Simplistically, making good decisions is rejecting the bad while acting upon the good. In many cases, rejecting the bad is almost a more difficult and continuous task than acting upon the good. For example, the decision to maintain a healthy diet certainly entails eating healthy foods. However most people struggle more with not eating junk food than with eating a salad here and there. The same can be said for spending. While it is easy to put away a set dollar amount every month for savings, it is much more difficult to constantly avoid spending throughout the whole month.
One attempt to help alcoholics avoid drinking is Antabuse, a drug that causes flushing, vomiting, and a host of other unpleasant side effects, if alcohol is consumed. Those struggling with alcoholism often find it difficult to constantly say “no” to alcohol. Since it only takes a momentary lapse in resolve and the opportunities to drink occur incessantly all day, every day, the journey of sobriety is often fraught with relapses. The thinking behind Antabuse is that it takes the job of constantly saying “no” throughout the day and replaces it with a single “yes” decision to take the medication.
In the modern world, nearly every pleasure and temptation are available conveniently and constantly. Want a burger and side of fries? You’ll probably pass at least 3 or 4 places on your way home from work or school promising you just that. Want a sweet treat? There are aisles filled with just that at any number of grocery stores, corner stores, and gas stations within a few blocks of you home or office. Feel like something else? Amazon, Uber, or another delivery service will drop it off to you wherever you are. And that’s just food. Alcohol, entertainment, sex, and nearly anything else are available to everyone at any time, with minimal effort.
Creating a more simple and productive life must seek to make the good choices the easy and convenient choice. This means selecting a workout plan that is nearby or even at home. This means keeping foods close by that are healthy and making the less healthy foods a treat rather than a regular part of the diet. It is much easier to say no to several pints of ice cream once a week at the store than to avoid eating several of the delicious pints that are conveniently already sitting in your freezer. It may mean planning out meals, using tools to increase our productivity on our devices while limiting distractions, and pre specifying our budget each month. It means establishing convenient times and methods of communication for keeping up with important relationships. It is a different type of intentionality. One that seeks to make good decisions easy and makes it convenient for us to ignore our vices.