Success mostly boils down to this: Do the real thing. Stop doing fake alternatives.
If you are a student, instead of creating multicolored folders for your class, sit down and study. If you want to get in shape, don't only plan your workout gear, start exercising.
We are all guilty of this at some stage. We spend months dreaming up elaborate projects that avoid the real work.
MORE IDEAS FROM Do the Real Thing
The truth is that we often think we are practicing one thing, but later find that we are not really accomplishing our goal.
Several studies show that students are not able to perform on tasks that their classes should have prepared them for. For example, studying economics, but then not able to do better on questions of economic reasoning. Physics students that fail to solve a problem that differs slightly from those taught in class.
The real thing requires genuine difficulty. Pretend activity is just difficult enough to make you think you're doing something that matters while avoiding the real difficult things.
The fake activity will make you feel better about yourself, but won't produce results.
When you examine case studies of people with major accomplishments, you might expect some involved technique they used that others were not smart enough to notice. But often, they only did the real thing.
Polyglots are able to speak a language because they spend a lot of time speaking it. Playing on apps alone doesn't count.
Real activities on real projects, real work, or real results are more effective than substitution or preparation work.
Some examples include:
However, there are arguments against doing the real thing.
As kids, playing was described as fun while work was pretty much defined as not-fun. In school, it was implied that work was monotonous because it was in preparation for grownup work. Grownups all agreed that grownup work was worse and that kids had it easy in school.
This is why it can take people years to understand that work can literally be fun.
People think of a smiling person as likable, trustworthy, cooperative, and believable. But smiling is so easy anyone can fake it and exploit the other person.
Genuine smiles involve a few wrinkles around the eyes and are also called Duchenne smiles. The problem is people can also crank out a seemingly genuine smile on demand.
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