NYT Columnist David Brooks writing about “The Art of Focus” back in 2014:
If you want to win the war for attention, don’t try to say ‘no’ to the trivial distractions you find on the information smorgasbord; try to say ‘yes’ to the subject that arouses a terrifying longing, and let the terrifying longing crowd out everything else.
There are whole books written about The Power of No, but I wouldn’t discount how our environments shape our behavior. Whether or not willpower is muscle or decision fatigue is real, there are plenty of data to show that making suboptimal activities harder improves outcomes in a variety of contexts.
I can tell you, for example, that the proximity of a Panera to one of the imaging centers I work at is not helping me make good lunch choices (bread bowls are my kryptonite).
But Brooks does reframe the classic “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” adage to make it more approachable.
I think “find your passion” is generally terrible meaningless advice in most circumstances. If you have one, great. But if you don’t, it’s not exactly straightforward to meditate for a few minutes, analyze your innermost desires, and manifest your calling.
However, there’s also no denying that having a “pull” to do something (say, teaching others or writing) is the antidote to other less impactful activities. If you are drawn to something that matches your desired identity and goals, then it automatically makes it easier to avoid the “trivial distractions.”
As in, it’s easier to focus when you don’t want to escape the thing you’re trying to do.