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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 we struggle to take action.

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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. 
  • Your expectation of success depends on your motivation.

If your projects tend to f...

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 have new inputs to turn us in the right direction, but also the ability to keep headed in the chosen ...

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 discouraged if they don't yield big rewards. It may explain inaction to start your own business, but a ...

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 can explain our failure to try, but don't explain our inner struggles with inaction.
  • Ca...

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 unconscious parts of our mind have decided not to take action. You might be convincing yourself that you w...

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 incompatibility that can make it difficult to take action on. The person who dreams up the goal is different fr...

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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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 you run non-stop, you will need to eat more to stay alive, and you will wear your muscles out.

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The role of effort

For most types of work you can increase your productivity by increasing the intensity of your work. No more watercooler chats or lingering over emails.

Some productivity systems admit that we can get more done within the same time. But scheduling every moment of your w...

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The first views on motivation

  • At first, psychologist William James thought that only the initial act was conscious, thereafter behaviour was a spontaneous cascade of habits. He suggested we struggle with motivation when there are competing ideas.
  • Sigmund Freud theorised that we are largely unconscious of what d...

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