Head Start

Some things are in our nature. That doesn’t mean we have to yield to our nature, but it’s always good to know what direction your natural inclination pulls.

For instance, one of the reasons I set so many goals and checklists and daily habits is because it’s actually in my nature to be quite lazy. It’s so easy for me to procrastinate. So easy for me to lose my motivation.

If it weren’t, then it wouldn’t be necessary for me to build all these systems to keep me on track. But it is, because I can’t let my base nature win out over what I want in the longer term.

Even in the short term, a day’s laziness makes me miserable. I don’t enjoy days off and I’m terrible at “weekending.” I recognize the need to take breaks in order to preserve my efficiency but I’m pretty awful at actually taking them. When I do have “time off” from my main task, I usually fill it with smaller productive activities. That’s because I can feel the grip of inertia pulling on me any time I slow down, whispering in my ear how nice it would be to just quit.

That voice is a liar, but it knows how to lie well.

A lot of the point of life is to rise above our base natures. To do more than just survive. Sometimes that means you have to give yourself every advantage you have, and use every trick in the book to beat that tempting voice that tells you it’s easier to do the bare minimum.

Sometimes I get tired. Sometimes I know I’m not at my strongest. Sometimes stress and fatigue wear on me and hurt my ability to make good choices. Those are the times when it’s so important that I’ve built this structure, given myself these rules to live by. The rules were made by me at my best, so that they would be there when I’m at my worst.

That’s my head start. My advantage over my worst impulses. They try to catch up to me in the weak moments, but I’ve already got the jump on them, because by the time they get here, I’ve still got my best self with me in spirit, telling me what to do.

Don’t slack when you’re at your best. Don’t coast. Take the time to put some of that into a structure you can use later when the going gets tough. That can mean saving money when you have it. It can mean writing a schedule when you’re in a good place mentally to do so. It can mean meal prepping. It can take a lot of forms, but you’ll be grateful for it no matter what form it took.

Every day is a race against your worst inclinations, and some days you’re in top shape and some days you’re not. So give yourself a head start as often as you can.

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