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Why is Taking Action Hard? | Scott H Young

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https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2019/12/16/why-is-action-hard/

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Why is Taking Action Hard? | Scott H Young
You're supposed to write an essay, but you procrastinate. The treadmill is collecting dust in your basement. You want to learn a language, start a business or change careers, but those ideas go nowhere. Inaction is something we've all experienced. Inaction, more than anything else, is the cause of our failures and our miseries.

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Taking action = eventual success

Taking action = eventual success

Inaction is the biggest cause of our failures and our miseries. If we could consistently do the things we know we should do, we would be more successful, and our lives would be better. Yet w...

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Explaining inaction

Some possible but weak reasons why action is hard:

  • Talent. But the world is full of brilliant stars that flame out and mediocre minds that build empires.
  • Preferences

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Confidence

Confidence
Motivation and expectation of success create a feedback loop:
  • Your motivation to complete a task depends on the value of the reward and your expectation of success. 
  • ...

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Social-Desirability Bias

Our conscious mind may be functioning more by making reasonable-sounding explanations for its behavior rather than actually making decisions.

This means that we fail because the uncons...

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Daydreams and Reality

Daydreams and Reality

We have two characteristic modes of viewing things—an abstract (or far-mode) and a concrete (or near-mode) view.

Because of the two modes, many big goals have a far-near incompatibilit...

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Sticking Your Neck Out

Our nature may be to view the cost-benefits of taking actions and be willing to retreat to conformity instead of getting punished.

Some ventures into different kinds of actions are discour...

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We're Short-Sighted

We're Short-Sighted

Procrastination may be a delaying tactic to avoid wasting energy here and now, even if you think you might work harder later on.

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Get Better at Taking Action

Traditional approaches often focus on human will alone. But, our minds are complicated things, with many conscious and unconscious control mechanisms.

To take action, we need to not only h...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Effort as Energy Expenditure

Effort as Energy Expenditure

Effort represents an investment of a fixed resource, like calories.

For this reason, running takes more effort than sitting. It takes more calories and strains muscles and joints. If y...

Effort as Attention

Paying attention seems to be linked to effort, since deliberate control of attention take effort.

Focus is only hard if we're trying to focus. If our attention is held automatically, focus is not an effort.

Effort as the Opposite of Habit

Effort could be seen as the opposite of something we do automatically. Effort then is what happens when we try to override an automatic pattern.

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Output comes from input

If you want to have a lot of good ideas, you need to expose yourself to good ideas.

This means reading books, having conversations with interesting people, seeking out new experiences,...

Have a capture mechanism

Creative ideas often come to you when you’re not deliberately trying to solve a problem, when your mind is relaxed.

That's why your creative process must include a system to capture ideas when you have them, so you can work on them later. The simplest mechanism is simply to have a list where you keep ideas.

Incubate your ideas

Regularly review your ideas lists. Incubation helps because just as a spontaneous connection can generate an idea, an incubated idea can spontaneously mature into a plan of action if you take care of it.

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Mark Twain

“It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Mark Twain

The most useful learning

Most people think about learning as adding knowledge and skills. You now have a new fact in your mind that didn’t exist before.

The most useful learning isn’t usually a strict addition of new knowledge, but first unlearning something false or unhelpful.

Types of Unlearning

  • Straightforward refutation of the old idea. This complete refutation is atypical. More likely the new knowledge doesn’t contradict the old one, but it may modify it in some way.
  • The new knowledge revises a simpler picture by filling it with more complex details. This is similar to adding new knowledge, although because the older, simpler view of the issue has been overwritten with more detail, there is some unlearning going on.

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