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Please do! That's fascinating

"You'll feel so much better" and "it's healthy" were the main reasons I was told to start exercising. I guess that's true, but after lifting for 7 years consistently, the main thing I noticed that no one told me was "you'll gain this superpower of every social interaction being a bit tilted more in your favor". Getting a good haircut for the first time ever probably helped too. The difference in how I'm listened to and treated is clear - people are much more interested in what I have to say.

(Off topic, but I wish there was something like an aesthetician shop, focused empirically on appearing as good as possible. They could give you a haircut, recommend you clothes, do your eyebrows, etc. I think these exist but my guess is that the real thing is in a walled garden, i.e. you have to be somebody. I'd love this because I don't really care how I look personally - I'd want someone to figure that out for me)

Commenting here to complete my 30 day streak. I'll write up my final exam sometime this week and edit this with a link. I really appreciated the sequence! A lot has happened over the last month and it was nice to have a Hammertime post to return to every day.

edit: Looks like I didn't keep my promise!

A while back in high school, a talented acquaintance of mine started promoting their music before it was good. They did the whole nine yards - bought fake social media followers, created their own fan pages, bought ads, a photoshoot, etc. They would not stop talking about their upcoming success in the music industry. Almost a decade later, they are working odd jobs, hoping to “blow up”.

The lesson I took from that (back then) was “do not promote until you have the finished product. Do not talk about what you do until it's good enough, just put your head down and get better." I spent almost a decade making unfinished project after unfinished project, unwilling to release or promote them because they weren't "good enough yet". I way overcompensated.

In this case, the cure was worse than the disease (even though I greatly improved) because putting out bad music wouldn't mean that I'd be known as a person who puts out bad music - I’d be known as “a person who puts out music”, which is a valuable thing. I'd be much more prone to positive black swan events from having my name out there. Plus, it's not like I would stop improving - I could've easily had the best of both worlds.

I'm now aiming at the synthesis of those two views - being humble and diligent about improving while being okay with putting out imperfect things. 80% of 1000 > 100% of 0.

I IDC-ed the part of me that wants to go to bed and the part of me that wants to follow through on trying each day's exercise and posting a comment. I first named them "I should do what naturally feels good" and "I keep commitments". 

"Commitment" was the clear frontrunner (after all, I did do the exercise). There were the usual arguments about why it's good to keep promises to yourself, about how being that type of person pays dividends, etc. 

The other side surprised me. The first thing it said was "It's not about just doing what's most pleasurable, it's about being flexible". Woah. So I changed its name to "flexibility"and it began to feel like a disagreement between values instead of a fight between protagonist and antagonist (hedonism vs. virtue). 

Changing the first side's name opened the door to many more insights. I won't bore you with the details of all of them, but the main one was that "people can tell when I'm not flexible" and that they (and I) generally have a better time around me when I'm open and flexible. It also made me realize that I pretty much only commit to myself.

I tend to go into "info-scavenge" mode as a form of escapism. I think I've internalized an avoidance of overt escapism on a subconscious level - i.e, I get antsy and feel "wrong" if I try to play video games as a way of procrastinating. Instead, I find myself shallowly skimming for into by scrolling through YouTube recommendations but not watching videos, looking at link aggregators (HN, Reddit) but not the actual links, etc. It's like my brain found a loophole because that behavior is superficially similar to what "learning" looks like.

What would happen if every time you wanted to do that, you introspected instead?

I think it would be a big benefit. I'm not sure if "escapism-mode-me" would follow through. Recently I've been trying to go on walks without any goals other than thinking to myself. So far, after maybe 25 walks, I haven't regretted a single one and it has often been the highlight of my day.

Overestimation: Running my first session in a legit music studio (after interning there) 

I had only mixed/produced music "in the box" (on my laptop with software) before and figured I could just sit down at the Neve and do everything else the same. Nope, it was a nightmare. We went 3 hours over on the first day because I had to figure out so much on the fly. The amount of unknown unknowns that came up was staggering - this mic uses phantom power, how does this work in Pro Tools, which input is the synth patched into, what button for talkback, etc. 

Luckily I got up to speed and now run sessions regularly, but that was a huge dose of reality.

Underestimation: Submitting a dev PR at work

Worked at a startup doing generalist tech/product things. I taught myself React and Python before starting but didn't think I was good enough to get a programming job. After talking to the devs they let me try out a ticket. I worked on it and submitted it. It got accepted and merged in. Later I realized, "this is programming". 

I was starting to do more dev work but the company shut down recently. Oh well. It gave me the confidence to learn more though.

Praise: I appreciate your way of prodding the reader to question assumptions and unwritten rules. I feel like I'm getting a good sample of tools that have been genuinely useful to you, rather than something written purely for your ego.

Critique: I think the individual days could build on top of each other more, like prerequisites. I also think I'd benefit from doing the related days back to back, to build on familiarity with the concepts and techniques.

Are there particular people around whom you happen to always play Devil’s Advocate?

Yes, and I usually excuse it because I'm "trying to get to the truth" or something like that. But not everyone has signed up to play some epistemology game with me. Hm, I could probably be gentler, or at least somehow see if that's where the person wants to go with the conversation.

Something is so satisfying about reductionism. Breaking things down does wonders for unlocking the "do anything" ability in me. Now the problem becomes aiming that superpower and following through, but it's still a great tool to have.

I like the amended exercise below for emotionally aversive tasks, specifically iterating through and finding the most painful step and breaking that one down specifically. 

Share anecdotes or data on how long it takes [intentions, projects, plans, relationships, careers, startups] to fail. What do the curves look like?

I've noticed a common theme in my life with things that end of: I. Solid, II. Wobble, III. Topple

  • Relationship is totally stable (months), notice some tension but nothing too crazy (months), relationship ends in a random 30 minute conversation
  • Startup is growing (years), some hiccups w/ large contracts (6 months), ends without warning in a single meeting
  • Consistently do habit (weeks/months), do habit but start fudging it for a week (bare minimum/changing expectations/cheating), miss a single day and completely stop
  • Ran a mile in 5:05
  • Typed the alphabet in 1.8 seconds
  • Wrote this in 15 seconds
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