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Do the Real Thing

Why We Take Detours

Why We Take Detours

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.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Do the Real Thing

Do the Real Thing

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2020/05/04/do-the-real-thing/

scotthyoung.com

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Key Ideas

Doing The Real Work

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.

Why the Real Thing Matters

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.

Choosing The Obvious Way

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.

Why We Take Detours

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.

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Doing what you love is complicated

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 a...

Bounds

Keep in mind this question: How much are you supposed to enjoy what you do? If you underestimate your answer, you'll tend to stop searching too early.

Liking your work does not mean doing what makes you happiest in this second, but what will make you most satisfied over a more extended period, like a week or a month. Your work should be your favorite thing to do. It should be something you admire.

What you should not do

  • Don't worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends.
  • Don't worry about prestige. Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world. If you do anything well enough, you'll make it prestigious.
  • Don't be led astray by money, especially when money is combined with prestige.

A test of whether you love what you do is if you would do it even if you weren't paid for it. (Even if you had to work at another job to make a living.)

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Doing the real, useful thing

Much of success boils down to doing the real thing and not an imitation of the real thing. 

For example, if you want to learn a language: Start wi...

Lacking the time

Doing things well may seem daunting. You may feel that you don't have enough time.

But the point is not to deny your obstacles - it's to start with the best plan and make changes as needed, rather than simply starting with something that feels easy enough.

The Paradox of Difficulty

The hardest things end up becoming the easiest, once you've fully committed to a pursuit.

When you've chosen to commit, make it a priority. Put it first in your calendar. Expect frustration and obstacles. You will get stronger.

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Distractions Can Ease Pain

Our brains have a limited ability to focus. So distractions can be a powerful tool for reducing the impact of painful or negative experiences.

For example, children are notoriously ...

Distractions Can Make Us Better

  • Distractions can be used to control our urges and impulses: certain games like Tetris can help reduce cravings for fatty foods and even addictive drugs.
  • Distractions can help us stay fit: taking our minds off the pain of physical exercise, with music or television, can improve performance and endurance.
  • Digital distractions and personal technology can also help us develop our ability to take on challenges in the future and build up our courage.

When Distractions Are Destructive

Whether personal technology distractions are a force for good depends on why and how we use them.

Identifying why and how you engage with personal technology may be the difference between healthy and destructive behavior: Do you play to escape your real life, or do you play to make your real life better?