learning, metaphor, pairadimes, purpose, meaning

Default Setting or Mindful and Intentional?

I wish that I could remember the source of this idea but I don’t, and I would like to start by acknowledging that I did not think of this myself:

[Update – Source: ‘The world’s worst boss’ by Seth Godin]

Who is the worst boss in the world? It is YOU to YOURSELF! If anyone else spoke to you the way you speak to yourself, you would consider them horrible people. Our inside voices tend to be quite hard on ourselves. If we had a boss ‘out there’, beyond ourselves, who was so mean, degrading, unrealistic in expectations, and negative, we would not remain in that job… but we take it from ourselves.

Yet unlike an external boss, whom we have very little control over, we have an incredible ability to alter our own thoughts and actions. But both of these things are actually hard to change. Our thoughts and actions tend to run on ‘default’ settings, ones scripted by habits and patterns that we run through without intentional thoughts.

It takes intention and effort to get out of the default settings that we tend to live in. I’m starting 2019 doing just this. I purchased a year-long calendar that I put up in the room with our treadmill. I also purchased a pack of four coloured sticky dots. The colours are to document my ability to do 4 different things daily:

  • Exercise (a minimum of 20 min. treadmill run + weights or stretching)
  • Intermittent fasting (a minimum of 14hrs)
  • Meditation (minimum 10 min)
  • 30 minutes of reading or writing (choice – not work ‘required’, although I’m an education nerd and much of this will be work ‘related’.)

I’ve put this chart up because I know that without being intentional, I will fall back on my default settings. I’m also keenly aware that other than the intermittent fasting, (or rather time-restricted eating), which I’ve been doing Sunday to Thursday when not on holidays, I recognize that these other items will take about an hour a day. So, I decided to delete a game from my iPad that I spend too much time on. Yes, I enjoy the game, but it is not ‘time well wasted’ and I’m sure the benefits of doing these other things will be far more rewarding.

The key here is that I’m being intentional. I’m not expecting myself to change my default settings without creating routines (making time in my schedule) and rewards (my sticker chart) to help me. I’m also sharing this here, making my intentions public. In fact, I’m going to commit to sharing my January progress here on my blog. There is a lot of evidence that making your goals public can help you meet those goals.

Here is a wonderful talk that will challenge you to rethink about living in your default settings. Be mindful and intentional about your life and what ‘stories’ you tell yourself. You deserve it.

“This is Water” – by David Foster Wallace.

Also published on Medium.

5 comments on “Default Setting or Mindful and Intentional?

  1. Congratulations on your commitment to self, Dave. It sounds like you are exercising a number of solid strategies to incorporate your new habits/ways of being – intentional goals, realistic expectations, and putting these intentions out there to encourage accountability. I would also encourage you to make sure you take time to celebrate yourself as you progress. This way you become the “boss” you have always wanted! Thanks for the push for me to do the same 🙂

    1. Hi Aaron, happy new year!
      Yes, according to Dr. Patrick the fast is over once you drink something that is NOT water (listen to the 38-59 second point of the video). I’ve been doing this ‘time restricted earing’ (not really fasting or dieting) for a while, but I wasn’t counting my black coffee first thing in the morning. Now I wait for the 14 hours before having anything other than water.

      2 things to note:
      1. I do this Sunday night to Thursday night so that I can be social on weekend evenings without feeling restricted. Some research suggests ‘cheat days’ are likely not very detrimental, and then I really don’t feel ‘restricted’.
      2. When I first started, I made it much easier with this little strategy: if I felt like snacking after dinner, I would take some of that snack to school for lunch the next day. This way I wasn’t restricting myself, I was simply delaying gratification. Only had to do this 3 times and then I really had a handle on it.
      Besides regular exercise, I think this is one of the best things I do for my health.

      1. Thank you David for the clarification. I mustn’t have been attentive at the early point of the video. Sorry.

        Might give it a go. I like your point about packing the gratification for later.


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