Find Your Right Amount
I want to add perspective to a message that often comes out in self-improvement material that many people take the wrong way. There’s an overwhelming narrative that you need to make the right decisions in every moment of every day. You can never have dessert again because sugar is bad for you. It’s never acceptable to hit the “Snooze” button in the morning. Have a positive mindset so that you see the good in everything that happens to you.
While I believe there’s a lot of truth to what I just shared, it requires one very important lens for it to be right in my book - Your choices need to connect to what you authentically want.
As individuals dedicated to our growth, this often means that our daily choices and behaviors need to be in alignment with the best version of ourselves. But guess what? Maybe the best version of ourselves loves ice cream and is okay with having it under the right circumstances. Maybe it’s okay to hit the “Snooze button” and choose to get more rest in the morning.
This leads into an important conversation about the idea of “temperance”. We’ve learned for “temperance” to be so extreme that it’s thought of as self-denial or self-rejection. But the true definition of it is about having just the right amount.
This is what an intentional life is all about. You have the awareness to know what you want, what the right balance is for you, while maintaining a level of discipline to control yourself when you’re tempted to go outside of that.
But it’s all unique to you. You need to understand your boundaries, needs and desires. You need to find your own right amount.
Now let me call out one more thing about this. Intentionality can be used as an excuse. You can deceive yourself that it’s okay to eat ice cream this one time, or press “Snooze” this one time, and convince yourself that it's in the name of meeting the needs of your highest self. But that thought process may not actually represent your highest self as it’s biased by the emotional environment of the current moment.
To account for that, my recommendation is to make these decisions in advance as often as you can. This means that you have an expectation set before you meet that emotional moment and you can use it as a reference point to make the right decision, no matter what your mind might be telling you. It requires discipline, but it helps you find that right amount that you feel really good about, and is unique to you.