Notes: The Laziness Paradox and possible cures

I have first read this article written by Scott Young through the link Raam Dev shared. I found out that this is one of the things we all do and fail drastically and then reject the idea that we can actually improve or change something in our life.

These are the portions from the article I liked most and reflected upon –

This advantage of confidence may explain why people are so overconfident. Despite the media cries about low self-esteem, most people tend to believe they’re above average in everything. In fact, there’s some evidence that the more realistic self-estimate is associated with depression. Evolution may have hardwired us for our own self-deception.

The weakness of confidence is when you’re forming concrete, short-term plans. These occur on such small timescales that you’re unlikely to reap any of the benefit of your inadvertent boasting, so being too ambitious can actually hurt you.

My friend’s fitness goal is a clear example. He, like most people, was overconfident about his ability to make behavior changes in a short time. By trying to accomplish much less in the short-term, his chances for lasting long-term change goes up dramatically.

Recently I have been doing a challenge of 8 eBooks in 8 days challenge. Even if I know it is almost impossible to achieve, I have set it with a mindset that I can actually do that. The upside of this challenge is – even if I can only achieve a little part of the challenge, I will be able to put down something on the paper that is beyond my comfort zone. But the downside is – I may get disheartened by the result and will never do anything like that again.

Regarding the passage, I think, what he said works best when we practice any habits or want to change any area of our life. But in regards to challenges, it is a good thing to attempt and always push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

**

This may sound depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing that your conscious control is weak is actually tremendously helpful. It means that instead of constantly chastising yourself and making excuses when you fail, you can uncover and tweak the true generators of your behavior.

For me, the biggest change in my life happened when I stopped trying to accomplish everything at once. I realized that I’m actually incredibly lazy—most of what I do has to do with habits and trivial stimuli, rather than deep thoughts.

Instead of trying to change every behavior at once, I would pick something incredibly small and simple and focus on it for an entire month. Even that can be difficult, but it meant I could make a change almost habitual before I tried something else.

This is sound advice. I have experimented with it and found that this method of concentrating on only one small thing works.

**

In my short-term to-do lists and projects I strive to be modest. My agenda is usually far less ambitious than my friends, even in cases where my track record is better than theirs.

Though I often fall in the trap of trying to achieve a lot in short period of time (except challenges), the frequency is now lesser than before. I have been trying to be modest in my to-do list and plan to achieve only one thing every day. If I have completed that one thing in that day, I am successful.

**

The truth is, most people make two errors in their judgement. They are overly optimistic in the short-term, because inherent overconfidence and the illusion of control convince them they can achieve more than they can. But people are also too unimaginative about the future—we tend to imagine the future as mostly resembling the present.

I’ve made these two errors again and again before realizing what works and what doesn’t. Read these lines again and again to get the idea.

**

I suggest two cures: first, acknowledge your short-term laziness more. If you know you’re lazy, you can work around it. Most people don’t because we like to think of ourselves as being industrious and in control, not easily manipulated automatons. Second, be more imaginative about the future, even small ripples can turn into big waves over time.

These cures are the answers to difficulties we face while setting a deadline for ourselves regarding our improvement score. Summary of these lines are – Set small goals (smaller than you think you can achieve) and don’t underestimate the power of momentum (in time your small effort can yield big dividends).

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