Here’s the thing. Okay, I decide, it’s time to shift some of this avoirdupois. (Down here in New Zealand, it’s summer.) I have a good relationship with Dr Atkins. We’re old friends. Mates. We’ve spent time together on many occasions.
But the problem is, he’s a bit boring. After hanging out for a week, maybe two, I’ve had enough of him. Along comes a cute, hot, sexy bowl of salty chips, and see ya, Doc.
Then my pinched Puritan conscience gets on her soapbox and proceeds to itemize every single one of my character flaws, my lack of willpower, my general moral weakness and inability to follow through on any path of action. Alphabetised. On a spreadsheet.
So, why not give up now, if I’m such a flawed individual?
Because I’m not flawed. I’m just willpower depleted. I’ve read the research to prove it.
When I get up every morning, I have a certain amount of willpower. My quota for the day. An account balance, a budget of willpower. And then every decision I make – every single one – draws on that balance. Until, at the end of the day, tired, bored, hungry and with my account at zero, along comes a bowl of hot chips and gives me the glad eye.
So, what uses up the willpower? Decision making. Really. Deciding what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, what to pack for lunch, what I need to take for the day, whether to wear a coat or take an umbrella … everything.
It’s like water on stone. Only the tiniest increment is worn away, but by the time I need to draw on it, there’s nothing left.
That’s why I love my systems.They’re something to carry me, like a boat, so I’m not swimming in the high seas of temptation, with salt water in my eyes, up my nose, and the wind whipping up the white tops.
It reduces decisions on the small stuff, so I have more energy to deal with the big stuff.
I think of systems like the ribs of a boat. The boat can be a tiny leather coracle, dabbling about in the shoals.
Or, it can be a white-winged yacht, skimming out into the high seas. The ribs provide the skeleton that holds the hull, the hull keeps the water out, and the sails keep the people moving.
If there’s a hole in the boat, then all my energy will be spent bailing, bailing, bailing. No chance of getting further out than ankle deep. Too risky.
But even if the boat is tiny, even if there’s just a few of us in it, if it’s watertight, we’re off on an adventure.
So, back to resisting the bowl of hot chips. Does something as simple as packing up lunches the night before really make that much of a difference?
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. What tiny routine do you use that makes your mornings a little easier?
And helps you look at those hot chips, and walk on by?