When I was a kid, my parents would tell me to do something reasonable like clean my room. I'd probably do it, or at least make a token effort. Sometimes I wouldn't do it, and my mom would do it for me. Or maybe I'd be out at school and she'd be sick of me having a messy room, so she'd just clean it without asking me to do it first. In school I'd be assigned stuff to do. Usually I'd do it, but when I didn't, there weren't really any consequences. I'd get worse grades, but the impact of one assignment on a grade always seemed so tiny, and I never really cared about grades beyond not getting in trouble with my parents.
I got used to the idea that if I was supposed to do something, but didn't do it, it didn't really matter. Maybe someone else would just do it for me, or maybe the problem would just go away. There are probably a million different reasons that people procrastinate, but this was probably the biggest one for me. It wasn't that I thought that I would prefer to do something later-- it's that I sort of subconsciously thought that if I didn't do it now, maybe I'd never have to do it.
In real life, though, this isn't how things work. If I don't do something right now that needs to get done, then I'm going to need to do it later.
I remember the first time I came face to face with this. Two thousand three was the first year I made a significant amount of money gambling online. I think it may have also been the first year my parents stopped filing taxes for me. They told me to take care of my taxes and even told me how to take care of them. April fifteenth came around, and I kept thinking about how I should realy get to those taxes, knowing I wasn't actually going to do them. On the sixteenth, taxes felt just like a missed assignment. Too late to do anything about it now!
A couple years went by and I got a letter from the IRS. They noticed that I hadn't paid taxes, and they wanted a lot of money. I had to hire a tax attorney, file an amended return, and pay a lot of money. Procrastination had cost me money and headache. I actually flew all the way to New York just to work with a Tax Attorney who knew a lot about gambling income.
Since then I do my taxes every year-- no extensions or anything like that. Just sit down and file, because I learned a lesson: I'm going to be the one doing the work anyway, and it's only going to get harder.
This applies to hassles like taxes and tickets and registrations, but it also applies to work and learning, too. Any time I find myself not wanting to write some big chunk of code for SETT, I remind myself that I'm going to be the one writing it anyway-- may as well just get it over with.
Same with learning. At some point I realized that my Japanese was just languishing, not really getting better and not really getting worse. I thought-- you know-- you're either going to learn Japanese in your lifetime or you're not. Either way, you're going to be the one flipping the flashcards. So decide to give it up or start working on it every day and actually get better. Every day now I learn 10 new words, which doesn't sound like all that much, and really is only about 30 minutes of work, but it's the difference between no new words per year or 3650 new words per year.
Have a bunch of stuff you "really should" deal with? Sit down today and get it done. Avoiding some tough work? Sit down today and just get started on it. Want to learn something, but keep putting it off (sometimes for YEARS!)? Sit down and do a lesson today, and commit to doing a lesson every single day. You're going to be the one doing the work anyway-- may as well just get it done.
Photo is a watercolor of bok choy in the Asian Art Museum in SF. I love that someone painted bok choy.
As promised, here are posts from the new batch of SETT blogger. I haven't read them all, but several of the posts were really good. I'm going to have to make it so that the SETT front page automatically features the latest/best posts on SETT.
No particular order:
Day 4 is the Day FOR fun (his fourth day on raw food)
If I missed your blog, send me a PM. Some posts looked like test posts, so I didn't include them, and my method of finding these posts in the database was sort of strange.
Like attracts like and I'm not too surprised they make up the bulk. Since a lot of the posts/comments/concepts are of that type people with those blogs are more likely to advertise here since they are reaching a congruent audience. I could start a SETT but I'd feel somewhat out of place linking here with my 'we can do better' rants on a lot of issues and my nerdy interests such as dwarf fortress (and whatever else happens to tickle my fancy at a certain point in time).
Personally I see SETT as more of a node hub in the future that destroys the need for many disjoint individuals to create lowly traffic'd personal blogs. Instead of you making a blog with stuff you like that no one cares about and stuff I like that no one cares about maybe one day we can abandon both and just join a SETT hub regarding things we have in common. Then we could both post our own stuff on community and since we're part of a node hub now we'd get a LOT more readers than if we were just disjoint blogs. Thus a community is birthed from a bunch of unknown individual blogs. The most successful and popular or fringe-like of the posts would subsequently branch out and create their own SETT hubs.
In short it would foster interaction between people which may be the primary purpose of putting things out on a blog in the first place - to get others to read your material and reply to it.
Lol now I want to consider turning my blog into a SETT hub and see what kind of people I attract.
Oh and yes I work a 9-5 and have struggled on and off with optimizing my health/well being for my whole life. I haven't made 'my big move' yet as I'm still trying to realize if I am the contented non-running relaxed type or if I'm the ambitious big-idea revolutionary type (for such a polarity I can see myself being both). I have few successes thus far (but am overall happy with my life) and most of my personal stories are endearing tales of failure/failure to act/inner conflict. I don't know if I'm the 99% or the 1% of the 99%.
@Tynan, proposal for how address this: when you release the next batch of SETT updates, don't release them through Tynan.com or SETT.com but have a lottery for all current SETT bloggers to win 2 or 3 invites to give out on their own blogs. 20 new SETT blogs giving away 3 invites each would hopefully bring in a whole lot of people who have never read your blog before.
@Nate, I like how you admit that your own posts are guilty of this, too :)
Well, we're moving in waves. The people who snatch up the first invites are probably also the most into this site, so they probably also have similar philosophies. This is also good for us because they understand SETT the best and are the most forgiving when weird stuff happens (like the hundreds of emails three people got on launch day).
As we invite more people, they'll probably be further from our core, less familiar with SETT, and be less forgiving. Each wave of invites will help us prepare for the next.
I'm not sure what you call average joe, but I work a 9-5 and have a family of my own. Hopefully my blog will be a success story. I not even really sure where it's headed yet, but I'm buckled in for the ride and have started writing posts.
I was actually happy to see some of the similarities. It's good to be around others that are focused on personal development, and I think having similar blogs can really help build a great community.
I think people think I'm being derogatory. I'm not. I was pointing out that I bet most of the people who signed up for blogs probably have similar mindsets/willpower/drive or whatever you want to call it and will have similar posts, and that those type of people tend to be successful, so the results may be skewed a bit. Good luck with your blog, I was holding off starting one too until it was ready
You're right, the are all well-written productivity and lifestyle design blogs. I guess that's what we should have expected since only Tynan's long-term readers got to learn about SETT so far.
To be brutally honest, I don't think the average Joe would even bother to write his first post. That type of people will never be successful bloggers unless they decide to change and become non-avergae. The list above has only 14 blogs, even though 50 people signed up. What happened to the other 36 who never wrote a single post?
I also don't think that every writer here is happy and successful (I wish it was true :D). I'm at the very beginning of my path to self-improvement and I use my blog mostly to clarify my thoughts and keep a check on me.
Hi Nate, I see what your saying about similarities but I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing. I think its beneficial that this community of early SETT adopters have common ground to walk on, making it easy to come together to help each other refine and grow. Personally, these are the types of posts I like to read.
And your gona see lots of failure stories from me, don't you worry. When I look back at my life in general, I've failed 50 times for every time I've succeeded, and will definitely will be writing about these failures on my blog.
Send me a link, I'd love to check out your blog.
Hey Tynan, 2 questions. 1. Are the Aquas still your favorite Vivobarefoot shoe? 2. I have a blog on wordpress that I'd like to host in SETT. How can I do that?
I never tried any other Vivos, so I can't give you a good answer. I still like the aquas, but I moved on to Vibram Bormios because I wanted something that covered my ankle for motorcycle riding.
To get on the SETT waiting list, just go to sett.com. If you're logged in already you can just click one button, otherwise fill in your email at the bottom. Importing from WordPress is possible-- still in alpha, but we'll get hands-on with you to make it work.
You make several good points in this post, and in all likelihood people will make an effort to do this...unfortunately it will only last a day or two and this bout of inspiration will be fleeting. Why? Because people who tend to procrastinate need to essentially rewire their brain so that this type of behavior becomes habitual. Most people favor short term pleasure vs. long term gain. This is why, for example, New Years Resolutions are rarely accomplished.
Of course, rationally it makes sense to get up early on Saturday and knock out some work, but most will think, "gee my bed feels so good, I'll do my taxes later!"
I think the best approach to this "rewiring" is to become a "list person." Basically making daily, weekly, and monthly lists of things that HAVE to get done and revisiting it everyday. There's something psychologically comforting in crossing off to-do list items. I became a list person like six years ago and I'm far and away more productive and ahead of schedule than I had ever been.
Thanks for sharing the list of blog posts. I'd like to see a more permanent index of blogs that are on SETT. I'm not sure how that would play out long term, but while SETT is growing it would help establish a community of bloggers by making it easier to find each other for cross posting and commenting.
Good advice. The sentence "it's the difference between no new words per year or 3650 new words per year" really aligns with what I've been working on. Someone in your community section suggested the book The Slight Edge, and this sentence reminds me of the main lesson from that book, which is that real victories come from small daily actions compounded over time.
Great post! Just recently I've realized that I can either live the kind of life I've always wanted by working really hard to get there, or I can suffer through the kind of life I don't want for the rest of my life. It will be hard either way, so why not take control now?
This might seem obvious or insignificant, but it's the kind of idea that can change your life forever. Keep that in mind.
P.S. Thanks for mentioning my article!
Before going to Romania, I decided I'd try to learn a bit of Romanian. By almost any measure it's sort of a pointless language to learn, but I figured I'd get a kick out of pretending to my I didn't speak any for a couple days, and then all of a sudden surprising my friends by speaking it.
My friend Brian did me a huge favor by going to the library, checking out the Pimsleur Romanian I series, ripping it, and then sending me the MP3s. After finishing the first lesson, I was struck by just how much I enjoyed doing it. I've used Pimsleur tapes to learn Chinese, Japanese, and French (which I never finished and consequently don't remember), but it had been six years since I'd started one.
The returns on learning the first bit of a language are huge. While I don't have nearly enough vocabulary to have an actual conversation in Romanian, doing one half-hour tape every day for a month left me with enough to be able to ask directions, order things at a restaurant, exchange pleasantries with strangers, and buy things. I think I successfully made a joke in Romanian, too.
So after all that, I decided that I'm just going to learn every language. Pimsleur has a list of over fifty that they support. I'm going to start with the ones I'm most interested in that have ninety tapes instead of the thirty that they had for Romanian. I did the full ninety in Japanese, and it got me to the point that I could have actual, if a bit kludgy, conversations.
Okay, so for lunch a few co-workers and I went out to a Thai restaurant. They had a tasting menu going so I ended up getting: two skewers of teriyaki chicken, calamari, garlic bok choy, and some spicy eggplant with chicken. For dessert I got the coconut shrimp. Seeing as how I'm 130 pounds, my co-workers were impressed with my ability to put away food.
Dinner was left over shrimp fried rice from the takeout joint last night. Dessert was a bowl of mixed berries with some coconut yogurt on top (I'm lactose intolerant, so cow yogurt is out of the question for me).
I'm happy that I managed to have pretty healthy food during lunch today. And I haven't had any real cravings for junk food, which is good. All I need to do now is get some sleep...