The Lesson My Toothbrush Taught Me
Thank you for looking into watching our live event – The Switch That Could Make You Rich: How One Simple Move Could Hand You 10X Profits in 5 Years or Less – which will air on Monday, July 17 at 1 p.m. EDT.
Before then, I have some “secrets” I’d like to share with you, so be sure to watch your inbox for a couple of notes from me over the next few days. If you miss any, check in at back here regularly. Everything we’ll be right here.
Let’s get started with a confession…
Anyone who knows me reasonably well would call me a disciplined person.
I hardly ever call in sick to work…
I’m always on time and fully prepared for meetings…
And I can sit at my computer screens for hours on end without so much as blinking.
On the personal side, I’ve been committed to the same woman – my wife – for the last 15 years.
I exercise at least five days a week…
And only occasionally drink alcohol.
So, a casual observer would never think I have a problem with discipline. But I absolutely do!
My wife bought me an electric toothbrush a couple years ago. My struggles with it gave me the most valuable insights ever into my own personal battle with self-discipline.
I Struggle When I’m Bored
You see, this electric toothbrush was designed to be “fool-proof.” Not even a fool could mess it up.
Well, I did…
You see, the contraption is electronically programmed to turn off exactly two minutes after it’s turned on (that’s the recommended time for a proper tooth-brushing session).
More so, it gives the user three prompts along the way – unmistakable vibrations, spaced at 30-second intervals, meant to tell you to move the brush to the next quadrant of your mouth.
The sequence is designed to go like this:
- Turn on toothbrush, movie it around the lower-left quadrant of teeth
- Move it around the upper-left quadrant of teeth
- Move it around the upper-right quadrant of teeth
- Move it around the lower-right quadrant of teeth
[toothbrush turns itself off]
Like I said, the toothbrush is thoughtfully designed to be fool-proof.
It’s a system, so to speak, that removes all decision-making responsibility from the user. All you have to do is follow the system… and two minutes later you’ve received a proper brushing.
And I had the hardest time ever following this simple system!
First, I found myself rarely lasting the full two minutes. I’d get bored… then impatient… and then downright agitated. And I immediately got into the habit of manually shutting off the toothbrush before it automatically shut off at the two-minute mark.
Further, I completely ignored the 30-second vibration prompts.
I didn’t even go quadrant by quadrant in any particular order… I’d just move the toothbrush all around my mouth – hitting all the spots – but in a random, haphazard fashion.
Frankly, I was being a complete fool… and proving the toothbrush was not, in fact, fool-proof!
Here I am… with advanced degrees and a knack for successfully navigating complex financial markets… and I couldn’t even follow the simple system programmed into an electronic toothbrush!
Frankly, I did this for many weeks before finally confronting my failure and, more importantly, gaining two valuable insights into my struggles with discipline – both of which I now believe to be universal.
Boredom is painful
I hate being bored.
That’s the main reason I had such a hard time following the toothbrush system.
But I’m not special in this regard – I think most people are uncomfortable with the feeling of boredom.
We’re wired to prefer stimulation… and to be entertained.
When well-worn routines go on for too long, we tend to get antsy… and we seek out something that’s novel.
Novel stimulation pings our brains with dopamine, giving us a rush of feel-good energy, like what we get from sex… drugs… rock-and-roll… alcohol… exercise… sunshine… a new love interest.
Boredom and routine give us none of that… no stimulation, no excitement, no fun!
And that was my problem with the toothbrush – it was a mundane routine that gave me nothing to think about or do. It was boring as hell!
Discipline Can Be Strengthened
Let’s face it, we don’t have the luxury of avoiding everything in life that we find to be boring.
Grocery shopping, exercising, and teeth-brushing… these can all be extremely boring. Yet, they’re all are completely necessary toward living a productive and healthy life.
So how do you force yourself to do something you find boring, when you know it’s for your own good?
There’s no easy solution. You’ve just got to do it… and that, of course, requires discipline.
The good news is, if you want to be more disciplined… you can work to develop it.
It’s like a muscle…
If you want it to be stronger, you train it to be stronger and, with time, it becomes stronger.
I’ve heard this about discipline for many years, but it never quite hit home until I struggled through my ridiculous behavior with that stupid toothbrush.
Long story short, I now use the toothbrush exactly as it’s intended to be used.
But, embarrassingly, it took me many weeks of “training” to get to this point.
I first set an interim goal for myself: Last the full two minutes, even if you don’t follow the “quadrant prompts.”
Even after I committed to this goal, I was surprised by how hard it was to resist the urge to shut it off early. I spent three weeks consciously resisting the urge, which indeed weakened over time… and is now (nearly) nonexistent.
Then, once I was consistently hitting the two-minute mark, I began training myself to adhere to the quadrant prompts. This took longer than the previous phase, but I eventually accomplished my goal of sticking to the entire “toothbrush system” the manufacturer had designed for me, with my best-health interest in mind.
“What an epic accomplishment,” I thought to myself, sarcastically!
Although, while I can lightheartedly chide myself about my struggles with this toothbrush discipline, I truly gained a meaningful boost in self-confidence… in my ability to stay disciplined to a healthy routine (even as boring as it still is)!
If you’ve ever stuck to the daily activities required to reach a long-term goal – that is, if you’ve ever consistently exercised your “discipline muscle” – then I’m sure you know the feeling of pride and accomplishment you gain from sustained commitment.
One day of discipline exercise may not give you a dopamine rush. But many consecutive days of discipline exercise sure can – even well before you reach your ultimate, long-term goal.
In my case, I don’t yet know whether my discipline will pay off, in the form of being able to avoid dentures when I’m 70. In theory, it will… but only time will tell.
But even well before that outcome, I feel better about myself and my toothbrush habit… because I know that following the system is the right thing to do and, just as importantly, I know I’m sufficiently disciplined to do the right thing… day in, day out… even if the fruits of my discipline won’t be revealed for many years.
That’s the meaningful benefit of “discipline training” that can be enjoyed relatively quickly.
It’s exactly the same with investing. To get the most out of your efforts, you need to find a system that can deliver what you want.
But for the full bang for your buck, you need the discipline to stick to the strategy, otherwise it’ll do nothing for you.
It’s been said that, “At the heart of any successful person is self-discipline.”
I couldn’t agree more.
And the best part is anyone can develop the self-discipline needed to follow my simple investment strategies… and become a tremendously successful investor.
P.S. Mark your calendar for Monday, July 17th at 1 p.m. so you don’t miss our special live event. If something comes up, don’t worry. We’ll rebroadcast at 7 p.m. EDT).