Do What You Need To Do, Not What You Feel Like Doing

The title sounds incredibly obvious, but most people don’t.

There are two things you could be doing right now:

  1. What your chimp brain feels like doing in the moment (cheap dopamine)
  2. What you really want to be doing in the big picture

Addiction for example is chasing cheap dopamine and not being able to restrain yourself from it.

Depression is addiction to negative thoughts and feelings like hopelessness, negativity, stress, etc.

When there’s a mismatch between what you really want to be doing and what you are doing, that’s when you feel like sh*t, lose your ability to self-control, and slide further downward in a negative feedback loop. Fall hard enough, and that’s labeled “depression”.

If you ask a random average person if they want to be a multimillionaire/billionaire or the best in the world at something, they’d probably respond “yes”. But the reality is that most people don’t want it bad enough to be willing to put in the work and make the sacrifices to make that happen. These people are content having average lives, watching Netflix in the evenings, etc. – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But if you’re the type of person who wants more, then you’re not going to feel content clocking into your average boring job and then zoning out to your mindless hobbies. But if you don’t change your behavior, you’ll feel discontent with your life and this will only grow unless your give up your ambitions.

Align your actions with your goals.

If you want to be really successful yet you spend 8 hours/day on activities that don’t bring your closer to your goals (mindless internet surfing/scrolling, videogames, porn), then cut that sh*t out. Yea if you’re addicted it probably won’t be easy, but look at the bigger picture and ask yourself if you still want to be doing the same thing in 5 years. If not, then you need to change now.

Set concrete goals and deadlines, and schedule that work time into your schedule.

There will be days you don’t feel like working, but you need to build the discipline to work despite that. Even if those hours are grueling, the fact that you put in those hours further cements the habit of doing what you need to do, even if it’s not what you feel like doing. You’re building resilience and discipline, and you’ll probably feel significantly better after that grueling work session than a 6 hour videogame/porn session (and if somehow you don’t, then you certainly would after a week of that).

Procrastinating and blowing off a work day just makes it more likely you’ll blow off another one. Your discipline will be weakened, and thus you’ll actually be taking a step backwards.

That’s not to say one can’t take a break every now and then. We’re not machines, and breaks are important – not just for wellness but even for productivity as well (much learning actually happens subconsciously). One can’t work at maximum cognitive capacity forever, and there’s a point of diminishing returns – so it’s actually wise to schedule cut-off times in the evening (Cal Newport, MIT professor and author of “Deep Work” stops working at 5:30pm).

What’s most important is remaining consistent over a long period of time.

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” -Bill Gates

Again if you’re content with your life now as it is, then carry on. But if you want more, then start doing what you need to be doing rather than what you feel like doing.

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