Reader Joe Geneva sent this to me via email, I thought it was quite good and he kindly let me share it -
Hi Sebastian, just wanted to remark upon something I've seen lately. The sheer amount of opportunity around me.
In any given day there's more opportunity then you will ever have time for, probably more then anyone one person can use. Yet we don't use it. We procrastinate or rationalize, we make excuses for ourselves and for others, and talk among ourselves about why we can't achieve things, or put ourselves down. We never truly seem to recognize how much sheer opportunity there is to be taken.
I often hear people remarking about being bored. This irritates the hell out of me, especially when I'm somewhere where i know for a fact there's 20 easily found activities to do. Why do people seem totally oblivious to this... do they have no motivation to improve themselves, or think they are already perfect or something.. It seems a bit mystifying why people don't constantly look for ways to get better at things.
Now after all this criticism its time to talk about myself a bit, and touch on another subject. Why is it so hard to improve ourselves? I don't mean improve our productive time or finding things to learn, i mean why is the desire to get better so hard to achieve, and especially see the big picture. For example, if you give it some thought, you can take any problem, break it into its basic components, figure out what you need to learn, then Google it. It's that easy (for those of us with internet). Yet we don't do it nearly as much as we should. I could list about 20 things off the top of my head to Google right now, information that might alter my life immediately. Yet its really hard to go through with it... As though we were actively holding back ourselves.
I know you've already written extensively about getting things done in general, but I figured I would bring this point up, as I don't remember this specific part of it addressed..
Good stuff, Joe... that was dense with good insights. Lots of opportunity. Improving things is a great solution to boredom. Self-training in the Age of Google is easier than ever before. Very good stuff - thanks for sharing this with us.
I just posted a new article at Less Wrong - "Steps to Achievement: The Pitfalls, Costs, Requirements, and Timelines." This is a little bit longer and more dry than I write for my blog, but I think there's some very important things in here.
If you're interested in goals and achievement, there's quite a lot of meat here. I'm putting the full version up here and please feel very welcome to comment here on this topic, but also consider heading over to Less Wrong, grab a free account, and start participating there. As I described in "You Should Probably Study Rationality," it's a wonderful community.
Reply to: Humans Are Not Automatically Strategic
In "Humans Are Not Automatically Strategic," Anna Salamon outlined some ways that people could take action to be more successful and achieve goals, but do not:
This laziness problem of mine...it's not universal.
My 'save energy for the lion' hypothesis is being proven wrong.
See, people like Mella, like Jernej, like Michael...they don't stagnate. They rest, the recover, they rejuvinate. But they don't waste energy when it's plentiful.
I think I am an addict. A stagnation addict.
Even though I don't deeply enjoy being lazy, I still do it. I feel compelled to be lazy. It's just so easily accessable (if I have internet, I have an open portal to endless stagnation).