The price to enter and exit activities is all you need.
Think about all the things you do for the sake of something else. All those times, dopamine was behind.
Life is built around the word “more.” You want more money. More recognition. More sexual partners. More sweet food. This sensation isn’t a choice you make but a reaction to the things you encounter, induced by dopamine.
Dopamine has nothing to do with the present. Anticipation is its specificity.
Are you going to ski tomorrow? Everything you’ll bring there; shoes, socks, a ski mask, you would be unable to think about them without dopamine.
From Egypt’s ancient pyramids to the latest startups in Silicon Valley, projects drive humans’ life. And projects exist because we can look forward to the future and get rewarded by dopamines spikes.
Instant gratification hack this capability. It let you this feeling of accomplishment without the hours of hardship.
We are prey to it more than ever. The world’s smartest brains are working day and night so that we can spend a little more time on Instagram, Tiktok, or Youtube.
Neuroscientists, Psychologists, and Medium guys wrote and talk about instant gratification in length and breadth with varying degrees of success. The conclusion is often the same:
To not feel miserable in the long run, It all comes down to our ability to make hard choices. To put off gratification.
“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.”
Let me add my stone to this topic with a surprisingly simple yet powerful mindset to approach hard choices.
Your days are a collection of activities. Your weeks, a collection of days. Months, a collection of weeks. Activities are to your life what molecules are to your body; basic building blocks.
Some activities are vital, like eating, sleeping, and earning money. Others not, like reading, watching TV, exercising, etc.
Activities sprinkle the path of your life. They are the steep curves and the barriers that direct and contain its vitality. To choose what activity you want to do and stick to it as long as you want is an incredible power.
Imagine that you own a mystic calendar on which you can plan what to do, when, and for how long. Then you execute what is intended as a robot.
If I could do this, I wouldn’t choose easy-to-fall-in activities. What’s the point of planning to watch a TV show before sleep if it’s already something I do without a magic planner?
Reading, cooking, exercising, learning something new, here are some activities that deserve a magic planner!
Doing them isn’t the problem. I do like reading, but only after watching the new video of Mark Rober on Youtube. And this story of my good friends on a trek in South America. And also the one of the girl I had a crush on in high school. By the way, did you see this video where a bunch of adorable Golden Retrievers splashes around in a pool?
The discipline to start is the blocking part. Stoping the ceaseless flow of dopamine is the hard choice.
I noticed that there is an in-and-out ticket for each activity. The price of these is willingness.
It requires more energy to enter reading Nietzsche than to play Mario Kart. On the contrary, I don’t need as much energy to leave reading. While leaving Mario Kart… That’s another kettle of fish!
Cheap in-tickets and expensive out-tickets are highly addictive and easy to fall into activities. High-cost in and low-cost out tickets are chores. Both expensive in and out are productive and fulfilling activities. Finally, cheap tickets are for vital ones, those you have to do anyway.
Look for activities with high-cost tickets. The high costs entry is the price to pay to escape instant gratification. The high costs exit is the reward for entering it.
Writing is kind of hard to start. But once I’m in it, I enjoy each step and let me get caught up for an hour or two easily.
What a great power it is to know the costs of activities! Not as much as the magic calendar, but anyway. It’s a relief to know that reading will cost you at the start, but you’ll enjoy throughout, and not regret it afterward.
Better! Don’t you think knowing these costs leaves the door open to strategies to reduce them?
Reduce Entering Costs
Make it obvious. Create a trigger so that you can’t miss it. It’s all about friction.
If the book you want to read is two meters high in your library, it’s even harder to start since you have to get out of the sofa to take a ladder to reach it.
Take it near your bed. Force you to read it before you sleep. Don’t break the chain and push yourself to do it every night. Open the book, read, even if it is two pages, read. Over time, the cost of entering this activity will decrease as the habit develops. Eventually, it will become an unmissable moment of your day!
Repeat this process for each activity you love but don’t do much. Apply a slightly different cost reduction strategies.