Nothing will come to you without putting work and effort in. But what should I be doing to become a better person? Everyone will have a different reply to that question. Whether you are trying to excel at business, art, or health there are an infinite number of “proven” paths to take. Unfortunately you won’t know if any of them work if you don’t stick with them for that long. Looking at the habits I have there are many that can be cut out of my life that would have quite an effect on achieving long term goals.
In the “War Of Art” Steven Pressfield teaches the forms of resistance that can stop you from succeeding in your art. Personally my biggest resistance to accomplish anything has always been procrastination. Pushing your work to the next day, or after this game, or after a few drinks, or just a few more minutes on Facebook, these are all habits that have tricked me to pushing off working on anything meaningful. What could I have been doing instead of 16 hours of grinding in World of Warcraft. Don’t get me wrong it’s an amazing, addicting world but I could have been on a hike in the Adirondacks or mountain biking down Whiteface. It did keep me out of the bars though so there is an upside to everything.
The Carrot on a Stick
One of the most important early “trinkets” in Warcarft was the carrot on a stick. Essentially your mount would chase the carrot so you would go faster. In the game you are always chasing the figurative “carrot on a stick”. You do this dungeon or that quest to get tiny increase in XP, gold or gear. Every once in awhile you may get a large jump in gear with an epic or now even a “Legendary” item. The quests, dungeons and raids are designed to make you think “just one more time and my character will be so much better. In reality you’re pretty much the same character, you’re still just pushing the same 6 buttons on your keyboard and still playing the exact same game you were at level 1. Even after years of in-game time you’re still doing the exact same thing. If you click on the pic below you can see how much time I put in and I was considered a “casual” player. There are players who easily quadrupled the amount of time I invested.
OMFG A Legendary Dropped! Time for Mythic+
We do the same thing with the stuff we buy, our jobs and relationships. If I buy this I’ll feel so much better, one more raise and I’ll be able to catch up on bills, one more episode of The Walking Dead, or this next girl/guy will definitely be the one for me.
Unfortunately the short term “carrot on a stick” goal just keep you procrastinating on your actual dreams and what you actually want to do. You will end up just day dreaming and never sitting down to actually work on your real long term goals.
Replacing the Carrot on the Stick Habits
So lets say we’ve finally broken some habits, what do I replace them with? I can’t just go to sleep at 7pm? (no that is not an option) Below I’ve highlighted a few of my habits that I’ll be discussing in future blogs. All these habits will help me with my long term goals.
Positive Habits in no particular order
- Working on this blog daily.
- Reading more fiction and non-fiction
- Working out and eating healthy
- Biking (even more than I already do)
So the lure of the carrot on the stick is there is always something to look forward to. No matter how small the gain, it was still a gain and keeps you interested. The best way to show those micro-increases in the results of your work is to track the progress. Luckily we have smartphones to take care of all the tracking. Apps like Evernote, Mindnode, HabitBull, MapMyRide and MyFitnessPal have been my go-to apps for the past year or so. They can track daily pretty much anything you can dream of. Add in a Fitbit Wristband and you can have constant stats fed to you. Nothing like watching the graph of how many pushups you can do go up everyday, or crossing off another project done in Mindnode. If I’m not tracking my progress, I’m doomed.
When all is said and done, it’s up to yourself to keep on track. I suppose you could try and make new better habits without tracking I would end up losing incentive if i didn’t have that little +1 strength, +1 intellect coming in every daily. Sure I could sit around and pray that I will be a better person, but the only way to insure it happens is through the daily work. (oh and yes I’ve let my WOW account expire, anyone want to buy an 863 iLevel priest?)