I’ve been thinking a lot lately about personal inertia and change, and how no matter how hard you try, some things about yourself you can never change. And what to do about it.
This past week or two I’ve been wrestling with myself over how best to spend my time, and how I naturally lean toward goofing off and wasting it. I know I’m going to do it, and I know beating myself up over it isn’t going to make me WANT to get better at it. In fact, that’s the worst way possible.
So I’m trying to get down and nitty-gritty and understand myself better, warts and all. Based on my past behavior and my natural inclinations, I have learned the following:
1) If I have the choice between doing something challenging and productive and doing something easy and fruitless, I will probably do the easy thing.
All the self-discipline I’ve used on myself to try to get better at it can only go so far. So my solution? Forcibly remove all the easy and fruitless activities. Bye bye internet. Bye bye cable TV. Bye bye DVDs. Bye bye beer. Problem solved.
Basically, I’m looking at myself as a rat in a maze, and I’m just removing obstacles and changing the maze myself to achieve the result I want. 🙂 I know I’m going to act like this. I know I will probably goof off, despite my best intentions. So the only logical answer is that I should completely remove the choice to do something easy and fruitless.
That ties into something else I learned about myself:
2) I have a highly addictive personality.
When I find something new and interesting that I love, I will absolutely exhaust it.
- If I get something awesome and fun to do at work, I will work myself to death with insane hours until I’m done with it.
- If I find a new exercise routine that I enjoy, I will repeat it until I can’t move.
- If I find a new book I like, I will sit down and read the entire thing in one sitting, then buy three more books by that author on Amazon.
- If I find a new kind of beer I enjoy, I will buy and drink cases of it.
- If I find a new restaurant I like, I will go there every day for a week.
- If I meet a new girl that I’m interested in, I can’t get her out of my head and I have to fight the urge to spend all my waking time talking to her.
And so on. I keep going until I hit some sort of wall and HAVE to stop. The incredible thing is that I never notice that I’m this obsessed, because I’m having so much fun.
And I never realized how intense I was in that regard until recently. And it’s funny (and scary) how totally involuntary it is. So this ties into the personal inertia concept… what can I do about that if I’m such a slave to my own whimsy? Surround myself with the kind of things I SHOULD become obsessed with and hack away at for a year until I get tired. 🙂 That’s why my apartment is becoming spotless. That’s why I’ve been eating healthier and exercising and why I’ve lost another four pounds just this week. And that would be why I am at work on a perfectly nice Sunday afternoon.
So the whole point of this is… know yourself. Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Find ways to turn your weaknesses into your strengths. People all fall into specific patterns of behavior that are VERY easy to recognize and take advantage of. Learn to understand your own, predict how you’re going to act and react to the things around you, and learn how to play yourself just like a game to get better performance and BE better.
Ultimately, we’re all just machines. Thousands of little systems that act together in very precise, predictable patterns. You don’t even have to think about them, because they simply work the way they do automatically without you ever realizing it. Hitch a ride on that! At that point it’s not even effort, it’s like totally free bonus time in which to kick ass.
Come on, just IMAGINE how much better you can be if you can just add or remove one little factor to turn your inborn unconscious quirks and weaknesses into happy, puttering little engines of success! 🙂
So, loyal readers, I’m curious! Have you ever turned a weakness into a strength? What was it and how?