Thursday, January 12, 2017

Go Get Your Lunch (You Have Time)

Most of my brain space this month is taken up by thoughts of lunch.

In large part, this is because I am about 11 days into the Whole30 program. Basically, Whole30 is a sort of dietary reboot (and not a diet, as the founders are quick to argue) where you militantly cut out all dairy, grains, legumes, sugars, alcohols, and everything else fun.

After 30 days, devotees argue, you experience huge bursts of energy, your skin gets clearer, and just maybe you lose a little weight. So far, I’ve mostly accomplished offending my mother by turning down her homemade spaghetti sauce, suffering through crippling sugar withdrawal headaches, and confusing the poor staff members at Gray Plant Mooty responsible for ordering team lunches. But, at least it has given me cause to reflect on the concept of personal discipline (and how it applies to lunch).

It strikes me that personal discipline, much like starting a new business, is rarely a true solo effort (although many entrepreneurs can tell you that it can sometimes feel like one). If I had stoically attempted to undertake this program in secret, I likely would have given up after three days and been found having drowned in a bathtub full of macaroni and cheese. Instead, I did the smart thing: I told my most critical friends about my plans. I am also now telling the internet, which means my pride and ego are truly in peril. My discipline exists in the crucible of public shame.

I’m also not doing it alone: it is impossible to do this program without a co-conspirator—someone with whom to plan, meal-prep, cook, and complain. An aligned, interested support network is necessary for any venture, doubly so when it affects lunch. My discipline exists on the shoulders of my closest supporters.

Finally, I think about the discipline of remembering to bring my own lunch. I have normally gone out to buy a lunch every day of the week. The math on what this costs me is deeply troubling for my budget. But it also turns into a huge time sink: the hours I spend in line trying to pay for tacos are not quality hours (either professionally or personally). The problem is that I tend to wake up with a long list of work tasks to accomplish and decide that I don’t have time to prepare a lunch for later in the day. But the time I would have spent cooking multiplies several times when it comes time to wander the skyway looking for food. By overvaluing my time in the morning, I undervalue it later in the afternoon.

So, to remind myself that a small investment early pays dividends in time savings later, I made a big sign for the inside of my front door.  It says, “GO GET YOUR LUNCH.  (You have time.  Turn around.).” Sometimes, my discipline exists in handwritten reminders to myself. It has, so far, been a surprisingly effective tactic. Maybe a few of my entrepreneurial clients can put up a sign on their door that reminds them of important things that appear to be lower priorities but can actually save them time and money in the long run (e.g. “CALL YOUR LAWYER BEFORE YOU FINALIZE THE TERMS OF THAT DEAL…”)?

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