Due to loss aversion, people tend to be much more sensitive to losses than gains. Much moreso.
So, it can be interesting to model how people react to losses and potential losses and contrast that to how they react to gains and potential gains.
The first thing we can look at are incremental progressive results -- that's adding 30 minutes of focused work to your day on the most important project you've got in your life, vs. adding in eating a stack of candy bars in one sitting a couple times a week.
With either of those actions, you don't see much big change immediately. But the person who regularly chips away at important projects winds up with a huge stack of interesting things they've done and further opportunities to do more, plus greater pride in their work and enhanced quality of life. Whereas going through a stack of candy bars doesn't hurt so much immediately, but leads to lower energy and more lethargy and worse overall health and feeling over time.
People are quite bad at this. Hence, most people don't devote regular time to an important project that they're passionate about. And the obesity rates in the developed world are rising rapidly.
There's more factors to it than just loss aversion, but the need to block out time to the exclusion of easier and more pleasurable things stings right away as a cost (and working through important projects often requires confronting the ego, failing, and otherwise not having a good time in the short term at times) whereas eating candy bars is immediately enjoyable.
When the loss is immediate (doing something difficult), that action is often not done. When the loss is distant into the future (worse health, lower energy... at an unknown date) the action often gets taken.
There's no miracle cure to any of this, but there's a few that bear mentioning.
Just being mindful of the situation often helps choose better actions.
Making things more tangible through tracking can help -- what gets measured, gets managed.
Perhaps the best solution is the one Tynan shared with us -- learning to enjoy your day to day work no matter what.
Still, it remains a challenge -- maybe one of the most core challenges of building a really thriving life.
This seems more related to temporal discounting.
In the example you looked at, people are making a poor decision over a good one because they're valuing their present state over the future.
Loss aversion is when someone would willingly spend the 30 minutes per week to maintain a current client, but not to land a new one (assuming the results of their efforts were the exact same).
In other words, loss aversion is when both options are negatives (or positives) and our irrational minds make us favour one option over another more than we should. This calls for a reweighting of preferences. Temporal discounting is when we blatantly favour the present over the future and make choices that are indisputably bad for us. This calls for a complete upheaval of our decision making process.
So, there's this thing called reactance. If you're like most people, you've probably never heard of it, and yet it has huge implications for your life.
Reactance is a psychological phenomenon -- in response to loss of a freedom, loss of choice, or a perceived loss of freedom/choice, people are quite likely to feel psychological reactance.
Psychological reactance makes you want to push back against the new restrictions, to fight and combat them, to reassert yourself and control over your world.
This can be in the form of direct resistance or pushback against the loss of freedom, and increased desire for the prohibited action.
But it does a lot of other things, too. Reactance causes people to like and enjoy whatever their threatened freedom is more than they liked it in the past, often permanently. Reactance causes people to want to reestablish freedom/control through similar types of behavior -- like increased eating of junkfood in response to being prohibited from drinking alcohol.
I occasionally mention my diet, which has spawned some questions in a recent thread as well as in my survey results.
So this week I'm going to explain my diet in detail, focusing on what I eat, why I eat it, and the facts behind the food.
The ideas aren't mine originally, and I'm certainly not the only person to eat this way, but I call it the MaxDiet because there is no formal name for it, and from the research I've done it appears to be the best possible diet.