Productivity

The Easiest Educational Hack Nobody Uses

buckminsterfullerlearning

No clickbait here, folks. Scroll down for a handy list of examples, helpful links, and all the essential information clearly laid out for your convenience. I even bolded the really juicy bits. However, the following 1800 words are chock-full of helpful context, explanations, and scientific evidence, so please do read the full post to better understand the method behind my madness. Enjoy!

__

I guarantee two things:

1. The websites you visit most frequently are unconsciously decided by your habits.

2. The websites you visit the most are not the websites you should visit the most.

Daily life is full of little things we never notice, and in this post I’m going to show you how one of those unnoticed little things can be improved to make life easier for lifelong learners. In mere minutes, you can take a huge step towards reaching the next level in your personal development.

How much do you use the Internet?

The average American spends 3 hours per day browsing the Web, and that’s a conservative estimate for us web-savvy, blog-reading intellectuals. If you’re reading this, I’d bet money that you also read content from myriad blogs, news outlets, and social media sites. It’s easy to get sucked in when the millions of online creators compete to see who can grab our attention the best. But aren’t we capable of making good decisions all on our own?

Look at it this way: the Internet is like a grocery store. It’s lined wall to wall with potato chips, candy, and 42 varieties of ranch dressing. We know we should be eating vegetables… But if our senses get blasted with cues to eat cheesy pretzels, the decision to buy cheesy pretzels becomes much easier than the decision to buy broccoli.
The problem is that the Internet, much like TV ads and grocery store aisles, is chock full of images trying to persuade you to consume. And our puny human brains are subconsciously influenced by all that persuasive garbage, even if we try to tune it out. Luckily there’s a simple solution to this problem: we can avoid seeing the cues that push us towards Internet junk food in the first place.

Whether your junk food of choice is Reddit, Facebook, or Tumblr, reading virtually anything else would add much, much more value to your life. Yes, those sites are incredibly valuable. They help us stay abreast of the news, keep in touch with our friends, and to learn about all the things we care about. But again, our puny human brains can’t cope with the amount of information we’re presented with. We get a hit of dopamine (the “do it again” chemical in the brain) when we skim over a news headline or check our messages on Facebook. There’s a phenomenon of young people becoming physically addicted to their smartphones, so clearly we should at least exercise some cautious restraint.

On that happy note, on to the fun part!

We all know what we should be doing online, but we don’t do it. We know we should focus on long-term value-adding activities, but in the moment we can’t bring ourselves to take the first step. This is a part of being human, and most people learn how to become reasonably functional adults despite our silly brains trying to sabotage us.

For years my Chrome browser opened up to the same homepage: a google search bar with links to my 8 most visited websites. Before I stumbled upon the “easiest educational hack nobody uses”, Youtube always managed to crawl up to the top of my most-visited sites. I visited Youtube with the best intentions, but inevitably I would spend too much time on the wrong types of content.You don’t say, “Hey, I think I’ll watch funny cartoons on Youtube for 4 hours”. You think, “Hmm, Youtube is a thing.”, and the rest just happens. Every site that hosts user-submitted content, no matter how much high-quality information it holds, will eventually lure you into wasting time. People compete to build the most clickable headlines and the most irresistible thumbnails. The high quality content, the content we really ought to consume, is inevitably drowned out by the junk.

You’ve probably heard about some great educational websites, but how often do you take the initiative to actually visit them? Everybody wants to learn, but if we choose to rely on our future selves actually making the choice to type in the url of educational websites, the simple barrier of choice will prevent us from eating our Internet vegetables.

In this world of infinite information, personal education has never been more important. Millions of people make grand plans to learn, but after a week or a month they stop for a few days. Then they never touch it again, less due to laziness and more due to never thinking about it. Sound familiar?

We all want to learn about something, and pretty much everybody can spare 25 minutes a day to learn. We feel like we don’t have the time, and days and weeks feel like they slip by us. Everybody has good intentions, and everybody wants to learn, and everybody has the time if they’re willing to make some small sacrifices… But people don’t do it. Somewhere between saying “I want to learn this” and saying “now I am going to spend time learning this”, we fall short. This educational hack will address that gap. We can run interference on our own failures online by interjecting the correct things into the space where we would ordinarily consume the incorrect material.

The solution is simple:

Change what happens when you launch your browser. My Chrome settings open up six different tabs when I open the Internet. The common theme? They’re all sites that I know I should use more often, but I don’t.

I’ll make it even easier… Here are step-by step directions for Chrome and Firefox:

For Chrome users:
Settings –> Second down on the settings page, under “On Startup”, select the radio button “open a specific page or set of pages”. Then click “set pages” next to that, and the menu will open up to enter however many sites you want to open.

For Firefox users:
Options –>  The first field should be “startup”, and under that will be a url field. Under the URL box will be a button reading “Use Current Pages”. Click that with the education sites of your choice open, and you’re good to go.

Here’s my current lineup of start pages. I change it up every so often to keep it fresh (highly recommended).

First tab: Udemy. This is my personal favorite learning website. There are many free courses, and they have frequent sales to get the premium courses at affordable prices. Here are my 3 favorite courses, for mental masteryspeed reading, and increasing confidence.
Second tab: KhanAcademy. KhanAcademy is 142% more fun than public school.This site is completely free, and it covers most high school subjects. This is particularly great for math. His interview with Elon Musk is a good start. The site also has achievements, level ups and neato dinosaur avatars.
Third tab: Memrise. This site is awesome for memorizing foreign symbols and vocabulary. I’m learning all three forms of Japanese written characters, as well as three sets of vocabulary words. It’s great because it has an integrated system of mnemonics where people can upvote the most helpful memory tricks, and there is a wide selection of languages and courses to choose from.
Fourth tab: Coursera. This is another site similar to Udemy, with another nice selection of free courses. I prefer Udemy, but this is an excellent supplemental or alternative site. I set my browser to open straight to the course I’m working on, Learning How to Learn. I highly reccomend this course if you’re serious about long term learning. For an in-depth scientific look at learning, read Make It Stick.
Fifth tab: JapanesePod101. This is an educational language podcast site. They have some free content, but you have to subscribe to get full access to the higher level material. You can see their full list of languages here (not an affiliate link).

Le Conclusion

The beauty of this little trick is that if you don’t want to spend time on whatever websites you’ve chosen, you don’t have to. Just close the tabs and open whatever you want. You will put in more time on the valuable websites you’ve chosen for yourself, but it won’t feel like a burden. Your chosen educational resources will pop open, and you’ll think, “Sure, I have a little time for that.” Taking one little decision out of the equation makes all the difference in the world.

There’s this mental barrier that pops up when we try to force ourselves to do things. We say, “man, I really ought to work on that book I’ve been writing for 2 years… I’ll do it in a couple hours, right after I read a couple more blog posts.” Our brains love to sift through piles of interesting tidbits, greedily absorbing one headline after another, but sitting down to work through difficult material feels icky to our stupid lizard-hindbrain. A sense of dread shadows our brain, this weird, sticky, hardwired mental displeasure that comes from the idea of having to do something new, or hard, something you might fail at. It’s easier to brush that feeling off , to keep doing the same old crap, than to confront your situation head-on.

It’s hard to force ourselves to do things, and eventually we begin to resent whatever we’re forced to do, no matter how good it might be for us. I do believe in the power of our minds to make the right choices, but we must recognize that our success and failure can depend on tiny aspects of our lives that we rarely even think about. I’ve discussed one little change that has given me massive returns on my time… I’d like to encourage you to look for other little changes, things you never ordinarily think about, that could gently nudge you in the right direction. It’s imperative for each of us to look for, and to apply, these little tweaks that subtly nudge us towards doing the right thing.
It’s amazing how much impact tiny changes can make.

Everybody loves lists!
Here are the best free education sites! Leave me a comment if you know a good one I missed.

Automatically open your browser to these wonderful websites, or choose something specifically tailored to your needs.

a. Learn languages with Duolingo and Innovative Language
b. Watch Ted TalksKhanAcademyUdemy, Coursera, and EdX for entertaining video lectures on virtually any subject.
c. Play SuperBetter to make improving your mental state as fun as possible.
d. Anki and Memrise for immersive memorization practice.
e. The world’s most prestigious schools offer online lectures for free, including Oxford, Carnegie Mellon, Berkeley, Yale, Harvard, and Stanford.

For my skimmers, sinners, and extra-studious pupils, here’s the big fat point one last time:

Identify what you should be doing on the Internet, and set your browser to open those sites automatically.

Happy learning.

____

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on all the social media sites that I hypocritically advised you to abstain from. I love hearing your feedback, so please leave me a comment below. Let me know if I missed any other online resources for personal development, and I’ll add them to the list.
-Wolf N. Shepherd

Advertisements

Passion is Lubricant for Discipline

What’s it all for?

Why do what you’re doing? What’s your greater goal?

You’ll never achieve greatness unless you care deeply about your mission.

Why not? Why can’t I be awesome for 2 hours every day, then watch porn, get high, and gorge myself on Unlimited Pastabowli™ at Olive Garden for only $7.99?
That’s simple, Jack. Would your ideal self eat at fucking Olive Garden, or would the perfect version of you learn to cook tastier, healthier meals at home? Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of the “unlimited” genre of food, but becoming better is more important to me than as many buttery carbohydrates as I can cram into my mouth-hole.

Passion is lubricant for discipline. That’s the title of this post, so allow me to elucidate.

Willpower is the finite resource we use to make ourselves produce long-term wins against short-term displeasure (e.g. diet & exercise, learning an instrument/language)

Discipline is the habitual application of willpower towards achieving a greater long-term goal.

Passion is loving your long-term goal more than anything else.

I want to be a writer. Here I am, writing. It’s slow, and for six months I’ve been slowly, slowly, slowly gaining traction. I’ve doubted myself, and my productivity has gone up and down more than Cedar Point’s Cyclone… If only riding out a slump was as much fun. I love writing, though. Frequently I don’t feel like it, but I write every single day because I have a broad, long-term view of time. It’s a grind, but my passion for my craft applies oil to the grind for as little mental friction as possible. My work ethic, my willpower, and my discipline are lubricated before every battle with frustration like a big, beautiful, manly man getting ready to wrestle.

I get too excited about the future. I get so excited it turns to angry frustration; I move so slow sometimes it’s infuriating! I curse myself for wasting so much time. I’m only 22… If only I’d learned what I know now 5 years ago! Alas, time travel is impossible for us puny imperfect organisms. Someday our bioengineered progeny will leap through time, but today we must live with our choices. It’s OK, though. Whether you’re fifteen or fifty, there’s still plenty of time!

We can’t succumb to our furious, frustrated angst for faster improvement, but we also can’t let ourselves fall into dull complacency. Let’s meet somewhere in the middle, then. Let’s feel that furious passion for forward momentum, but let’s focus it, control it. Let’s use passion to fuel our daily appreciation of the smaller satisfactions in life.

What do I mean by lubricant?
Lube makes things smooth. Lube removes friction.
A passionate mindset broadens our view of time to give us a reason to be better.
Therefore, focusing on passion removes friction from the daily self-discipline grind.

My love for writing and my desire to improve give me the inspiration I need to do it every day. You never see pro athletes who don’t like their sport. Sure, some of them grow to hate it, but every single pro athlete has a genuine love for their game. They’d never spend 10 hours a day every day of their life to master a game they didn’t enjoy.
If you hated broccoli, you wouldn’t waste your time crafting a perfect broccoli recipe. You’d spend that time cooking carrots instead.

It all comes down to how you feel. What’s most important to you? What excites you?
I don’t care much about money. I’d love to drive a Mercedes, but I’d rather cut off one of my fingers than take on massive debt to buy a fucking hunk of metal overcompensation.

I care deeply about my my health, my environment and my education. Money buys better food, nicer neighborhoods, and it buys books, lessons, and access to information. I don’t give a fuck about buying a new car to impress my dipshit neighbors. I want money because I want freedom. I want the freedom to be the best version of myself, and that requires makin’ moolah.

So you want to be a famous rock star. Are you in a band? Have you written lyrics? How many hours do you practice every day? Famous rock-stars are so passionate about the music that they live and die for it. Many of my friends play guitar, and they all dream of being rich & famous. They practice now and then, but they don’t feel like it every day. They’re scared of losing their comfortable lifestyle. Practicing for 9 hours a day, living life like a fucking spartan, seems silly to people used to living every day without a greater purpose.

Nobody dreams of being a fucking desk-jockey. As a kid, did you ever see a wage-slave on TV sharpening a pencil, shuffling a stack of memos and think, “Man oh man, boy oh boy, golly gee I’d sure love to be like him!” No, you didn’t. In my generation, we wanted to be Tony Hawk. We wanted to be Indiana Jones. We invented Karate moves in the back yard; we were Bruce Lee, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan rolled into one. Then we went to school.

At school, they tell us:

“Ha ha, Ho ho, you can’t be like them! You must count the beans! You must be like us, for this is how a Grown-Up™ behaves! Get a real job, find yourself a wife, and then, maybe, if you’re lucky, when you turn 65 you can retire and do all that silly bullshit you always dreamed about.”

Fuck school. Learn because you care. Find the thing that intrigues you, the thing that lights a fire in your gut, and devote your life to feeding that curious fire.
The education system in America is designed to produce obedient workers. Even the greatest teachers in our public schools are so bogged down by regulations that all strides toward real education are made struggling against the current. The system we use was invented in Prussia to mass-produce obedient workers. Before that, education was real. It wasn’t anything like our sadistic shitshow of a school system.

School might have killed that childish desire to live out your dream, but it’s still in you. Somewhere in your gut you want to be cool. You want to be fucking Indiana Jones, so go out and buy a whip and a hat and start digging for treasure! It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just get out there and do something. If you want to act, join an improv group. If you want to be a musician, start a band. If you want to be a writer, write (and finish) something. You can worry about everything else after you get started.

But what if you don’t know what you want to do? You went to school, you got your diploma, and now you sit in an office counting beans and sharpening pencils and dreaming about being anywhere but there.

Even if you don’t have a dream to fuel your passion, start by working to energize yourself. Start caring about yourself.
Are you fat? Buy smaller dinner plates.
Are you ugly? Get a new haircut and some cool threads.
Are you awkward? Read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People.

Sit there in your chair. Read this, and think, hmm, that’s interesting, I like what he’s saying.
Then forget. You’ll forget this, and you’ll go back to your routine.
Do you ever forget what you were doing only a moment before?

It’s OK to be slow-going. It may take you 10 years to figure out what you wanted to be doing for the past 10 years, but don’t let that stop you.
If your life lacks passion, expose yourself to new things until you feel a spark. A spark is all it takes to light the fire in your gut. That fire inside you, that furious passion, is the most important factor in achieving fulfillment. Becoming the greatest version of yourself requires hard work every single day. The only way to diligently work every day, even when you don’t feel like it, is to be passionate about your purpose. No matter what, you must be certain that you’re making a difference. Every day, take one step towards building something bigger than yourself.

Every day I think about my beautiful future. My destiny is REAL in my mind.

If my house burned down, if my friends and family abandoned me, if I lost everyone and everything, I would smile with the knowledge that my new pain would be forging me into a greater man faster than I could ever do comfortably.

I refuse to accept the pathetic path of comfort that society lays down in front of me. My passion for my art, my desire to thrive in this cutthroat world, and my thirst to be a man worthy of respect all drive me forward towards my ideal self. Do you want an easy comfortable life, or would you rather bust your ass every day for ten years to create something more meaningful?

How much is your dream worth?

BruceLeeDiscipline

Distractions are Killing you

internet-distractions

I’m distracted trying to write this. You’re distracted by this needlessly large image above my type. You’ll probably just look at the image, fart out a couple laughs, and move on without actually reading anything. Because hey, reading is hard. I get it.

Personally, I love to read because it’s fun, informative, and rewarding mentally and emotionally. It’s an escape; as a young man I read books and became more emotionally invested in the characters than in real people. There’s nothing better than the feeling when you finish a really great book.

Here’s the rub: the internet ain’t a book.

When you read a book, you’ll put in a pair of headphones. Maybe you’ll sequester yourself in a quiet, relaxing place like a coffee-shop or your living room. You’ll get the lighting just right, and you’ll sit in a wonderfully comfy chair. Ever tried to talk to somebody who’s reading? They’ll look at you like you’re a fly they want to squash.

When you read the internet, you’re constantly assaulted by unwanted information. HEY! HERE’S 10 FACTS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT BOOBS! You fuckers would click that in a second! It’s true; if people could get away with filling their websites with nothing but boobs and top-10 lists they would. The “intelligent, discerning Internet viewer” doesn’t matter because it’s much easier to attract 10 mentally deficient zombies than 1 intellectual. Sorry, smart-fags, but stupid is where the money is. 

What’s it all mean?

If you want to get anything done, you have to avoid distractions. Distractions pull your focus away from good things like learning, reading, thinking and creating. Do you care? If not, you’re probably not reading this anyway. You’ve read almost 300 words so far; well done! Drifting through the Internet for hours at a time is great fun. Keep on refreshing that Tumblr page. Make yourself a spreadsheet analyzing the likelihood of frequent Tumblr posters to be chickens pecking at the keyboard. Make an afternoon of it, do some research. It’s for science, after all. I know some pretty smart chickens. Run a comparison of chicken faces versus Tumblr profile pictures. I bet they’re pretty similar. Illuminati? Probably. Conspiracy everywhere.

Wake the fuck up, people! Facebook is not real life. You do not have 862 friends; you barely hang out with your cat. If you don’t see or talk to someone at least once per week, you’re not friends. You know, talking, like with words from your mouth. How often do you call people on the phone? If you’re under the age of 30, probably not often. Why? Because phone calls make me anxious. I can’t talk to a real person! I get nervous just trying to talk to Kevin at AT&T customer support, and he’s contractually obligated to be nice to me.

Try this: turn off your smartphone.

Did you do it? Of course you didn’t. If you turned off your phone, how would you know if somebody needed to reach you for like, totally important stuff?

How often have you gotten a text that said,

“Hey. U home? I got stabbed can u drive me 2 hospital?”
^This will never happen. That’s what 911 is for. You are not that important.

Way, way, WAYYYY back in 1989, nobody had cell phones. Business dudes had them, and they were huge and you looked like an asshole lugging the thing around. People called each other from their houses. They left messages, and they didn’t get angry when their behind-the-times parents left them a voicemail that they now have to spend 2 whole minutes deleting.

Are you one of those wonderful individuals that checks their phone during a real conversation? Do you feel the urge to check your leash for new updates? Do you check Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media more than… 10 times a day? If so, you’re an addict. There’s a chemical called dopamine that’s released in your brain every time you get a hit of that sweet social media juice. It feels pretty great, and it causes the same reaction in your brain as hard street drugs.

But hey, if you never plan on doing anything, maybe social media is perfect for you. Maybe you’ll never need to know facts. Maybe you’ll never need skills. You can probably just live on welfare, crank out a few kids and get that sweet, sweet Big Papa Government welfare check. You don’t need to worry about things like self-improvement because your “self” exists only online.

Here’s a list for you fuckers scanning to the bottom for the juicy bit:

1. Turn off your cell phone for a day. If you feel like you’ve had your right arm removed, you probably have a serious problem.

2. Close your social media tabs. Try looking at nice pictures on Instagram instead. Happy sunsets and puppies are much better for your psyche than your pseudo-friends vague emotional bullshit.

3. Maybe go outside? Call somebody you like? Talk to someone about something real that’s happening in your life. Experience the joy of reading an actual book!

Also, phones might cause cancer. The science isn’t done on that yet. That’s kind of a scary thought. Just think about cancer every time you want to check Facebook.

Fight Yourself

Fight-Club-Punching-Self

No. Not literally.

To do anything worth doing, you gotta give yourself a swift kick in the ass. Your body and mind will be resisting change the whole way, and it’s your job to put yourself back on the right track each and every time. It’s unavoidable. This is just how people work. No matter how long you’ve been persistent for, you’ll eventually have one bad day.

I read an excellent post on Wait But Why yesterday that really got me thinking. For a long time, I’ve struggled a lot with procrastination. I’ve had some similar ideas from my own experience, but I’ve never seen it explained and illustrated so perfectly.

In short, when we try to do the work that really matters, we often get distracted by instant gratification. We make great, consistent progress once we’re deep into the flow of our work, but moving ourselves from that murky period of self-loathing filled procrastination requires more and more willpower as time goes on.

I won’t get too deep into the content from the article, but I’ve been thinking about this topic for quite awhile. I’ve been working since August of last year to create positive daily habits, and I’ve made more holistic progress since then than any other time of my life. First starting out, though, it was an uphill battle. When I became seriously interested in self-improvement during my second year of college, I had lost around fifty pounds the previous year. Obviously I felt pretty good about it, but I wasn’t sure what the next step was. I had a vague idea of what my priorities and values were at that point, but I was still very naive in my approach to life. I had this vague attitude of not taking life too seriously that was great for creating a positive mindset, but was actually detrimental to building forward momentum in my life.

I ended up spending a lot of time playing video games and watching TV. Pretty much every day I would wake up and do the same old shit. I was making great efforts to get healthier, but my routine for the other aspects of my life were sorely lacking. Basically the only useful skill I learned in my first year of college was how not to be fat; I didn’t have any useful real life skills. I lacked discipline. I figured that one day I’d write a book, but I rationalized a bunch of stupid reasons why I wasn’t writing anything.

Eventually, nearly a year ago, I started writing a journal. I can’t tell you how huge of a step this was for me. Beginning to write down my thoughts sparked a series of changes that I never expected. It’s difficult to stick with a journal at first, but now it’s a permanent part of my nightly routine. If you aren’t already writing one, do it. Do it now. You’ll find yourself coherently expressing for the first time thoughts you’ve been having for a while; not only that, new ideas and feelings and opinions will come to the surface that you never even knew were there. Personally, the biggest benefit I’ve had from writing a journal has been a log of my progress. There were days when all I did was sitting around watching Netflix. Writing out my experiences forced me to examine my life. When you write down, “Today I didn’t do much of anything.” enough times, you start to feel like a piece of shit, which is great motivation. I ended up thinking a lot about the difference between what I was doing and what I wanted to be doing, and eventually I starting making more changes in my life because my journal helped me sort out all the emotional bullshit that was holding me back.

Fighting yourself isn’t easy. Honestly, the only way to do it effectively is to cut yourself off from all distractions. If your phone is distracting you from your work, leave it on silent face-down out of your sight. Refocus your attention entirely on what really matters in your life. Maybe read an actual book instead of scrolling through forums, blogs, and social media.

People tend not to change. Changing is hard, and staying the same is easy. That’s why no matter how far you progress, you still have to fight yourself to keep moving. Luckily, improving ourselves doesn’t have to always be a struggle. Why? Because momentum.

If you spend a week jerking off and watching cartoons all day, on that eighth day you’re really going to want to jerk off and watch cartoons. Your body has been programmed to jump right into that negative routine. Most of us have experienced this with whatever our lazy sin of choice is (Netflix for many of us). Now, you don’t have to give up all your favorite shows, games, and whatever other mindless entertainment gets your rocks off. Just quit all the meaningless bullshit. Quit “just watching something”. If you want to watch every episode of a great show because it’s great, that’s fucking awesome. Do it at night after you’ve gotten some work done, but enjoy that god damn show with vigor! Consuming well-made media is a great way to spend your spare hours, but just watching something to watch something is how fools spend 20 years before finally asking themselves where their life went. Think about what you’re doing. Think about why you’re doing it. 

When you look at yourself and realize that many of your idle instantly gratifying actions provide no benefit to your life or your goals, you’ll have two choices: either keep feeding yourself empty entertainment and self-loathing, or buckle down and get some work done. I only have to spend a few hours productively before I start to feel really good about it. There’s no better feeling than finally relaxing after spending the day the right way. Make the choice when you wake up to instantly jump into that positive routine of self-development. Take a break after 4 hours spent practicing skills, learning information, and exercising your body. Spend the time to truly commit to improving yourself just a little bit. Report back to me with how fucking awesome you feel.

Redundancy, Success, and Supervillians

malcolmmerlyn

Often redundancy is viewed negatively, seen as a waste of time, energy, or resources. Why do something twice when it’s already being done once?

Take the words of fictional multibillionaire and mass murderer Malcolm Merlyn:

“If I’ve learned anything as a successful businessman, it’s redundancy.”

Mr. Merlyn set up a machine to destroy the impoverished ghetto that he believed to be the root of his city’s problems. When the hero swooped in and disabled the machine, Merlyn ultimately succeeded even in defeat because he had actually placed two earthquake machines. Pretty smart. Why don’t more supervillians count on the good guy fucking everything up? I mean, every Hero has a long track-record of royally screwing up every perfectly crafted evil scheme, so inquiring minds should wonder why more Bad Guys don’t just plan to fail. 

Now, most of us don’t have to worry about our WMDs being disabled by a hooded vigilante. This quote, though, illuminates something many of us can implement into our daily lives. Often to create consistent, effective patterns in our lives, we must take certain steps to prevent interference from outside sources. There are myriad possible causes for external interference, though typically much more mundane that Mr. Merlyn’s.

Here are some

Multiple alarm clocks-

Most of us have overslept. Some of us habitually get up, turn off our alarms and go right back to sleep after lying down Just for a Minute™. This is one of the best examples of redundancy in action: setting one alarm clock for 15 minutes after the first one will motivate you to get up and stay up at the first alarm, and will wake your sleepy ass up again if you fall back asleep. I use a mildly annoying radio station for my first alarm, but my second one is a blaring siren. Needless to say, this is a real kick in the ass to get out of bed within 15 minutes.

Redundant Reminders-

Here’s another excellent strategy that is already pervasive throughout self-improvement culture: remind yourself to do what needs doing. I put notes on my walls with positive affirmations, reminders, and triggers to tweak my thinking. I even have a note on the ceiling above my bed to remind me to focus on meditation as I fall asleep. These are all excellent resources, but to be really effective you must take advantage of another source for reminders: other people. If there’s one thing people are good at, it’s being redundant. Ask your neighbor, your girlfriend, your roommate to text, call you, or bang on your door with a reminder to read, write, or make abstract art out of old ashtrays. Ideally, you could have a reliable accountability partner (or five) who would work with you to mutually keep each other on the right track. Whatever your mission is, be it a fitness goal or a writing career, employ your peers (and your environment) to help you make it a reality.

Redundant Planning-

What do you want to do?

Figure out what you would like to accomplish, and decide a reasonable path towards that goal. Start with something easy and work your way towards your ultimate goal. Make a list of attainable action items to get done to bring yourself closer to success. Now, think about what could happen that might completely fuck up your goals. Maybe your computer could get fried and you’d lose your work. Maybe there could be a death in the family. Maybe your psychotic other personality blows up your apartment. That’s unlikely, but the idea is that you should figure out precisely what you’re going to do, how you’re going to get there, and what could possibly go wrong. Prepare for these eventualities and take action each day towards the achievement of your ambition. This last bit sounds rather lofty, and might be difficult to implement in “Real Life”, but making real, planned, attainable progress is the best way to get moving in whatever direction you choose for your life.

New Year’s Resolutions

newyears

Every year the innumerable indolent fools of the world promise themselves that this year will be the year. This year, I’ll go to the gym every day, never eat anything sweet again, and I’ll quit smoking for good. Typically, these mouth-breathers will have great success for about a week, then they’ll say, “Oh, I’ve done so well. I deserve to indulge myself just this once because it’s the weekend/a holiday/other bullshit celebration”. They indulge their newly vanquished vice, thus giving it more power over them than ever. A new vicious cycle of failure begins again, starting the same damn pattern they’ve been living through their entire lives. “New Year’s Resolutions”, as most Americans use them, are an utterly worthless waste of time.

Now, I’m writing this on New Year’s, and the title is “New Year’s Resolutions”. Clearly I believe there is some value in this tradition.

People seem to need an excuse to change their lives for the better. New Years is an excellent excuse, so use it if you find motivation in the pretty new number on your calendar. Make a simple resolution that you know you can keep up with for the entire year. It doesn’t have to be something hard, just make it something that you know will benefit you in some way. Here are some attainable resolutions that anybody could follow through with:

-Go outside every day. Commit just to stepping outside into the sunlight once every day, and if you feel like walking, well, you’re a regular overachiever.

-Give up soda. That shit is poison and will kill you. Consider drinking almost anything else, like milk, apple juice, or goat’s blood.

-Every day, eat a vegetable. No ranch dressing, you fat fuck.

-Every day, read something. A book, the newspaper, a blog, or your favorite news site. Not Tumblr, and no, texting does not count.

-Learn something once a month. Maybe learn a new recipe. Try out a new hobby. Buy some powertools and just go nuts while the neighbor’s out of town with his door unlocked. Doing new things will relieve the monotony of your shitty life, and it’ll make people say, “Wow, this guy is way more interesting than that dick Larry.”

Yeah, doing things is hard. It’s worth it, I promise. Make a commitment to making 2015 slightly less fucking horrible than the year before. Future-you will thank me.

The Exponential Growth of the Self

littleshopofhorrors

Personal growth. Describing the best methods for growing as a person is one of the primary functions for this blog. There are many aspects of growth, but I’d like to elucidate a particular aspect of it here… The fact is that, like many things, growth tends to spiral out of control. The key here is to put yourself in an ideal environment to produce self-improvement.

What have you done today? That’s the big question you need to ask yourself. Don’t fucking bother with what you’re going to do next month if you aren’t already on top of what you are doing RIGHT NOW to advance your goals. Procrastination is rampant in our society. The internet, alongside a multitude of other causes, has given us infinite instant gratification. The first step towards personal growth is to banish your dependence on the feelings of gratification, validation, and satisfaction you get from social media (or booze, drugs, masturbation, etc.). Set your sights on doing something today that is conducive to your goals for the future.

Once you’re working on the elements of your life that actually matter, you will notice that you look forward to the progress you will be making in the future. Too often in life, we do things simply because we’re supposed to. When we wake up in the morning without a cause to wholeheartedly put our energy towards, we fall into a stagnant idleness that breeds a feeling of contempt towards ourselves and the lives we find ourselves drifting through. Stagnation is the enemy of success. To prevent stagnation, we simply must engage exclusively in activities which we are passionate about.

Passion is key to exponential growth. I’ll write more about this in the future, but I’ll say now that if you don’t really care about something you’ll never improve as a person. This can be anything, as long as you believe in something. Be strong, passionate, and dedicated to whatever course you take in life. If you find yourself doing something just because you’re supposed to, ask yourself what you’d rather be doing. Quit your soul-sucking job and chase whatever “stupid dream” society has told you was impossible. The same people who tell you “you can’t” and the same idiots who work 9-5 jobs for dickbrain bosses they can’t stand. The only one who cares about you is YOU; start acting like it.

The key here is that not only to always be working towards something you care about, but also have an internal definition of success. If you rely on outside sources for approval, you will constantly be disappointed. No matter how good you are at what you do, other people will always fail to provide adequate validation due to jealousy, incompetence, or apathy. By framing our mind as “becoming”, rather than “producing”, we will always succeed. If today you are closer to becoming your ideal future self, you have succeeded. Always remember that.

Again, growing into the person you want to be will not be easy. It’ll be hard work, but here’s the most important part…

Difficulty is irrelevant.

The ONLY factor that matters here is whether what we’re doing is worth it. If you complain that becoming the person that you truly know you are meant to be is “too hard”, you clearly are not meant for great things. If you want to be a writer, then write. Whatever you want to do, do it TODAY. Disregard your thoughts of difficulty; if you’re working on achieving the thing that you really, truly desire, any work that brings you closer to that goal will be worth doing. This is essential, my friends. The simple act of doing worthwhile work is the most basic component of personal growth. The reason so many people hate their lives is that they slave away every day to get a paycheck. Their work is a meaningless number on a spreadsheet; the worst fate you can face is slavery of the mind. Carry fear in your heart of the robotic stagnation that comes with indentured servitude to an indifferent corporate master. Never forget why growing into the best version of yourself is important; always remember your mission.

Growth, passion, and dedication are the three ingredients that add up to an explosion of productivity. Forget about postponing the things that must be done. Shut up and do it. If you are like me, you are damn sick of being told how to live by an ignorant society. Do what really matter in life, and ignore haters who shit on your dreams.

If you’re satisfied with a mediocre life, coasting towards death one paycheck at a time, then I’m happy for you. People like me can’t exist without people like that supporting the infrastructure. However, I will never live in a world where I am not constantly forging myself into something a little closer to perfect. I’ll never stop getting better, and neither should you. Remember that you are the only one in your life that matters. Never neglect yourself; remember that working to refine yourself into something greater is the most worthwhile work in the world.

You will fail many times before you ever achieve the success you desire. Your failures will refine you into a being far greater, one capable of smashing through the barriers that hold back so many others. For every failure, count two victories in the future. When you fail, you gain a strength that can only be gained by trying and failing. This is an essential stage of growth, and it is possibly the most difficult. Never forget in your weakest moments that only by being shown how great our weaknesses are can we finally overcome them.

Ignite a fire in yourself that screams for MORE. Always be thinking of ways to improve. Never let your enemies drag you down. Your endless quest for success will begin incredibly slowly. Over time, you’ll notice a subtle change in your mind. You’ll hunger for more, to achieve more every single day. You’ll burn with the desire to become what you’ve always known you could be. Soon, that burning desire, that result of your great strides towards growth, will become an exponential explosion of improvement in every aspect of your life. It’s hard, but you don’t care any more. It seems endless, but now you’ve gone from dreading your labors to taking joy in your improvements. Suddenly you look up to see that the endless mountain you’ve been climbing has a peak. You’re on your way there, my friends. Your climb begins now.

Related reading:

http://therationalmale.com/2012/01/13/just-be-yourself/

http://yohami.com/blog/2012/01/03/be-yourself-do-what-matters/