Routine = Optionality
The Disciplined Path to Purpose
The morning is the wisest time of the day. Then, before the confusion of the day begins, one can take stock and set priorities.
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Discipline Equals Freedom
I’ve included a video interview with Jocko Willink (who coined the phrase) at the end of the essay to round out this idea.
The most “free” individuals tend to keep a very well-ordered lifestyle.
Structure provides more room to be free.
But what is “free?”
A free individual is able to dedicate themselves to daily activities based on choice rather than necessity. They do the necessary things, but are also granted the room to make their own choices. They have ordered their lives to maximize optionality. The necessary precursor to fulfillment.
The superficial perspective:
Overt rigidity in scheduling, objective setting, planning, etc. will constrain your ability to do the things you ‘want’ to do.
I don’t buy that. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Show me someone without a daily routine or adherence to healthy habitual behaviors, and I will show you an unfulfilled life.
When you rob yourself of any level of predictability, you invite chaos into your life.
We are not wired to thrive in chaos.
We must find our calling within the tribe.
We must find our own unique purpose.
Healthy and habitual work towards Mastery will help us find that purpose.
Choose an art, skill or endeavor and dedicate yourself wholly to that pursuit.
Order a healthy lifestyle around that purpose. A routine, perhaps.
Or, take each passing day on a whim. Live each day without purposeful effort towards a goal. Pass each waking minute without meaning or structure. Choose hell.
Seneca tells us: a mind that is confused or anxious about the future is a miserable one.
What’s the antidote to this?
Structure, routine, predictability.
The unconstrained artist, sitting in a dark messy room, going from project to project.
The care-free soul dancing each day through a field of unknown pleasures and pursuits.
Will they find their purpose? Are they getting closer to a life of optionality?
These might strike us as romantic and appealing.
The data does not support this approach as a winning strategy for a fulfilling life.
Rarely do these individuals create a life of optionality.
They are designing a life of serfdom.
Some of these lessons are counterintuitive.
You might think: too much rigidity will rob me of my autonomy. This is where I ask you to embrace the thing that might seem counterintuitive.
Fight hard against the feeling that you should sit in one spot and just ‘relax.’
If you are lost or caught in the throws of cognitive distortion - schedule your next hour. Find a way to hold yourself accountable to an objective. Go do that thing.
Experience the healthy hit of dopamine when you complete your task. Then repeat that… as much as you can.
You might disagree.
You might find joy, fulfillment and optionality through taking each day without any structure or routine.
Perhaps you love unpredictability and chaos.
I doubt you do.
There’s a reason we look forward to events on the calendar. They keep the arrow straight and narrow towards the target.
We orient ourselves towards a purpose. We find fulfillment through achieving that singular task.
I hope you can continue to strive towards an end that provides you fulfillment.
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I like your new style. Short and sweet!