This is our Inner Voice. The Great Narrator of our lives is also a Great Debater. The power it holds over each minuscule choice we make, the thousands of decisions we make in a 24-hour period is immense. You’ll recognize when you are in tune with your Inner Voice that you feel in the zone, a state of flow, that reinforces the strength of that voice, and the result is an explosion of dopamine and achievement.
It’s a bit more subtle to figure out when the Inner Voice assumes the role of the Great Debater and acts as a deterrent to our plans and intentions. The easiest way to spot when the Great Debater wins is when you deviate from the plan you set out to follow. For example: planned to work out in the morning but decided that it is too cold outside or that you can postpone it for the afternoon? The Great Debater won against your better judgment; you had scheduled time to file your tax returns ahead of deadline day so you can have peace of mind and not let it eat at you in the background of your mind but instead decided to procrastinate by watching a new episode of your favorite show or do nonurgent chores around the house? The Great Debater won again. In times like these, we tend to focus on the investment of effort than the return.
With a bit of effort on our side we can develop the awareness to spot when our Inner Voice decides to act as a debater. Once we do that, it becomes easier to challenge it. The simplest solution is to assume a non-negotiable stance for things that we deem critical for our well-being, such as health and work. "Go to bed on time." Non-negotiable. "Wake up early." Non-negotiable. "Attend to the work at hand." Non-negotiable. "Pay attention to your loved ones." Non-negotiable.
This is the gist of it. No fancy framework or advice. Just learn to recognize your Great Debater is in charge and strictly reject the bait to debate. It’s non-negotiable.
Things that make you go hmm…
- Ignore activities, push for outcomes. Tobi Lutke, founder and CEO at Shopify, tweeted this reply to a tweet about high-leverage skills. It immediately made me close Twitter and ponder it.
- The basic laws of human stupidity. A brilliant short book. Take 30-40 minutes of your day to read this classic and succinct analysis of human nature and the impact stupid people have on all of us. Spoilers: we constantly underestimate the ratio of stupid people in any group and the consequences are often detrimental for both the stupid and the non-stupid. Here's a 5-minute summary on YouTube.
- How to have buckets of time. A practice that aims to eliminate distractions to your time and energy by bucketing tasks. Simple to put together, yet may be hard to implement if you don’t have some sort of autonomy in your work life.
- Quarterly Review. I’ll do this exercise next week, inspired by the questions shared by Sahil Bloom. I believe in the value of self-reflection and a quartet cadence fits nicely for my time horizon. Seems like a pretty significant return on a relatively minuscule investment. The aim, again, is to optimize energy.