the one piece of advice I would never give to that same person would be to keep their vice close by. If I was that alcoholic, how could I surround myself with liquor and expect to abstain from drinking?

This is what a lot of us are doing with the less extreme temptations in our lives. We keep our distractions close by and ready at any moment. Think of the things that distract you, whether that be a game console, an app, a platform, anything. Are they still easily accessible to you? That’s part of the problem.

Rather than try to rely on your discipline to save you from your own vices (which up to this point has failed each and every time), rely on your systems. Every night at 9PM, my internet shuts off (a feature on Google Wifi routers, if you’re curious) and I’m no longer able to access the endless array of distractions that might await me on the other side of the screen. I could keep the internet on and try to use my raw willpower to keep myself focused on my writing or work, but why leave it to chance? Make it difficult to fail, and you’ll fail less: simple!

Similarly, don’t expect yourself to just give up the urge to binge eat or to play video games on your own. Rather, remove the distractions entirely. Stop buying the foods that you usually binge on, and sell your console. Be absolutely relentless in removing distractions. Seriously. It’ll save your life.