Positive habits are underestimated

Dec 12 2020

<p>Positive habits are underestimated</p>

We, humans, tend to have a very tough time taking breaks and regenerating. We tend to set for ourself goals that are either too hard to achieve or straight up take too much of our time.

We have all been there. We decide to learn an additional skill, or we decided to lose that last weight that has been bringing us down.

The problem starts when we have outlined the goal, and we decide on the path of reaching it. We get motivated to start by motion which as a result, at the beginning we fill that we are superhumans. That can cause you to overestimate your free time and capabilities.

How many of us quit the gym completely, just because going there every day was not sustainable? How many of us stopped learning a new language because cramming study sessions on the weekends is not healthy and neither fun? Raise your hands. I know that I did both of those.

I have been a victim for underestimating how much time could the task take and the effort that will be required to finish it. I am raising a hand for that.

How human usually deal with no energy

So if you constantly do something too challenging, you are draining your energy instead of getting the boost of cognitive resources. That, of course, can not go forever and at one point you will realise that you are not able to do the task and even the idea of starting makes you want to do anything, but that.

That is the point at which people can either:

  1. Quit
  2. Preserver and quit in a week
  3. Take a break and quit in a month
  4. Change the task completely so that it is sustainable

As you could imagine, the 4th option is the optimal one. But it is also the one that is chosen the least.

If you have driven yourself to the point of hate, it will be tough to make you like the habit ever again.

The worst part of our lives is that this is an essential step in understanding how to become more efficient. I don’t know a single person that has become productive and coincidentally achieved greatness in life but hasn’t burned out at least once.

Why is that? It seems to start small and improve everything with little steps(which is proven to be the best way to achieve great goals), you have to fail in achieving something couple of times.

This knowledge is not programmed into our brain or genes. That is why we need to learn on our own mistakes to understand the right course of actions.

Why does this matter?

I understand that some people don’t want to do anything that is not immediately satisfactory. I understand that good habits are boring and not fun at all.

The main reason they are not fun is that the effect and the result are postponed so much into the future that our brain, due to smartphones and social media, has been reprogrammed to expect low-cost dopamine hits in everything that we do.

Why do people still perform good, boring habits, then?

Because in the long run, the total amount of dopamine that you get will increase with every time you do the task, and eventually it will snowball into the most amazing feeling you will ever experience.

Writing a chapter of a book is boring and most likely is extremely unrewarding. You spent your time researching, writing and editing. It was super boring and maybe even painful. There is literally no dopamine there.

But, once you write your book, the combined effect of all the sessions will hit your right in the face with the most amazing and happy feeling ever. Maybe even that book will let you retire and become the happiest human on earth, who knows?

progress vs happiness

The thing is that every good habit is like this. Don’t underestimate what you can achieve by just doing the right thing, consistently.

Start now. Get perfect later.

Klim Y