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pjeby comments on Poll results: LW probably doesn't cause akrasia - Less Wrong

47 Post author: AnnaSalamon 16 November 2011 06:03PM

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Comment author: pjeby 16 November 2011 05:17:52PM *  14 points [-]

"I am doing X because Y." "Y does not motivate me to do X."

That's a flat-out contradiction. It means you've either mis-stated something or one of the statements is wrong.

In this case, it's the first statement that's inaccurate. First, you're not "doing school to improve your chances on the market"... because, as stated, you're not actually doing it, except for a few days out of most weeks.

So what you probably mean is, "I intend to do school to improve my chances on the market". But this statement is still false, unless it is also true that "I intend to improve my chances on the market". Do you, in actual fact, intend to improve your chances on the market?

I expect not. Rather, I expect that your motivation is to appear to be the sort of person who you think you would be if you were ambitiously attempting to improve your chances on the market... which is not really motivating enough to actually DO the work. However, by persistently trying to do so, and presenting yourself with enough suffering at your failure to do it, you get to feel as if you are that sort of person without having to actually do the work. This is actually a pretty optimal solution to the problem, if you think about it. (Or rather, if you DON'T think about it!)

In other words, your real conflicts here quite likely have almost nothing to do with your overtly stated goals and problems.

[Edit to add: properly expanded, your real intention statement is probably something more like, "I am having (an intention to do school to improve on the market) in order to be consistent with characteristic X of my desired ideal self-image"]

Comment author: tetsuo55 16 November 2011 05:27:37PM *  0 points [-]

I cannot find any flaw in your statement. If it where just up to me I would just forget about school and give up. But it's not up to me.

I need to find a way to find the motivation to actually do the school work, but nothing i can come up with seems to work..

Blockers that come to mind are: "I'll fail the exams and have to pay extra money to do them again" "The information is so densly packed i can't follow half of it" "I say that i can accept a 6/10 but i don't really believe that(i want at least 8/10)" The list goes on, i think they are just excuses that hide the real feeling.

EDIT: i figured something out, I need to find a pet project or work project that the class is relevant for and then follow the class as a way to get that project done/improved. That way i have a directly related goal and no reason to procrastinate.

Comment author: pjeby 16 November 2011 05:35:51PM 0 points [-]

I figured something out, I need to find a pet project or work project that the class is relevant for and then follow the class as a way to get that project done/improved.

My guess is that will only help to the extent that it doesn't get you any closer to actually succeeding in school (in the big picture), but admittedly that guess is based on very little information. However, my general observation that such tricks work on the small scale but not the larger scale is a very well-established pattern, so I will be quite surprised and curious should your trick actually work.

Comment author: tetsuo55 16 November 2011 07:22:22PM 2 points [-]

Do you know of a better strategy?

Comment author: pjeby 16 November 2011 07:36:38PM 4 points [-]

Do you know of a better strategy?

Find out what is objectionable to you about being the kind of person who would enjoyably and successfully achieve the outcome you're intending to intend to have, and stop objecting to it.

For example, if your overt intention were to make a lot of money, but you noticed that your actual actions mysteriously kept interfering with that goal, then perhaps you apply the label "greedy" to people who actually make money, and would thus object to actually succeeding at that goal, because you yourself would become "greedy" by your own rules. The solution would be to stop disapproving of "greedy" people or change your rules for what constitutes being "greedy".

Of course, it's rarely that simple: you might actually avoid making money because it involves being "a suit" or "a sellout" or a "drudge" or any number of a bazillion labels you could attach to people on the basis of actions like yours.

The trick is to pay attention not only to what labels you'd apply to yourself if you achieved your ultimate goal (which itself is above the level of your overt goal), but also to what labels you'd apply if you were staying on task for more than a few days every few weeks. If you persisted, for example, would that make you a nerd or a bookworm, or be perceived as such by people in your life?

On the ultimate goal level, if you actually succeeded in improving your job marketability, would that make you be seen as an overambitious wannabe or "thinks he's better than us" by significant people in your life (e.g. family or co-workers)?

I don't claim that finding and fixing this is easy or even a "better" strategy, since (at least from your brain's point of view), your continual trying and failing may actually be an optimal compromise. ;-)

(Consider that, if you succeed, you very well may lose some of your existing friends and allies.)

Comment author: tetsuo55 16 November 2011 09:25:33PM 4 points [-]

Ok so i thought about it hard.

Here's what i think the problem is: I think people who finished school and have diploma's are chumps who fell for paper-to-prove skills game in a system that is easily gamable and as a result doesn't actually show anything about your skill.

I guess i've made it a point to prove that you don't need school to get shit done (i have the biggest house, earn the most, best car, etc.. of all my friends and family, it seems i DO care about showing off?)

What i've been stumped on for years though, is how to respect being a graduate.

Comment author: pjeby 16 November 2011 09:33:08PM 6 points [-]

think people who finished school and have diploma's are chumps who fell for paper-to-prove skills game in a system that is easily gamable and as a result doesn't actually show anything about your skill.

Test: imagine finishing school, and see if your spontaneous reaction is thinking you're a chump. If not, you're just speculating rather than actually observing your beliefs.

What i've been stumped on for years though, is how to respect being a graduate.

Stop disapproving of graduates. I.e., refrain from withholding your approval of them. Imagine a person who's a graduate, notice your disapproval (really, the muscle tensions that go with it), and then physically begin releasing them. You may also wish to ask yourself if there is any benefit to you from continuing to disapprove, or whether anything bad will happen if you begin approving of them.

If you have difficulty just letting go of it, I suggest this book, even though it is annoyingly repetitive and simple-minded. The repetition and simple-mindedness are actually a feature, not a bug, though it may not seem that way at first. If you aren't willing to endure a little boring repetition and simple-mindedness, though, you probably don't want your goal that much. ;-)

Still another method: if you can state your disapproval in the form of a "should" or "shouldn't" statement, you can rephrase to a statement of preference instead of one of judgment. e.g., "I would prefer not having to graduate" instead of "I shouldn't have to graduate."

Comment author: tetsuo55 16 November 2011 09:47:55PM 2 points [-]

Test result: I feel really happy and relieved, i finally belong in the group and people will stop nagging me about it, i can put it all behind me. I'm not a chump at all, in fact, i'm (finally) normal.

I do feel forced to finish school, just because everyone else has done so and I have to live up to the expectations of society. (I also live in a country where without a diploma they don't even invite you for an interview).

I have trouble letting go of stuff in general (i have OCD) so i might just read that book anyway.

I shouldn't have to finish school because others want me to, but because i want to of my own free will.

(You know i love playing RPG's and maxing out all the skill trees and side quest badges, these are really no different from school (in my school i'll actually get 32 different badges in addition to the diploma)

Comment author: thomblake 16 November 2011 09:43:38PM 3 points [-]

Ok so i thought about it hard.

Upvoted for apparently taking more than 5 minutes.

Comment author: pjeby 16 November 2011 09:54:05PM 7 points [-]

Upvoted for apparently taking more than 5 minutes.

For this type of "thinking", it's not really duration that matters. 5 seconds of noticing your spontaneous emotional reaction to an imagined stimulus is much more likely to be useful than 5 minutes of "thinking" that consists of making up stories that seem to explain things.