I'm really thrilled to bring you a guest post by Dan Andrews. He runs a product development company in San Diego, runs the Tropical MBA blog, and the Lifestyle Business Podcast. Some really good insights on there, and he's a really solid guy too. Here's Dan -
Try Losing Some Moral Battles and Winning Some Real Ones
When you are bemoaning the success or victory of others, you are generally seeking to achieve a sort of victory yourself. Let's call this a moral victory. Moral victories are addicting. You can achieve them at will. They magically appear whenever you need a boost.
Moral victories do one thing: they make losers feel like they’ve gotten some victory.
Moral victories are popular with people when they feel like they have no real power to make changes in the world. This makes some sense to me-- building power, wealth, and influence is generally difficult.
I think it's a good strategy to put off moral victories and operate as somebody who has the potential to make a real impact. If you act like someone with real power, you are more likely to achieve it. Try the following strategies.
● You decide to stop complaining completely (as best you can) Read Tim Ferriss’ “Real Mind Control: 21 Day No Complaint Experiment.”
● When you feel jealousy you instead stop and focus on appreciating the principles that led to some sort of success in the world, even if those principles were carried out in a way, or by a person you find intolerable.
● You cultivate a small identity and inspire critical feedback about your person and projects. Read Paul Graham’s article on “Keep Your Identity Small.”
The more success I achieve, and the better I get at building the things I'd like to see in the world, the less I bemoan the success of others. I give less and less a shit about what other people, governments, and organizations who are irrelevant to my projects have to say or do.
This is a big change for me. My development years were spent trying to intelligently criticize those things going on in my sphere of thinking.
I don’t mind intelligent criticism at all, I probably love it too much.
That’s why I remind myself that my beloved criticism loves to masquerade in victory’s attire.
"Moral victories are addicting." This is very true. I have read a lot of articles about this and they have the same view as yours.
See, I've been told this, but frankly I just don't think I'm ever going to win. I'm not even sure I want to. Who says I have to be powerful? Power sucks when you've got it. My dad was powerful. My grandfather was powerful. It wasn't worth it.
Who the fuck says we all have to succeed?
If you don't mind me asking, how old is Dan? His points are appear to be from someone who has had alot of "life experience". I'll be turning 40 next week and have been going through a lot of 'self analysis' as of late. His points are basically what I'm going to try and live by for the rest of my days. Thanks for sharing.
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:
Let's begin this blog with a picture of the sun rising over the ocean as viewed from Hana in Maui Hawaii. This is the first sunrise I've seen over the ocean, and it was breathtaking. I’ve put this off for a while now, but what better way to start a blog then to begin with a mini article discussing mini habits and goals. This might be a bit rough around the edges or contain thoughts that are still being clarified. The purpose is to start.
I can’t necessarily speak for other people, but I know that a lot of time when I become stagnant in life or I don’t begin or finish a goal its because I’m not focusing on the small gains, rather the large steps ahead. When you create a mini habit, you're taking small action often that helps lead you towards being successful in life goals or purpose. Mini habits can be the small things you do in life that give you a small edge. Examples are: putting the laundry away as soon as its done, cleaning a dirty dish instead of letting piles stack up, responding to email right away instead of putting it off till later in the week, or setting your keys and wallet and personal items in a group in the same place so you don't spend time searching for them.
When you create mini goals, or subgoals of a larger goal, or a sub action that is related to a larger goal you remove the large pressure of achieving something big. If I go into the gym for the first time in a year with a goal to bench 250lb and I struggle with 135lb, I would imagine I would be very discouraged because the goal seems so very far out. But if I instead shift my focus and attitude of success towards just making it to the gym 3 days a week, I’m taking a small step in the larger direction of being in better shape, being healthier, and ultimately achieving that larger goal I may have set.
Mini habits and goals can be intertwined and work with each other. As part of being healthier socially I may make the habit of having eye contact with people I pass on the street and smiling, or maybe saying hi or starting small conversations with someone at the bus stop, or the waiter at the restaurant. To be healthier and in better shape I may drink a glass of water every time I pass the break room at work, or suggest a coworker climb the stairs with me once an hour every hour, or have my vitamins out on my nightstand when I go to bed so they're right in front of me to take when I wake up in the morning.