0147 – if it works, do you accelerate it?

This was started on Jan 2014, and completed today.

If you know that something is changing, and it seems to be a good thing- in achieving your outcomes- should you make an effort to accelerate it? I guess. This can’t be context-independent, right? It depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Your broader vision and purpose, if you have any, come into play. That’s why it’s reasonably important to have some sort of vague plan. Explore curiosity and be useful to people. That’s mine, it mirrors Neil Tyson’s and it’s good enough to me.

Upturn the Downturn

So what am I curious about? I don’t care right now that’s not interesting to me at the moment. (Heh.) What’s interesting to me right now is to figure out how to get out of what feels like a “downturn” and get into “the zone” again. I used to do 2 word vomits a day, I’d like to get back into that groove. How?

Think Big But Work Small

First I need to do small things. I’m burdened needlessly by big plans and big ambitions that are too large to chew on. I just keep them around as psychological clutter to make me feel better about myself. I need to discard all of them and focus on what I can do each day.

I suggested to the wife that we do a “daily review” of our days every night before we go to bed. Today will only be the second day but I’m inordinately excited about it because I think it’s an elegant solution to multiple problems. I think it will stick. (7 months later: No, it hasn’t. I think we’re generally in the right direction, but progress has been cumbersome and slow, and boring.) We both need more positive peer pressure from each other, we need to kinda “align” each other better,  I think a daily, deliberate discussion will help. I’m looking forward to it.

You know but you don’t know

It always seems like I already know everything I need to know about what I ought to do. I haven’t read a single piece of advice lately that resonated with me. This is relatively new, and I think it stems from the fact that I have “so much” life experience now (a drop in the bucket, I know) that I will learn more from analysing my own experience than from reading generalised stuff. Or maybe not. I need to start from the basics again- sleep, write, read. I just need better reading diets. Less random online nonsense, more deliberate selections. I need to keep clearing old drafts and keep shipping little things, if only just to get them out of my skull. Whatever works, man.

No grand ideas. No big ambitions. The only task at hand is self mastery. To fulfill my obligations. Today I committed to being early for work, which I was. I kept repeating to myself that I had to jump out of bed when my alarm went off, and I did. Whoopee! I need to grease that groove and set it in stone.

I can surely increase my output, I just need to make my days more deliberate.

Peer groups

Let’s talk peer groups. I’m beginning to suspect that my peers have defined me more than I have defined myself.

I think I have been more susceptible to peer pressure than I realise. I think my peers influence my behaviour more than I influence my own, commitment devices notwithstanding. [1]

Consider this. I picked up smoking because my band mates were smokers. I largely quit smoking because my colleagues are non-smokers. And while it feel good to claim that I quit smoking for my health and whatnot- if my boss brought out a pack and offered me a cigarette, you bet your ass I’d be right back on the cancer train.

How much is this valid, how much does it take? I think it gets complicated because er typically have multiple peer groups at any one time and we can sorta switch between them- and even in within a particular group we might have a particular identity. I never felt shamed by my tamil class to do my tamil homework. Actually many of them liked me for it, because time the teacher spent scolding me was time that they could sit back and relax.

But I’ve betrayed peer groups before… (I bail on people. It’s a horrible problem, incredibly selfish and hurtful of me). But I’ll rationalise that by saying that I didn’t think of them as “true peers”. I think Quora and my colleagues are two examples of peers that I aspire towards, in the sense that I’m very eager to impress them. I mean, I love receiving praise from anyone, but these are people whose opinions kinda go further with me.

I think thinking about my colleagues is an interesting example. I love my colleagues very much, and I’m eager to impress them, help and support them, to contribute to the team and see us all achieve something remarkable. Despite this, I sometimes catch myself being tardy with my work. I think that’s a clear proof that I have internal issues that go beyond the “oh, if you’re not crazy about work it means you haven’t found the right work” idea. Procrastination runs deep into my heart, beyond environment. I procrastinate even doing the things I love. So only I can fix that.

Notes:

[1] On commitment devices: I have often if not always sabotaged my own commitment devices. I didn’t really study for my A levels even though I paid for it with my own money. I didn’t train for my half marathon even though I signed up. In both cases perhaps just taking the initial action felt good and I didn’t follow up.

What was missing? What would I have needed to do to followup? Is it simply the case that both the A Levels and a half-marathon strike me as fundamentally unsound, not worth bothering with? Or could I still rearrange my life and elements in a way that would make me do the things that I say I want to do? Can I combat akrasia, or is it simply a sign that something bigger is wrong?

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