The difficulty of the new challenge makes us take things seriously. With powerful time constraints, procrastinating is out of the question.
Taking studying seriously pushes you to do better than you might have, absent those constraints, for example.
Most of the thing we do that are related to self-improvement have an activation cost - it’s harder to exercise regularly, read books and work on yourself than to binge watch TV series all day. But, once you’re already doing those things, it’s easier to keep doing them.
The thing is that a lot of the things we should do to live well just aren’t motivating enough on their own. You know you should do them, but you often fail to. However, when you do have a goal that deeply motivates you then that enthusiasm often helps overcome the activation costs in other areas of life.
We usually believe that effort will be draining and that it's better to save our energy for when we really need it. Yet, more often than not, the opposite is the case: when we really use our full effort for something that truly matters to us, we feel more energized, not less.
The paradox is that life is often easiest when it is hardest. When you’re working on a pursuit that may fail if you don’t take it seriously, you find the energy to take it seriously. And you find the other troublesome things in life that needed effort weren’t so hard either.
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