Training Regime Day 23: TAPs 2

by Mark Xu2 min read27th Apr 2020No comments


Trigger-Action PlanningTechniquesRationalityPractical


N. K. Jemisin:

Seasons will reduce the world to such miserly dreams.

When I read this, my first thought was "just like adulthood."

Children have dreams. When I was little, I wanted to be a nuclear physicist. I didn't really know what that meant, but I wanted to be one. Probably not for good reasons, but I still wanted - that much I remember.

Adults often don't have dreams. They live their daily lives and most of them don't want anything. The charitable interpretation is that they have already gotten most of what they want. The uncharitable interpretation...

Learned helplessness happens when one is repeatedly subject to adverse stimuli beyond your control. What happens to someone when they want things for an entire childhood and they don't get most of them? What happens to a person when they only ever reach their small dreams?

Adulthood reduces humans to such miserly dreams.

Sometimes, I call CFAR a giant neon sign that says "HEY, HAVE YOU CONSIDERED SOLVING YOUR PROBLEMS?" Because that was one of the primary benefits for me; I felt like I was given permission to try and fix all the things that bothered me, even when so many other people didn't seem to care.

I'm personally giving you permission to want things and work to get them - permission to not give up on your dreams. I give you this permission even if your dreams are immense. I especially give you this permission if your dreams are impossible.

TAP for Dreams

Everyone carries around a vision better world - a dream of how they would remake society, if they were given the power. Everyone has a giant pile of flexes and grievances and wishes - the infinite many things that are not-quite-right with our current world.

Sometimes there are large (may 1000 curses fall upon Moloch), but sometimes they're just tiny wishes (why is all paint not whiteboard paint?). Magnitude matters less than existence.

Everyone has this vision, but it's often not accessible. Often times, there's pieces of the world that fail their vision and people don't realize.

1. Trigger: Flex against the current state of the world

* For me, this often manifests as irritation/frustration/violated expectation

2. Action: Notice what you're flexing against and think of ways to fix it

* For me, this often involves thinking about purchasing an object that solves your problem. I think people should trade money pretty aggressively for quality-of-life, conditional on them having enough of the former.


I got frustrated with my notebook being small, so I got a larger one.

I got frustrated with my keyboard requiring too much force, so I got one that required less force.

I got irritated with back pain, so I bought a better chair.

I got irritated that my head hit my showerhead, so I got a shower head height extender.

I got frustrated that I had to hold my books while I read them, so I got a book holder.

I got irritated that I was thirsty, so I drank water.

I got frustrated that I was tired, so I went to sleep/took a nap.

I got frustrated that my desk was disorganized, so I organized it.

I got irritated my post-its were colored because it made it harder to see the writing, so I got white post-its.

I got irritated at having to fill my pill-container once a week, so I got 3 more.

I got frustrated that my monitor blocked my shelf, so I moved my shelf. (Embarrassingly, it took me 3 days to remember shelves can be moved.)

I didn't like my shampoo, so I got different shampoo.

Look, I know that most/all of these things are kind of dumb sounding. I also claim that solving dumb-sounding problems makes your life a lot better. Consider the Pareto principle to apply.


Notice all the times you flex against things that you would normally ignore, then solve them instead of ignoring them. Being frustrated means you want to world to be a different shape.

Don't give up on dreams.