If you’ve interacted with me very much in real life or online, you may wonder how I’m so fucking effective.
It is not because I was born into a rich family and given many advantages. I do have a lot of gratitude to my family, and they certainly did help me get to where I’m at. However, there is a secret to my success.
I figured out early on that action matters more than words. This insight is obvious, but most profound learnings sound simple.
As a software engineer, I’ve learned that the best way to solve a complex, ambiguous problem is to break the problem down into smaller problems that are easier to solve.
First, what do I want? What is my goal? If I don’t have a clear goal, it doesn’t matter how hard I try; I won’t get anywhere. It’s like sitting in a car flooring the gas pedal when the emergency brake is on and wondering why I’m not going anywhere.
Let’s say I want to start writing articles on my website and turn that into a business with more than $100 dollars in revenue per month.
This is a very complex problem. I could spend months researching Tim Ferriss’ ideas on how to start a business or get stuck in a clickbait hell learning from every fucking mailing list since the internet was founded. As a research problem, this could take forever. The trick is knowing when to stop researching and start doing.
Luckily, the answer is simple: always start by doing; research afterwards.
The hardest part is sitting down at your desk for the first time and writing 1000 words.
Why is it so hard to get started?
When you move any muscle, your brain has to create an electrical signal and send that signal down to the nerves in the muscles to cause them to twitch in the proper way to move.
When you have learned how to use your muscles, you often don’t have to consciously think about moving. You just do it, because the patterns of muscle activation are myelinated.
Actions that you perform repeatedly become habits. This manifests because neural pathways that get activated often become myelinated. This means that a fatty coating is layered around the neural pathway which makes electrical signals go through that pathway easier.
Changing your actions physically changes your brain over time.
I assume if you’re reading this you’ve been alive for at least 20 years. That means that 20 years of neuron activation patterns have been wired into your brain as repeatable patterns. You can change these activation patterns, but the longer you perform a set of actions, the more difficult it performs to perform a different set of actions.
This is where the term “muscle memory" comes from.
So why is it so hard to sit down at your desk and write 1000 words? It sounds simple, but you haven’t created the neural pattern in your brain for performing that action. It’s hard because you haven’t done it before.
You have created the neural pattern for sitting down at your desk and reading Wikipedia, or watching YouTube. So when you sit down at your desk, and your System 2 is telling you you’re about to write, but you end up browsing YouTube or Reddit for 3 hours instead, it’s because you’ve wired that pattern of stimulus and response into your brain.
This is everything you need to know to understand why my tactic for gaming this habit system works so damn well.
Forcing yourself to do things doesn’t work. It makes your body and System 1 hate your logical thinking side (System 2). Your body will rebel if you try to make yourself do things that don’t make your body feel good (like study, go on a diet, or start writing 1000 words a day).
This is why it’s essential to recognize that your System 2 (logical thinking side) wants you to go on a diet, start exercising, start reading more, play fewer video games, while your System 1 (animalistic instincts, intuition, habits) want you to keep eating hot wings, smoking weed, and playing video games (because it feels good to your body).
The only way to make any changes to your life over the longterm is to align what your body wants with your logical thinking sides desires.
Think of your body as being an intelligent child, and your logical thinking side as being an adult.
When the body does things that align with what your logical thinking side wants, reward your body with things that make it feel good, such as nicotine lozenges or chocolate.
This way, your body forms positive associations of feeling good when you read, study, or exercise.
Instead of trying to force yourself to go running, put on your exercise clothes, eat a square of chocolate, then go running.
Instead of trying to force yourself to learn how to program after work every day, try opening your computer to the coding video on Khanacademy, setting up your workspace, then take a nap. Once you wake up, sit down at your computer, put your headphones in, and press play on the video, eat a nicotine lozenge.
It really is this easy, but no one tells you these things growing up.
If you enjoy my writing, please donate BTC to 14HCAq7d4SKYVmp6EKyUrAQZM674pfMFNr.
- Action matters more than words.
- Break ambiguous problems down into small, simple problems.
- Start by doing; research afterwards.
- The hardest part is getting started.
- Align what your body wants with your logical thinking sides desires.
- Think of your body as being an intelligent child. How do you reward a kid?