Use the Odysseus Protocol

For most people, the tendency is to see will power like a bridge. It’s what enables you to cross over the troubles of life and get to the other side, where things are better, you are better and there’s nobody between you and the finish line.

Except, actually, it’s not. The idea that will power is a good way to move forward is completely bunk. Factors like mood, personal beliefs and internal motivation all can be helpful in resisting the urge to give in, buffering you against “will power depletion”. But when people are repeatedly tested with temptation, the glucose levels in their brains go down. In other words, will power is as much physical as it is mental. Staying on track takes energy, and when you’re too low on fuel, your risk of falling off the wagon goes up.

The best way to resist temptation and stick to a better way is to create new “behavioral architectures”. That just means you organize or build your daily routine (and life) in such a way that what’s tempting isn’t accessible anymore. The distance or lack of logistical access essentially eliminates your vice as a legitimate choice, making it easier for you to stick to new, healthier and productive habits.

The putting away of temptations is called as the “Odysseus protocol“. (This is a reference to the ancient story of Odysseus, who, when still lucid and out of harm’s way, took precautions to ensure he wouldn’t be ensnared and killed by the Sirens.)

Listen up: willpower does not exist.  Never had; never will. There’s action, and inaction.  That’s it. And fallibility is just about synonymous with being human.  If you’re human, by definition it means you’re going to screw up. You will forget. You will blank out. It’s just the way things are.

Summing-up: Whatever you’re aiming to improve, when you make a modification, be clear about the “why” behind the change. Be equally as clear about why the solution you pick is preferable over other options, too. The more focus you have about how you’ll benefit and what your risks are, the easier it likely will be to tolerate any growing pains the change might bring. And if you do fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up. Just grab your hammer, build and try again.

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