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Thinking About How You'll Feel to Survive Impulses

I just finished up a 12 hour workday. I got a lot of stuff done, took only the bare minimum in breaks, etc. All I wanted to do afterwards was watch Elementary, a modern Sherlock Holmes show. Somehow my "no new shows" rule gets bypassed for new shows about Sherlock Holmes, and I've been enjoying this one.

Last week I watched Elementary. I noticed that while I was watching, I was also doing other stuff on my computer-- organizing files, cleaning up email, checking things online. The anticipation of watching the show was extraordinary, but the actual experience didn't measure up. It was enjoyable, relaxing, stimulating, etc, but not as great as I expect it to be.

As I've written about before, I'm one of those people who has pretty poor impulse control. That's why I give myself so many black and white rules that Absolutely Cannot Be Broken. If my impulses see a crack in my resolve, they push through it. Being someone with poor impulse control is a really bad thing, too; the habit is correlated with less success in pretty much every area.

You'll notice, though, that I'm not watching Elementary right now. Instead I'm writing a blog post. For someone as prone to impulse as I am, it's important to rely on tricks while simultaneously buliding up resistance to impulse over the long term.

Small Training Opportunities


Impulsiveness causes a lot of failures, large and small. Giving in to impulsiveness means not doing the difficult and important work you want to do. It means breaching your commitments to yourself to live better. It leads to bad feelings and down-goings.

I started training in this topic a little bit ago. The gains are large.

It's one of the best feelings I've ever had, knowingly overriding an impulse to do something stupid or distracting by using my conscious mind. I detect the impulse/feeling, think, and channel my attention/energy elsewhere.

It's hard to describe how joyful it is pull back from making a stupid decision. And I think, "I trained myself to be able to do that. I wouldn't have done naturally." Magnificent.

When the topic comes up, people like to ask me how I work on it. I have a hard time answering.

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