Planning, planning, planning. On a journey such as NoFap, planning helps us to better navigate our lives. Planning helps us to identify goals. It helps us to identify any problems that might come up and take measures as appropriate. It’s true that even the best laid plans go awry. But is that really an excuse to not make any plans at all? NoFap 101 – identify your triggers. PMO is a cycle, it needs to be set into motion by a series of triggers. When you know what triggers your cycle (e.g. a particular place, situation, sensation), you can actively plan around it. Sticking to the plan helps break the cycle and stop PMO perpetuating itself once more. I’ll use myself as an example. The nature of my job means that I’m often at home for an hour or so around lunchtime. I quite like it when this happens, it’s a peaceful spot away from the crowds. I have an apartment to myself, my girlfriend is still at work. Unfortunately, it’s also a perfect opportunity for an afternoon relapse in the privacy and comfort of my apartment. Quite often, this afternoon break would leave me vulnerable to relapse. Fapstronauts sometimes speak of the scumbag-brain. I love this expression. This is where your dopamine-starved brain does its best to convince your rational brain to relapse. It tries to lead you into a vulnerable situation where relapsing becomes much easier. It uses rationalisations such as: “Oh come on, if you look at a few still photos what’s the worst that could happen? As long as you keep your hands out of your pants, you’re fine! That doesn’t count as a relapse… I promise!” “I’m so proud of myself - a whole week PMO free! Time to reward myself…” Minutes later you find yourself drowning in a relapse watching that streak slip away. The scumbag brain has struck again, and you are back to square one. I have found that the simple act of planning ahead has proven itself to be highly effective in breaking the PMO cycle. Every morning/evening I take the time to review the day to come. In my reboot journal (a simple book of A4 paper), I identify the times and places where triggers are most likely to occur. Where will I be at noon? The afternoon? How long will I be home alone? Let’s say that my afternoon looks like this: · 12-3:30 PM: Work · 4 PM: I come home · 5:30 PM: Girlfriend comes home Notice how I have 90 minutes home alone? This is what I call a “relapse window”. Immediately, this calls for EVASIVE ACTION! Imagine you’re the captain aboard the SS Reboot, now a PMO torpedo has been sighted off the starboard bow! Impact imminent! Lieutenant Scumbag says “Bah, it’s miles away, captain. We’ll be fine, it’ll miss us.” But how many times has Lieutenant Scumbag been wrong in the past? How many times has his judgement been responsible for the loss of your streaks and the deaths of billions of your ‘little sailors’? Do you really want to put your reboot into his hands? Do you want to leave it up to chance? Or will you take the helm and steer clear of impending danger? Every time you make a plan to identify when trigger situations arise, you can spot those PMO torpedoes when they’re still miles away from your reboot. You can then take evasive action, planning your day accordingly and sometimes eradicating the chances of a relapse entirely. My 90 minutes free after work? How about a session at the gym? If possible, I’d even take my gym gear to work with me to avoid my apartment altogether. But what if I still somehow end up back in the apartment all alone? What if I live alone? If you’re serious about your reboot, REALLY serious, you will go to any length to stay clean. Sometimes this can mean some pretty extreme or even bizarre behaviour to make sure you keep a relapse at bay throughout a relapse window. Picture this: I’m home alone all evening. I stay away from the apartment for as long as I can, I go to the gym, visit a friend, whatever. But inevitably I need to come back to my apartment to sleep. Perhaps being alone all night is your trigger situation, the loneliness and boredom is what sets the PMO cycle in motion. Something that works for me is what I call “hard measures”. I put all of my internet access devices into a bag (phone, laptop, tablet – everything) and I lock them away in my apartment’s private cellar 3 floors down. I know it’s safe there, nobody can steal it. And more importantly, I’ve just removed temptation from my path – out of sight, out of mind. And going to retrieve this stuff is inconvenient as hell, I’ve never had an urge so unbearable that it’s made me get dressed, leave my cosy apartment to walk 3 flights of stairs and hunt through a cold cellar. These hard measures are written into my daily plan. I know exactly what action I need to take in order to avoid a relapse during a high-risk period. All I need to do is follow the plan. No bullshit excuses like: “What if someone calls me? What about my WhatsApp? My phone is my alarm clock? But I want to watch series!” That’s the scumbag brain talking. Get a landline number, get an alarm clock – our ancestors lived thousands of years without such nonsense just fine. And most importantly, ask yourself just how important NoFap is to you. How bad do you want change? Are your technology habits a trigger? Do they lead you into high-risk situations? What can you replace them with? I’d love to hear what you guys think of this. Anything you’d like to add? Anything I’ve missed out? My NoFap journey will never be over and I’m always happy to learn what works for other Fapstronauts. Your contributions are always welcome.