Today I’ll continue with the the key mindsets that inform everything I write here.
Mindset 4: Work with human psychology, not against it
Most advice, from fitness to diet to personal finance to productivity, is not crafted with actual people in mind.
This is particularly true with things like discipline and motivation. These things are important, but most advice requires a lot of each and just assumes they are there.
As we all know, they often aren’t.
It’s far better to establish systems that minimize the need for finite resources like discipline, motivation, and energy.
Better yet, figure out how to both limit the need for scarce resources and increase your supply.
In fact, one key theme I will return to repeatedly is that when you’ve got an important resource, you should figure out how to need less of it and how to get more it.
Now, this might seem too obvious to mention, but in practice, deliberately thinking about it this way is very effective.
This is mostly because it usually isn’t realistic to either dramatically increase something or decrease the need for it, but a little of each is usually very doable and the combination leads to dramatic results.
Imagine it this way. Say you have a side project that you care about, but don’t work much on.
For example, maybe you’re trying to write a book.
Most people would agree is that the best way to make progress is to work on it a little bit every day, on most days of the week.
For most of us, we’re unlikely to do any work at all, not even a little bit, unless we either have to (as our day jobs require), or have extra energy to spare.
So imagine you have a side project you’ve planned on starting, or started and work in spurts but not enough to gain traction. Usually the reason is that at the end of the day, you don’t quite have enough energy to feel like tackling it.
So you don’t.
For months and years.
Instead, imagine you figured out a mental trick to get yourself to be able to work on it when you “sort of felt like it,” as opposed to feeling really motivated. Maybe you only sort of feel like it 1-3 days a week.
But that’s more than you were doing, which was approximately zero days per week.
Then, further imagine that you figured out a way to be a little more energetic – not the energizer bunny, but say, rather than usually being tired at the end of the workday and only wanting to watch TV, you felt “pretty good” most days.
Suddenly you “sort of feel like” your side project 4-5 days a week and that’s all you need to actually do some work on it.
Two small changes, a little bit lower energy threshold to work, and a little bit more energy most days, and suddenly you’ve gone from being able to do side project work once every two weeks or less to consistently about 5 days a week.
And that is usually enough to make a lot of progress.
Mindset 5: No “try harder”
This is really just a special case of the previous mindset, but it’s important enough for its own section.
Telling someone to try harder usually doesn’t work. Either they’re lazy, and they won’t listen, or they’re already trying hard and you aren’t adding anything.
I try to stick with actionable advice. I will assume you’re already trying to put in work, and my job is to help you understand what’s going on so you put all that work towards the right things.
As much as possible, I try to give you advice that you can start applying NOW and see results right away.
This is not to say that I can make everything easy – far from it – but it is VASTLY easier to keep putting in the work when you can feel the progress right away.
…and more to come
High level concepts and mindsets serve to organize advice into a deeper and more useful understanding. There’s a lot more that I will talk about, but much of it fits under one or more of these general mindsets.
Making all the specifics hang together is critical for a real understanding, which is important for you to get the most value out of what you learn here and adapt it to/extend it for your own needs.
Also, to get lots of juicy specifics, sign up for my email newsletter. In addition to updates, a lot of my most specific advice only appears there.