When you waste time, you waste away your life, and there is no worse feeling. Each and every single person reading this has something special in them. What will you do to seek it?
Eliud Kipchoge joined the INEOS earlier this year with one goal: run a marathon in under two hours. Kipchoge practiced for over 6 months in preparation for the official 1:59 attempt set at Vienna, Austria. Going into this event, Kipchoge is a two-time 5000m Olympic Champion, 5000m World Champion, has won 11 of his 12 marathons and is the current marathon world record holder with a time of 2:01:39. On the morning of October 12, 2019, with over 25,000 people in attendance, Kipchoge achieved the impossible, completing his marathon in an eye-opening 1:59:40.2. In Steve Landells’s article, Eliud Kipchoge achieves his moon-landing moment, Bernard Lagat (one of Eliud’s pacers) says, “He worked so hard for it and inspired us. It is something special. Eliud proved no human was limited and he did it.”
Through hard work, self discipline, and sacrifice, Eliud Kipchoge’s historic run is nothing short of awe-inspiring not only to the running community, but to everyone who has ever dreamt about achieving something marvelous. We have the resources necessary to prove to ourselves that #NoHumanIsLimited, but will our distraction-filled world prevent us from ever reaching our eudaemonia? As long as we harness the following tactics, the answer will always be no.
Let’s begin with the piece of technology that has single-handedly stolen millions of hours of time since it was conceived 12 years ago: the smartphone. I am a smartphone enthusiast, but I cannot disagree with the notion that smartphones suck away our time. Why wouldn’t they? These devices carry our identity. They hold all of our account usernames and passwords, our credit card information, our contacts, our photos, and our location. Our phones are like our own external hard drive: they hold all of the extra yet vital information that we do not have room to memorize.
It’s no wonder why we are addicted to our phones: they represent us. As Adam Greenfield says in his article, A Sociology of the Smartphone, “[Smartphones] have altered the texture of everyday life just about everywhere, digesting many longstanding spaces and rituals in their entirety, and transforming others beyond recognition.” Our phones are not only changing our identity, but our world’s identity as well, and as brilliant as that may seem, it’s not always for the better.
In order to achieve our eudaemonia, or our full human potential, we must be fully concentrated and engaged in a high level of deep work on a subject that we really care about and want to expand our knowledge on. Unfortunately, our smartphones are not well suited for an area of deep concentration, as numerous studies have shown that “the mere presence of a smartphone reduces a person’s ability to focus.” If our smartphone was present during a deep work session, we would become so distracted that it wouldn’t even be worth continuing the session. This is where the question of sacrifice arises. Are you willing to sacrifice your smartphone, the one object that defines you, for a few hours a day in order to work towards your dreams? Would you put down your phone if it meant you would be breaking limits?
While everybody wants to answer “yes,” simply sacrificing our smartphone may be too hard for some people. Adam Gazzaley, writer of Remedies for the Distracted Mind, describes that the “major problem in completing critical assignments, especially on a computer, is the constant availability of that most sought-after commodity: information.” Our problem is that we consume so much information that we sometimes forget that we need to be information creators as well.
Your smartphone is not the only thing that requires sacrifice when engaging in a level of depth required to output results as incredible as Kipchoge’s sub two-hour marathon. According to Cal Newport‘s Deep Work, a monastic philosophy of depth “maximizes deep efforts by eliminating or radically minimizing shallow obligations.” This means that alongside your smartphone, you will have to give up all communication to the outside world, your location, your family members, and more for an extended period of time solely dedicated to your deep work. Personally, I feel that this lifestyle is for those who have nothing else to lose and are ready to “go big or go home.” For everyone else, the bimodal, rhythmic, and journalistic philosophies of depth are available, allowing for short bursts of deep work throughout the day while still enjoying the rest of the day to yourself. Only during the deep work sessions are you forced to isolate yourself from any connection in order to ensure the greatest and most efficient level of output towards your projects.
Eudaemonia is still possible in today’s world, even with all of the distractions going on everywhere you look. Despite all of the studies suggesting that phones have taken permanent damage to our brain’s cognitive capacity, we are still able to enter a state of deep work provided we rid ourselves of any distractions that would slow down the depth production. My final question to you: what would you have to do to become the next Eliud Kipchoge?