0369 – skin in the game and growing up

I’ve read a lot about procrastination and akrasia over the years but one thing I’ve always resisted doing is using commitment devices. I think the main reason might be that I’ve been very cautious with money ever since I lost a bunch of it organizing a dud gig, and betting $100 (when I was living on $400/month and needed to repay a friend for aforementioned gig), and the idea of tying money to a verbal agreement of sorts just seemed off-putting.

But if I dig a little deeper I find that I’m not very consistent about that. I’m okay with buying things online that have recurring costs- I pay for workflowy even though I don’t use it nearly as much as I thought I was going to. (It’s still really useful though. But I should review/revisit that.) I feel like rescuetime might be worth paying for. Hey, I used to pay for a smoking habit and that never felt like a financial decision. Clearly my relationship with pricing and money is far more complex. I like to think I’m more rational than most but the heuristics I use are still fairly clunky.

The basic stuff is probably the most important- absolutely stay away from any sort of credit card debt or compound interest unless absolutely critically necessary. I was quite intent on paying for my airconditioning up front until my wife persuaded me that the monthly payments cost the same and wouldn’t put as much of a dent in our savings. But I’m still suspicious of monthly payments for things that aren’t miniscule. Actually even the miniscule stuff is a little worrying, but it’s less worrying than say, random impulse buys.

The only things I think I really buy on impulse are books, and usually these are books that I really want to read or really want to own. The option of having access to some books is important to me. How important exactly? Well important enough for me to buy them, evidently.

I also sometimes buy clothes or slippers and such in ways that frustrate my wife. I only buy them when I need them, but once I need them I tend to be happy to satisfice very quickly. So I might buy say 5 tshirts for $20 each and be satisfied with spending $100 in a few minutes. Excellent, I still have the rest of the day to do other things like read. (Or sit mindlessly on the Internet, which I pretty much always regret doing. I guess I should be more rigorous in “pricing” my time. Time spent exercising, reading, writing, that’s time well spent. Sleeping early is also time well spent. I slept early yesterday and intend to sleep early tonight. It has a huge impact on my mood. So I suppose I should list and “price” my behaviors. Random internet-ing typically puts me in a death spiral, like a moth to a flame. So I should avoid it unless I’m really saying “I have exhausted all other forms of rest / relaxation”. Which is bullshit. I’m better off playing guitar, or reading a book, or going for a walk with something interesting to listen to– a great album that I haven’t listened to yet, or a chat with my wife, or some motivational tapes or audio books, whatever. Random Interneting is one of the absolute worst uses of my time.

What else did I want to say, what else do I want to say? I feel like it’s time to grow up. I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time talking about growing up, and talking about wanting to grow up, and feeling sorry about the fact that I haven’t grown up, and doing lots of reading about what it’s like to grow up. But the thing I actually need to do is grow up. And I’m not sure if I’d have been able to grow up faster if I had done less reading, or maybe if I had done more of the reading in less amount of time. I suspect reading had very little to do with it. I think environment and context has more to do with it. I think stakes has more to do with it. I think you grow up when you take on stakes that are greater than what you’re comfortable with, and I don’t think you can ever truly adequately prepare for that.

It feels a little strange but I think that’s it. The worst suggestion in the world would be to ask somebody to have a child just so they can become more adult, but I’m sure there are loads of people who have children for worse reasons, or without thinking or planning about it. I’ve written blogposts about Odysseus and about burning bridges, but really doing that is something you can’t quite ask somebody to do. It’s irresponsible to ask somebody to quit everything, or to do something crazy, to be extreme. But isn’t that funny, this law-abiding, rule-abiding world we live in? We’re supposed to insure everything, never give too much away, never commit to too much… (and here I realize there must be something I’m missing, because I habitually DO commit to too much. Probably the problem is stakes. I just make empty promises, but I don’t commit like “buying airplane tickets” commit.)

So maybe everything should have stakes. Maybe I’m overthinking it. The most important thing for me right now is to finish this vomit ASAP and go to bed, so I can sleep early, wake early and crush tomorrow like a boss. And then the day after. And the week after that. There’s been a lot of talking and not a lot of doing. So it’s time for doing. And I suppose when I stop worrying about it so much I can do more.

A lot of this sounds very unverified, unvalidated, just general emotional mood stuff. But that’s okay for now, I’m just writing and publishing. The thing is to stick with it, to return to it the next day. I’ll write something else tomorrow. We’ll see.

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