How happy are you with your life right now? If you’re like most people, you probably have a list of major changes you’ve wanted to make. You may even have looked at the current pandemic as your chance to work on yourself and get your life where you want it to be.
Now tell me, how far HAVE you gotten on that list? The odds are not very far. You probably attacked it like a man possessed… only to find your motivation and desire drained away. Now you’re basically back where you started, just more frustrated than before and wondering why you’re such a failure.
Except, you’re not a failure. Honestly, you were always going to end up in this situation. Because here’s a secret: this was always going to backfire on you because you — like most people — were going about this the wrong way.
That’s why today I’m going to teach you the 5 things you need in order to get your life together. Let’s do this.
- What everyone gets wrong about self-improvement
- Why your problem isn’t a lack of discipline or willpower
- How you accidently sabotage your own progress
- Why most self-improvement plans fall apart within weeks, if not days
- How ritual and routine leads to success
… and so much more.
The Dating Accelerator Program
Starting From Zero
How To Take Dating to the Next Level
5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Social Skills
Maintaining Positive Changes in Your Life
How To Improve Your Willpower
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Hey everyone, Harris O’Malley from doctornerdlove.com, brought to you by my generous patrons at patreon.com/drnerdlove and I have a question for you: how many of you are happy with your life right now?
You probably have a list of major changes you’ve wanted to make. You may even have looked at the current pandemic as your chance to it all happen.
Now tell me… how far HAVE you gotten on that list? If you’re like most people, you probably attacked it like a man possessed… only to find your motivation and desire drained away. Now you’re basically back where you started, just more frustrated than before and wondering why you’re such a failure. Except, you’re not a failure. Honestly, you were always going to end up in this situation.
Here’s a little secret: it was always going to backfire on you. Not because there’s anything wrong with you — you’re NOT a failure — but because you, like most folks were trying to make changes in the worst way possible.
More often than not, when you’re trying to make major improvements to your life and reach lofty goals, you’re trying to will yourself into making it happen. And that’s not going to work.
Maybe you saw that tweet going around about how if you don’t come out of quarantine with a new side-hustle or a new skill, then it’s proof that you didn’t need time, you just lack discipline.
Yeah… that’s bullshit. Ignoring the obvious things like people who are working from home AND balancing child care, maybe having to home-school and the way that the stress of the pandemic actually weighs on your mind, the fact is that discipline and willpower aren’t enough. Not because your willpower is weak or because you’re not disciplined enough, but because everything — from your environment to your biology is arrayed against you.
It’s very tempting to believe that with enough grit and fortitude and discipline, you can accomplish ANYTHING. And you can… right up until you can’t, which happens a lot sooner than you’d realize. And that’s true for EVERYONE.
The problem is that willpower is a limited resource, and you’re fighting against influences that you don’t see, which saps your willpower and your energy every day.
You have a number of emotional and mental habits that you aren’t aware of, psychic triggers that you’ve built up through repetition and association. You have the couch you always fall asleep on, the room where you can’t concentrate on work because you’re always being drawn to the TV and your gaming console. These are almost Pavolovian responses that you weren’t aware you that were training yourself into having. And now that you’re trying to do things differently, you’re having to fight against all those associations and habits… which saps your drive and your will.
That’s why you can’t just WILL yourself into making better decisions and achieving your goals. It’s why so many of your attempts at getting your life together have failed. If you want to achieve more… you need to do less.
No, for real. Your brain is lazy. It wants to conserve energy. This is a survival technique; not expending energy means that you don’t need as many resources to survive. Doing stuff requires energy. Building new habits requires even MORE energy. It’s more efficient to stick with what you already do… even when those old behaviors and habits are emotionally upsetting or unfulfilling.
If you want to get your life together, then you need to know how to maximize your chances of making positive changes and making them stick… without exhausting yourself in the process.
These are the 5 things you need if you want to make your life better.
#1: Cut down on the things that sap your attention and willpower.
The first thing you need to remember is that willpower is limited — and you’re expending it in ways you don’t realize. The more things you have to try to will yourself to resist or to do, the faster you end up burning through it.
We live in an age where everything is competing for your time and attention. Having to constantly resist those temptations leaves you with less willpower and energy to do the things you want or NEED to do.
Social media — especially Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — are a classic example. The constantly updating nature of social media is a near-permanent distraction. Social media pages are designed to maximize the amount of time you spend on the sites, and the badges and notifications serve to tweak your brain and make you need to go see what just happened. The urge to “check Twitter real quick” pulls you away from whatever you were doing and now you’ve lost an hour without realizing it.
That happened to me AS I WAS WORKING ON THIS EPISODE. I got sucked into a long Twitter thread and all it’s little sub-discussions. So if you want to get your life together, then you have to start making yourself aware of all those time and attention sucks. This includes social media, video games, television… the things that cut into the time that you want to use to work on yourself and pull you away from your goals.
You don’t need to cut them out entirely, but you DO want to cut down on as many distractions and draws on your time, attention and will as possible. Making changes of any sort is already an uphill climb. You want to make sure that you’re not making it harder by expending your energy on unnecessary things.
But that actually leads us into the NEXT tip.
#2: Make it easier to do the things you WANT to do more of. Make it HARDER to do the things you’re trying to avoid.
Here’s the thing about human nature: we want to take the easy path. If one option is easier than the other, we’re much more likely to pick that one… even when the difference is fairly minimal.
This is especially true when it comes to those little impulsive choices that we don’t think about. When you’re hungry and want a snack, the odds are that you’re going to pick the choice that’s nearest to hand and easiest to access. That’s why it’s easier to hit up the office vending machine for a candy bar than it is to run down to the corner store for an apple or a cup of sliced melon.
You can actually use this to your advantage, in a way that helps you make the choices you want to make and avoid making the choices that you don’t. By making the positive or desirable choice simpler and easier to achieve, you end up expending less willpower. You don’t have to work as hard to resist the choices you’re trying to avoid AND you don’t have to motivate yourself as much to make the choice you know you SHOULD be making. Take cutting down on time sucks and distractions. If you have to actively ignore social media, then you’re draining your willpower. But if you make it just a little less convenient, then you don’t have to work as hard.
Turning on Do Not Disturb, for example, cuts out the non-vital notifications, the ones designed to make you hop back on Facebook or Twitter. Using apps or browser extensions like Freedom or RescueTime — which I’ve linked to in the description — lets you block websites that would otherwise eat away your time.
If you’re trying to get in the habit of eating healthy, having fruit easily available while the junk food is at the back of the cabinet makes it much easier to grab an apple instead of the chips when you’re having a craving. If you’re trying to cut back on, say, your out of control Diet Dr. Pepper habit — just to pull a completely random example out of the air — having a bottle of water next to you means you’re less likely to walk the extra ten feet to grab a soda from the fridge. Even putting your Xbox controller in a drawer — or taking out the batteries — makes it that much simpler to avoid losing hours to gaming.
By that same token, cutting down on the steps that it takes to do the thing you want, reduces the amount of energy and effort it takes to do them. Laying out your exercise clothes before you go to bed makes it easier throw them on and go for a jog when you wake up in the morning. Preparing meals in advance on Sunday means you have to expend less energy deciding what to eat and then cooking during the week. This applies to improving your social skills as well. If you leave your phone powered off — or leave it in the car or what have you — when you make your morning Starbucks run, it’s harder to use your phone as an excuse to avoid talking to people.
A lot of you may notice that none of this prevents you from, say, falling down the YouTube rabbit hole and wasting hours of time. It’s pretty simple to shut off the app or to just dig into the cabinet for that bag of salt and vinegar chips that’ve been calling your name. But the fact that there’s a couple of extra steps — no matter how minor — means that it’s easier to resist. And having the more desirable option closer to hand makes it easier to make THAT choice instead of having to FORCE yourself into it.
#3: Use Routines, Ritual and Structure To Build To Success.
The hardest part of self-improvement is the difficulty in breaking old habits and building new ones. There are a number of roadblocks that stand in the way of making long term changes stick, that includes everything from the ease of falling into old habits, to the inability to pay what’s known as the opportunity cost.
There are only so many hours in the day, which means that anything you do comes at the expense of time to do something else. Deciding that you want to add something to your life — working out more, for example — means that you’ll have less time for other activities. Running every day means that time is going to have to come from something else. It may mean getting up earlier, having less time for video games or simply spending less time farting around on the Internet.
All of this requires willpower… and running out of willpower means you’re less likely to make the necessary choices.
In order to make it easier to make and maintain those changes,
you want to to get to a point where it just becomes Something That You Do. The quickest and simplest way is simply to use routines, ritual and structure in order to build it into your daily life.
You already have rituals in your life that you don’t think about; they’re just the things you do, more or less on autopilot. The first thing I do in the morning after I get up is go clean the coffee pot and make a fresh pot of coffee.
Granted, this is usually because I forgot to do it the night before, but at this point, it’s how I start my morning. You likely have similar rituals, the things you do every day. Incorporating the changes you want to make into your routine makes it much easier to maintain them. And by having structure in your life — a set schedule or routine that you follow every day — you make it easier to keep those changes without thinking. It means that you know what you’re going to do, without having to spend time or energy deciding.
If you know that you go jogging on Mondays and Wednesdays, do yoga on Tuesdays and Thursdays and weights on Fridays and Sundays, you don’t have to expend additional effort to say “OK, today I’m going to go running… but my feet are tired and it’s kind of ugly out and I haven’t checked the turnip prices yet…”
Similarly, if you make a point of going out every Thursday evening to work on being social, it becomes routine for you. You don’t have to motivate yourself to make this extra effort. It’s just something you do. The longer you do it, the more it becomes the emotional equivalent of muscle memory. You don’t have to think about it, you don’t have to expend extra energy to make it happen, it becomes something you do without having to think about it.
At the same time, having routines and structure also means that you’ve carved out the time to make it happen. You know that from the hours of 3 to 4, you’re going to be doing X. That means you don’t have those moments of “Oh I was GOING to cook dinner or hit the gym or do that Rosetta Stone lesson but oops, spent too long on Gears Tactics.”
And honestly: there’s a certain comfort in keeping a routine going. Knowing your schedule for the day — even if it’s just certain hours each day — is one less thing you have to think of… which makes it easier to use your willpower in OTHER areas where you might need it.
#4: If It’s Not Fun, You Won’t Do It.
This one can be tricky. Part of why it’s so easy to let the changes you’re making to your life fall by the wayside is that frankly… a lot of them suck. I don’t care how devoted you are to your clean food diet, there’re few things that are as amazing as the right combination of sugar, fat, salt and carbs. The calorie is how we measure how delicious something is.
The same goes for exercise. Some folks may get the runners high, but the REST of us got some bad shit because when we’re done, we don’t feel amazing, mostly we’re praying for the sweet release of death.
But the more you can find ways to make those changes something you enjoy doing — or at least something you can tolerate alongside something you DO enjoy — the easier it is to stick with it.
Sometimes that means finding a version of whatever it is you’re doing that you find fun. Some people don’t like jogging… but if you gamify it with an app like Zombies, Run then you’re much more likely to stick with it. It’s easier to maintain a habit when you’re playing as Runner 5 and dodging zombies than it is to just do wind-sprints. Plus if you’ve always said that the only way you’d run is if you were chased…
Martial arts, basketball, dance classes or even Dance Dance Revolution are all ways of getting cardio in without it FEELING like you’re exercising. Alternately, you may have to double things up. For me, running or going to the gym are how I get caught up on podcasts or shows. Certain shows or YouTube videos are my designated workout shows, and those are the only times I watch them.
You can apply this to other areas of life as well. For a lot of folks, finding areas where you can develop your social skills — and meet people in the process — is difficult. The idea of, say, going to the bar and talking to strangers is their vision of hell. But if you’re going to an event based around something you already enjoy — a geeky MeetUp, a convention, a gaming event — it’s much easier to talk to folks. You already know you have things in common and you have an instant conversation starter baked into the event.
It may take a little thinking outside the box to find a way to make certain improvements more fun, but finding whatever kludge works for you can help bridge the gap until you reach the point where you enjoy the activity for itself.
Finally we have:
#5: You Have To Do The Actual Work… the Right Way
This part trips people up. Remember what I said about how our brains are lazy? This doesn’t just apply to the amount of willpower and discipline it takes to get started… it also applies to the ways we trick ourselves into thinking that we’re actually doing the work.
One of the most obvious examples of this are the folks who will get into a research spiral. If you, for example, read book after book on dating and watch video after video about social skills, it can FEEL like you’re making progress. But all you’re really doing is tricking yourself; it feels like you’re working when in reality, you’re just delaying things. You’re spinning your wheels, not putting in the ass-in-chair time.
Er… metaphorically speaking.
Now I get it. The work it takes to get better at anything can seem like a long and intimidating slog. It’s understandable that you’re going to look for things that make it seem easier or faster or let you put it it off.
It’s part of why people get sucked into scams or buy into grifters who’ll teach you “magical” ways of getting women into bed. It feels faster and easier than, y’know, going out, talking to people and learning to be more charismatic. It’s also why it’s easy to assume that positive change is impossible and just give up. Believing that only certain people can be good with women and everyone else is fucked is easier than recognizing that social success is about practice and effort — it’s just practice that most folks aren’t aware that they were doing in the first place.f
But at the same time, you may also be psyching yourself out of actually putting in the work by assuming that you can only do it in huge, Olympian chunks. We see people talking about their multi-hour workouts or their four thousand word writing sprints and assume that the only way to improve is that you have to have equally epic sessions… and you don’t.
If all you have is 15 minutes to get a workout in, then work out for 15 minutes. If you do that three to five days a week, that adds up quickly. If you can only write in 500 word bursts, then do that. 500 words, 5 days a week gives you a novel in about 5 months.
You can improve your social skills just talking with folks at lunch or waiting to get your coffee in the morning. You can improve your diet with one meal at a time.
The key isn’t making massive, epic changes. That’s how you burn out and backslide. Small changes that don’t require as much effort or willpower are easier to start, easier to maintain and easier to build on. They may seem insignificant… but they add up fast. Doing more by doing less lets you make significant, LASTING changes for a lot less effort.
And one more thing that helps make significant improvements in your life: having a community of like-minded folks who are working on the same things you are, and someone to help guide you through the process. This is why I’m starting the Dating Accelerator program — an 8 week seminar where I will be teaching you and a limited number of students how to transform your dating life and help you find the social success you’ve always wanted.
Right now, I’m taking a limited number of students for the beta test and — like I’ve said — I’ve extended the sign ups for this because of the pandemic and to give folks a chance to get settled and more secure before deciding whether it’s time for them to invest in themselves, but the sign-up WILL close soon. And because this is the beta test, people who sign up now are getting the beta test prices; the price WILL go up later on, so if you want in, now’s the time.
Visit https://nerdloveacademy.com/the-dating-accelerator-program/ or click the link in the show notes to learn more and to reserve YOUR spot.