Final week, I downloaded a brand new online game to play.

And half-hour later, I uninstalled the sport. Not as a result of I didn’t like the sport, however particularly as a result of I preferred the sport an excessive amount of. The sport is named Dave the Diver, the place you’re a SCUBA Diver/Sushi restaurant proprietor. You spend every day diving and catching fish, after which every night serving sushi on the restaurant.

This sport pressed each organic button my mind has for “effectivity.”

My mind informed me I needed to execute every dive as effectively as doable. Every night time on the restaurant meant I wanted to obtain a 100% buyer satisfaction score.

In fact, nothing would occur if I didn’t.

However this sport + my mind equaled a recipe for addictive catastrophe. After half-hour I knew if I didn’t delete it, I’d spend each doable minute taking part in the sport, and each minute not taking part in could be spent fascinated about how you can get extra environment friendly on the sport.

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As a result of I’m in the midst of writing a secret-book-shaped-project that I can’t discuss… I knew I wanted to avoid wasting Future Steve.

In different phrases, it was time to channel an historical technique for survival:

A “Ulysses Pact.”

What’s a Ulysses Pact?

In Homer’s Odyssey, Ulysses (also called “Odysseus”) is about to sail previous a harmful island of Sirens who sing lovely music. This music is so lovely that anyone who hears it loses all management, and can sail towards the island, crashing their boat on the rocks surrounding the island.

Fortunately, our boy Uylsses has been suggested by the witch Circe on the one approach he and his males can survive. In Madelline Miller’s Circe, she recounts the recommendation Circe provides the captain:

“[For] the Sirens, there chances are you’ll use your methods. Fill your males’s ears with wax, and go away your individual free. For those who tie your self to the mast, chances are you’ll be the primary man to ever hear their track and inform the story.”

As writer Corey Doctorow factors out in a current publication:

“Ulysses was robust sufficient to know that he would sometime be weak. He expressed his power by guarding towards his weak point.

“Whenever you take some risk off the desk throughout a second of power in recognition of some coming second of weak point.”

In different phrases, typically giving up on your self is probably the most brave factor you are able to do. It asks you to simply accept your weaknesses, and make a strategic pre-planned choice to guard towards them.

Ulysses Pacts In My Life

I’m a comical catastrophe trapped within the physique of an grownup who pretends to be a functioning member of society. I’m additionally my very own boss, fully in charge of my time. Yikes.

I battle with impulse management. There are particular experiences that I’m simply incapable of doing “just a little bit.” I additionally know that when I begin an fulfilling exercise, it would take over.

Which implies it’s virtually inconceivable for me to solely do some issues “just a bit bit” after which say “okay that’s sufficient for as we speak.”

In spite of everything, I do know my mind isn’t outfitted to deal with the lifetime of abundance we’re surrounded with: infinite distraction, hedonistic enjoyment, limitless meals, and so on.

E.O. Wilson mentioned it greatest:

“The true drawback of humanity is the next: We’ve got Paleolithic feelings, medieval establishments and godlike know-how.”

Quite than lament my lack of willpower relating to addictive know-how, I observe acceptance and as an alternative make willpower pointless.

Thus, my life is held along with spit, duct tape, and Ulysses Pacts:

  • I’ve an app on my cellphone referred to as Opal. It routinely prompts at 7AM and blocks sure apps, web sites, and all social media for a lot of the hours of the work day. I nonetheless decide up my cellphone 10-20 occasions per day and attempt to open these apps, after which I’m reminded to get again to work.
  • I take advantage of a program on my pc referred to as Focus. It routinely prompts at 7AM and blocks virtually ANYTHING enjoyable or distracting on my pc till the tip of the work day.
  • I don’t maintain snacks in my home. I really like snacks. And as soon as a bag is open, it will get eaten. However once I’m sitting on the sofa watching TV (I simply completed Fallout and liked it), and I’m craving a snack, there’s no choice to be made. I’m actually not going to drive to the shop.
  • I don’t have any video games on my cellphone. I do know that I can’t management any impulses, particularly for “gatcha” free video games that encourage you to purchase gems to degree up.
  • I’m locked out of every social media app after quarter-hour daily. Social Media has been designed by behavioral scientists, with billions of {dollars}, to be as addictive as doable. So I don’t attempt to “use it just a bit bit.” I merely don’t let myself use it for any longer than “just a little bit” as a result of I’m actually locked out.
  • I don’t play multiplayer video games. I’ve no regulation round “okay I’m achieved,” so I not play multiplayer video games. I guess if I performed World of Warcraft, you’d by no means get one other publication from me. Thus, I solely play single participant video games with a narrative or narrative.
  • I routinely donate to 2 charities each month: ProPublica investigative journalism and the Nashville Meals Kitchen. Each of those selections had been made ONCE, which implies I by no means have to recollect to donate, nor am I tempted to spend the cash as soon as it hits my account.
  • Each time I’m going to the physician, dermatologist, or dentist, I all the time schedule my subsequent appointment whereas I’m there. As a result of I do know I’ll overlook to take action months later, or I’ll inform myself I don’t want to go. Future Steve will not wish to get his tooth cleaned or get bloodwork achieved.
  • My exercises are pre-scheduled in my calendar. I’d a lot fairly not work out, however I do know if I don’t plan for them in my calendar, one thing else way more enjoyable (however much less helpful) will take their place.

The one cause you get this article each week, and the one cause I get to the fitness center just a few occasions per week (along with successful the genetic and environmental lottery), is due to these Ulysses Pacts.

Right here’s how you need to use them in your individual life.

You-lysses Pacts in Motion

Returning to Corey Doctorow:

“Ulysses pacts aren’t excellent, however they’re crucial. On the very least, making a Ulysses pact begins with acknowledging that you’re fallible. That you could be tempted, and rationalize your approach into taking dangerous motion, even when you understand higher.

Turning into an grownup is a means of studying that your power comes from seeing your weaknesses and defending your self and the individuals who belief you from them.”

Let’s see how we are able to add some Ulysses Pacts to your life.

To create your individual Ulysses Pact: search for alternatives to decide TODAY in a second of power, to safeguard your self towards an anticipated second of weak point TOMORROW.

Even higher, search for alternatives to decide as soon as, and it prevents you from needing to make use of willpower to repeatedly do the best factor sooner or later.

A couple of extra examples:

  • Determine to not maintain problematic meals in the home as soon as, and also you don’t must spend all night time, each night time, deciding NOT to eat these meals.
  • Determine to routinely donate to a trigger you’re keen on as soon as, and also you don’t have to recollect to not spend that cash on one thing else and donate every month.
  • Delete and/or block social media and time-wasting video games in your cellphone as soon as, and immediately the choice to learn a ebook or go for a stroll fairly than mindlessly scroll via TikTok or Instagram turns into a lot simpler.

Keep in mind, acknowledging and creating safeguards towards our weaknesses isn’t an indication of giving up or weak point.

It’s a brave signal of acceptance.

It’s additionally good.

What are the Ulysses Pacts you employ in your individual life? Did this text encourage you to create one for your self?

Attain out and let me know!


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