in the vein of scott adams, i've been trying to implement a system as opposed to setting goals. my system, at least how i envision it, is to identify things i enjoy that are beneficial to me. when it comes to exercise, i've been trying to find the best exerciese that 1) i enjoy and 2) is sustainable.
after a few years of experimenting, i've landed on walking 4 miles a day. i loved running, but found the injuries weren't enjoyable. i loved basketball, but finding access to a gym and a decent group of players was tough. spinning on a bike was not really sustainable nor did i particularly enjoy it. walking, however, is really enjoyable and sustainable. i see myself walking 4 miles a day well into my senior years.
eating - i've come to the conclusion that i simply need to eat less and arm myself with the right information about which foods are good for my brain and body and which leave me feeling full and satiated.
however, i don't see any reason why i can't implement and improve a system and at the same time strengthen my willpower or impulse control. i read a couple of other blog posts today and yesterday which hit on this.
steve sailor was commentating on a new york post column about amy chua's new theory on cultural groups and why they are successful. one of the tri-fectas she talks about is impulse control - calling it a hallmark of self-help. impulse control is "the ability to delay instant gratification in the service of a greater goal." This is how steve sailor defined it. but in the article, describes impulse control as "the ability to resist temptation, especially the temptation to give up in the face of hardship or quit instead of persevering at a difficult task."
i think having a system and impulse control significantly increases anyone's chance for success and happiness in life.
and today, i read another great blog post on building that impulse control muscle and how to accomplish it. this idea isn't anything new from leo babauta, but this post really caught my attention because that is how i see my impulses. in his post "the child that holds us back" he talks about how he overcame habits and how hard it was - until he stopped listening to the 5-6 year-old child voice in him. he describes how all of us have that same child-voice in us saying all the things that will get us to give-up or give in to temptations.
the trick is to "notice that this 5-year-old child is telling you what to do. but don't listen. don't obey. don't believe its rationalizations." in other posts, he describes a trick about simply acknowledging the urge - you "watch it", you can breathe deeply, walk around a bit and then the urge will go away. it's all about being more mindful and giving yourself a chance to strengthen your impulse control.