It's funny how difficult pickup can be. Not even the part about attracting girls, but just pushing yourself to go out there and do it. On Monday I wasn't able to.
I had just spent the weekend at Real Social Dynamics' Hot Seat 2, which, frankly, is an amazing program. Tyler comes in with nine hours of hidden camera footage, and plays it for the audience while pausing to explain what's going on.
I learned a ton and was properly inspired, but Tyler's approach is definitely not the easy way out. Instead of rolling up to a girl with an indirect opener, you walk up, make eye contact, and say hi. This sounds easy, but in practice it's scary because you're putting your ego on the line every time, making it trivially easy to be rejected.
So on Monday I went out to the mall to try it. It was the first time I'd been out in the day (for pickup) in a solid month, since we'd been going out at night instead. I did one approach, and then kicked myself for the next hour and a half and did nothing. My brain was looking for, and found, every single reason not to do it. She's too attractive-- start off easier. She's not attractive enough-- you don't want it to go well. She's walking-- she wouldn't stop anyway. She's standing still-- it looks too obvious.
Pickup has forced me to fail in a way that, honestly, had become foreign to me. I'm used to failures being situations where I tried, but couldn't quite hack it, or maybe something happened that I didn't want to happen, but I brushed it off and kept moving. Pickup was putting me in situations so stressful that I was failing at a core level-- failing to get myself to do things that I didn't want to do, even though I knew they were best for me.
This was a wake up call. I sat in my RV that night and pondered how I could possibly achieve all that I want to achieve without mastering the skill of forcing myself to do things that I don't want to do. The truth is that, for the most part, my life is a collection of things that I DO want to do.
So I decided that for two weeks, as punishment for not meeting my goals for the day, I would not do anything fun. The only activities I'm allowed to do are: pickup, work, eat, play violin, meditate, and read after midnight. I'm also allowed to play one round of Words With Friends every morning because that's how I keep in touch with some of my family. I blocked pretty much every web site that I like from my computer.
Beyond that, I printed up a daily schedule for myself (the blurry white thing next to my monitor in the picture), which includes waking up with an alarm every morning and turning my computer off at midnight. As an additional point of leverage, I decided that if on any day I didn't approach at least five girls in a proper manner, I would have to pay $500.
I've been on the schedule for three days, and already it's paying off. The first day on the schedule I approached five girls, and the next day I approached eight. My brain has started to realize that this type of approach (which I'd never really done before now) isn't as bad as it thought it was.
Besides pickup, I've gotten a lot done. I've committed four times as much code to SETT as I had the previous week, and I still have three more days in the week. I learned a new song on the violin (nothing very impressive... I'm a complete beginner), have kept my RV immaculately clean, and have meditated and three days in a row for the first time ever.
The first day of this schedule was a little bit depressing, but once the results started to come in by the next day, I found that I actually liked the schedule. It's nice being on top of everything, having a clean RV, and using my time effectively.
I may ease up on the schedule when April first comes around, but I doubt I'll dump it entirely. Or, at least, I'll figure out some way to continue to restrict my access to fun. All of the time I would have spent browsing Reddit, or going out for dinner, or whatever I used to do is now being funneled towards really good projects. Other than when I'm on a programming tear and literally doing nothing but programming and sleeping, these past few days have been the least wasteful I can remember. There's a lot of power in being a ruthless prioritizer, dumping things you would like to do for things that you really should do.
I know some people are getting a bit sick of pickup stuff. Even though it's inspired by pickup, hopefully this post as seen as being more about managing time than hollering at girls. On April first I'll scale back pickup and will probably not be writing about it anymore.
I did something really scary and dangerous today. I let myself quit.
It's the second day of my Month-of-Pickup, an intensive course correction aimed towards making myself extraverted and social again.
Yesterday was the first day. My friend and I set a goal of doing eight approaches each. We did it just as the mall closed, running around frantically looking for girls to approach. I was scared going in, but left feeling good.
You can't control definitively whether you'll succeed or fail, but you do get to set the parameters. The way I live my life, I will either be an big success or a huge failure. There are a variety of potential paths ahead of me, and zero of them lead to comfortable success or minor failure. None of them lead to numb mediocrity.
How do you adjust these parameters? You set goals and accept risks. If you set goals low and don't accept many risks, you have no chance of huge success or huge failure. You'll end up somewhere in the middle. Maybe you'll end up a bit better off than you expected, or a bit down on your luck, but you'll be somewhere in the range of "fine". On the other hand, you can set extremely high goals, leave yourself no reasonable plan B, and take massive risks to get those goals. It's the only way you'll even reach them, but you may fall short and crash.
In my case, I've put all of my eggs in the SETT basket. I hope it becomes a huge success that makes me a lot of money, gives me some power to improve conversation on the internet, and all that. At this point I've invested two years of my life into it, with no plans of changing that allocation going forward. I've passed up many smaller opportunities that could have made me money. I do have some money saved up, but it's hard to count it as a backup plan when I know with certainty that if SETT failed I'd use it to start another company and go all in.
I work as smart as I can, I live frugally, and I plan for contingencies-- I'm not reckless, but when a calculated risk presents itself, I'm all over it.