How to Succeed Despite Yourself

I am more likely to write, if I go to the library after work. I am less likely to write, if I go home after work. I am writing this post from home after work.

Sometimes I succeed despite myself.

It’s frustrating… Last night before bed, I had my day planned out:

  1. Go to work.
  2. Go to The Bitter End Café and write a blog post.

That was the plan, but my plan got derailed when I realized that I was on the first mile of a thousand mile journey to a cafe of the same name in New York, New York, not Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I decided that it was a lost cause, so I closed Google Maps and headed home.

For 99.9% of the day I KNEW that I was more productive away from my apartment, but for that 0.1% of the day just after I realized I was New York bound, I KNEW that I was more productive at home. The rest of the way home, I recognized my mistake, but continued home anyway.

I know what the best thing to do is, yet I take action against it. I have a plan, a goal and reasons for my plan and goal, yet I take action against both.

Do I want to fail? Do I want to be unproductive? Do I want to procrastinate?

A condescending teacher or a pretentious psychology major would say that I want to fail. That I am purposely procrastinating or ‘being lazy’,  but that’s not the case. No one wants to be these things.

We want to be comfortable. We want to be relaxed. We want to do something easy. It’s our primitive instincts. It’s only when our high executive functioning kicks in that we face the uncomfortable and difficult. When we override our instinctual need for comfort.

Writing is neither comfortable, nor easy, so everyday is a battle.

Succeed Despite Yourself

Despite illogical logic and irrational rationale, I still find a way to get work done more times than not and so do you. Everyone does things they don’t want or ‘don’t feel like’ doing; however the most productive and successful people don’t avoid discomfort as much as others. The following are three things that help me overcome my innate desire for comfort and the ‘easy way’:

  1. You’re not trying to fail. You are not a failure because you took the easy route. You don’t want to fail. You don’t want to be lazy. It’s really simple – You didn’t have enough willpower to overcome your desire for comfort. It happens. Nobody’s perfect.
  2. Make it easier. Every time you don’t follow through with plans, take note of the tipping point. For me it was redirecting my route to the correct café. That was too much for me to overcome, so next time I will make sure I have the correct Bitter End Café typed into Google Maps before I leave work, or I will go to a cafe I know how to get to. Don’t make the difficult even more difficult. Establish a routine that is easy and reserve your energy to do the difficult important task.
  3. Stay present. So I drove home instead of to the coffee shop. So I looked at baseball metrics instead of writing a blog post. So I didn’t do what was planned… It’s easy to give up on a day once something goes wrong or you yourself do something wrong. Anyone who has tried sticking to any sort of diet knows this. I shouldn’t have ate that donut… I ruined my diet. I’ll start again tomorrow. Commence the self-sabotage: McDonalds for lunch, pizza for dinner, buttered popcorn night time snack, large Pepsi midnight beverage, two beers and pass out in my jeans. Stay present. All is not for naught with one or two or three or a hell of a lot more mistakes. The present moment is another opportunity. Take advantage of it this time.