Action & Habit: Eat an Elephant and Brush Your Teeth
If you are like me, you cringe when someone uses the term "life-hack". And to make things worse, the folks who beat it to death are typically those douchey, over-amped, keynote-speaker types who claim that their bundle of hacks "will hands down revolutionize the entirety of your existence as you now live it!".
I've come to learn a chunk about people like these. I've also come to learn a thing or two about perspective, specifically the kind of inspired and optimistic perspective that begets action. These motivational-speed-freaks are obviously doing something right, because they're as rich as a buttered tit, but are their hacks really the keys to their kingdom? Have they really stumbled upon a truth or framework for success that was previously completely unknown? No and no.
We are all humans and we all have pain points. Unless we are marinating in a self-pity pool isolated from the outside world in a mental penitentiary, we are typically downright carnivorous for personal success stories that vividly parallel our problem. This is a most powerful ether indeed! So much so that we frequently buy into solutions, services, and systems that we would have never sanely entertained prior to the "pitch". We see this all the time with infomercials, affiliate marketing schemes, and even religions.
Let's not digress too far though. We are in fact still talking about business, and the corner-cutting tid-bits that actually can "revolutionize the entirety of your existence as you now live it." The power of the pumped-up-pitch is a force to be reckoned with, but I mean to hammer home a different point: relatable, problem based pitches inspire action. It's not the shine of the solution that sells the system, it's the persuasiveness of that parallel problem.
Getting inspired to act is indeed important, don't get me wrong, but we can do it all by ourselves. And in reality, we already know the solutions to most of our lifestyle problems anyhow. If we smoke we know we shouldn't, if we eat junk we know we should be buying more kale, and if we're lazy and procrastinatory we know we should be acting. Usually as soon as we have the thought "I know I shouldn't be doing 'x'" into our minds come a thousand REAL action steps that can be taken. So we know the issue, and we know the solutions. The problem is implementing any of them. The problem is starting.
The principle one uses when eating an elephant applies; It's a big fucker, of course, but you start somewhere, anywhere, and eat it "one bite at a time". I also heard recently, "The effort required to brush your teeth tonight, whether you've done it a thousand nights in a row or are brushing your teeth for the very first time, is always the same."
Inaction is psychological and action is physical. Doubt all you want, but when you put a foot forward you are taking a step forward (according to physics). I'm a firm believer that one cannot think their way into better action, one can only act their way into better thinking. Habit is really just muscle memory, and in my experience the lessons I teach my muscles stick stronger than any philosophy I've ever tried to wrap my head around.
There is no shiny tool that makes action easier. There is only action. And action removed from the realm of thought requires much less effort than we "think".
Eat a bite of your elephant tonight, and brush your teeth for god's sake.