How Can We Learn To Not Waste Our Efforts?

When we exercise, it makes us feel like we’ve accomplished something healthy. After an exercise, we can rationalize a post-workout food binge. Having an extra slice of our favourite pizza after a day of Netflix might bring guilt, but doing it after a 4km run feels like a justified treat. We’ve successfully managed to cancel out our exercise with an offset by a lot of food. The moral license to eat more ruins us. It isn’t about how much work we’ve put into exercise, because health and fitness doesn’t stop there. It starts from exercising and ends at the gap between what we’ve gain in our exercise and how much we’ve avoid offsetting that gain with what we consume.

Eating more than our exercise because we feel morally right to do so is an example of death by a thousand paper cuts.

When we earn more, it makes us feel like we’ve accomplished more financial success. When our income rises, we can rationalise higher spending power. It is as tempting as eating more after we’ve exercised. To a large extent, it feels right to do so. It feels earned. It feels justified. However, financial wellbeing is not being evaluated simply by looking at how much we earn. Much like exercise, the emphasis is on the gap between how much we earn and how much we avoid offsetting those earnings. It doesn’t matter whether we earn more or not until we understand that wealth building is really about saving an extra dollar and not having it being offset by a dollar of new spending.

The hard part isn’t about earning more money, but avoiding the post-earning urge to spend what we’ve accumulated thus far.

When we start to read a book, it feels like we’re got to complete it. It is difficult to distinguish between familiarity and utility. “This has always been how we’ve done it” becomes almost synonymous with “this is the best way to do it.” In the early stages of our lives, we’ve been taught in schools that we’ve got to grind our way till the last page of books. However, reading becomes a chore if we insist on finishing every book we begin. It is like a redundant meeting that is held for the sake of being held. There will be books that feel like they’re personalized for us and potentially change our perspective on life. On the other hand, there will be books that we can hardly get past the first chapter no matter how many stars it receives. With this in mind, we got to strive for lots of input and a strong filter. If a book is interesting enough to grab our attention, no matter what field or culture it is from, pick it up and read it. If it doesn’t make the cut after the first few pages, move on to the next book. Much like indulging in a huge meal after exercise and overspending after a pay raise, the act of completing a book does not necessarily serve us well.

Now that we’re out of school, books take on a different role of it being optimized for learning more than testing.

It is alright to be terrified of the short run and optimistic about the long run. There will be days we won’t feel like exercising, days we feel the intense need to splurge a little more on ourselves and days we simply close our books after one page of reading. When it comes to development, it is easy to point out setbacks. Progress happens too slowly to notice and setbacks happen too fast to ignore. However, it is imperative to know that it is also equally easy to point out progress. It simply depends on choosing to look at longer timeframes. Steady improvement steps into the picture when we gradually learn to not waste our efforts by doing double-work. Doing double-work has insignificant effect in the short run, till we finally discover that our nonchalant disregard for discipline actually caused us more than we’ve realised.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Terence C.

There is a fine line between fishing and doing nothing. We would like to think that we’re fishing, but the truth is we don’t have the line.