The Productivity Trap: Why Selling Your Soul To Productivity Is Unproductive

I’ve been quite the productivity nazi as long as I can remember. Even when I was younger and had a very distorted version of reality, I was wired in a way that focused relentlessly on productiveness. In elementary school I’d do strange things like run home after school rather than walk so I’d have more time to play Pokemon, but my obsessive inclination to do whatever I deemed “most productive,” was there nonetheless.

After the removal of video games from my life I’ve spent the past few years in personal development mode. This has been a good change for the most past, but it’s also had its own fair share of negative effects.

I’d spent the first couple years of high school so focused on personal development that I’d actually stunted my personal growth.

I fell into this strange reality where I believed socializing was a waste of time so I proactively avoided attending any social events. I had this fucked-up belief that there was something wrong with taking a relaxing walk through the park, and taking time to smell the flowers. In short, I sold my soul to productivity, and doing so wasn’t even productive.

I’d begun to plan each moment of everyday so meticulously that if I had any setbacks, which are only inevitable, I’d have to frantically rush around the remainder of the day half-assing things just so I could complete my todo list. It was stressful, and it was killing me.

I alienated the few friends I did have, and I ended up having nervous breakdowns almost every weekend. At the time I didn’t understand why I was feeling so run down, but I knew I needed a change.

There never was a big epiphany for me, rather I learned from others’ mistakes and from my own setbacks. The biggest change for me, however, came last summer during my 90 day social challenge. I realized that as a nearly universal truth the more I socialized the more work I was able to get done each week.

If I’d only gone out 1 nights in a given week I’d have trouble writing more than 1-2 blog posts, but in the weeks I went out 5+ nights I was able to write a blog post almost everyday, and sometimes more than one per day!

I also found that the more I socialized the less prone I was to mindlessly wasting time. If I’d been a hermit it wasn’t uncommon for me to lose several hours a day to random web surfing, and although never perfect, I was much more disciplined in the usage of my time while maintaining an active social life.

Why Being A Productivity Nazi Isn’t Productive

I think the biggest reason being overly obsessed with productivity is ultimately unproductive is because living that way inevitably causes the accumulation of stress. When you’re so focused on being productive, to the point of ignoring your own happiness levels you begin to resent your work.

Human beings have a natural hierarchy of needs, and if you’re not fulfilling your basic animal level needs you simply won’t be able to function on a higher level. When your brain recognizes that the reason you can’t go out and have fun with your buddies or meet girls is due to your work it’s going to sabotage you.

Remember, your brain doesn’t care if you’re a 3/10 or a 9/10 on the happiness scale. All it cares about is that you’re able to prolong your existence, and ultimately pass down your DNA.

The Solution

The road to the greatest level of productivity lies in balance. You need to meet your low level animal needs, but not focus on them in excess. In other words, eating high quality food, but not making gourmet meals the central focus of your life. Maintaining an active social life, but not needing to be with your friends every second of every day. Taking a period of relaxation after a stressful work project, but not spending your whole life in autopilot.

Life’s all about balance. Those who produce the best results are the most skilled in maintaining that proper equilibrium. Periods of expansion need to be followed by periods of contraction.

I initially hesitated on writing this post as I still need a lot more work in maintaining a balanced life, but it’s a journey, and one I think you’ll greatly beneift from committing yourself to.

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The Secret To Limitless Motivation: Expecting A Payoff

Free will doesn’t exist. People aren’t as smart as they think they are. Every decision one makes is the result of one thing. The Pain Vs Pleasure Principle.

I’m sure someone with a background in psychology could give a much more accurate description of the Pain vs Pleasure Principle’s history, but from my understanding it was a concept Sigmund Freud first developed in 1895, and one Tony Robbins later popularized over the last couple decades.

The main premise of the principle is that human beings are motivated by two things. The production of pleasure, and the avoidance of pain. Pain is a more powerful motivator as humans naturally fear loss more than gain, but both can be used to manifest massive amounts of motivation within yourself.

(Note from Cam: This week’s video is light years better than the ones from previous weeks so definitely give it a watch. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever liked one of my videos more than the corresponding blog post. Regardless, I hope you’re able to benefit from whatever you end up consuming.)

An Example Pain Vs Pleasure Principle Scenario

A man is at a party and sees the most attractive girl there feeling lonely and standing awkwardly looking for someone to dance with. He wants to go dance with her, but for some reason just can’t force himself to ask her to dance.

Later that night the girl is dancing in the midst of a huge group of her beautiful friends, and every guy at the party wants to dance with one of the girls. The girls are so attractive, however, that the men are all intimidated and stand nervously on the edge of the dance floor.

One man, however, charismatically struts to the middle of their circle, completely loses himself in the music, and dances his heart out. The girls all love him, and he happily ends up spending the rest of the night with the most beautiful girl.

What’s the difference between the first guy, and the second? Their pain vs pleasure responses are polar opposites. The first guy’s fear of rejection, and embarrassment outweighed his anticipation of the pleasure of dancing and spending time with a beautiful girl. Despite the fact he had better logistics, the first man’s brain literally prevented him from asking the girl to dance.

The second man had weaker logistics, but he likely focused on what he wanted rather than what he didn’t want, and as a result his pain vs pleasure response was tipped in a way that made it impossible for him not to go dance with the girls.

Practical Application

The secret to effortlessly manifesting motivation, and making taking action nearly automatic is to hack your pain vs pleasure response in a way that makes stagnation more painful than taking action. There’s several ways you can do this.

Look At The Big Picture

For one, you can change where you direct your focus. As I’m writing this blog post I’m experiencing a moderate amount of resistance towards the writing process. I haven’t written a post in nearly a week so I know it’s in my best interest to complete this post, but there’s a part of me that wants nothing more than to quit right now.

A part of me is constantly tempting me to get up from this chair, and stop writing, but I literally can’t. Not because I’m particularly enjoying writing today, but because I see the big picture.

One less blog post over the course of a year, or even a month is pretty much insignificant. Theoretically it makes very little difference whether or not I complete this post. I could stop writing now, never publish this, and nobody would ever think anything less of me. Except for me.

I know that self-esteem is the direct result of being able to keep promises you make to yourself. If I don’t finish this post, I’ll lose a little bit of the trust I have in myself. More than that, however, I’ll set a precedent.

If I don’t finish today’s post what’s going to stop me from quitting on next week’s? If I skip today’s workout what’s going to prevent me from skipping the next one? It becomes very difficult to stray from your morals when you understand cheating once gives you permission to cheat again.

Life isn’t stagnant. Each day you’re either getting a little bit better, or a little bit worse. Life consists mainly of upward and downward spirals, and you’ve got to do whatever it takes to ensure you stay in the upward ones. Few people that get caught in downward spirals ever bounce back.

Focus On The Journey Rather Than The Destination

If you think this directly contradicts the previous point well, you’re right. Like most complicated things motivation isn’t clear cut. There’s lots of paradoxes and gray areas.

Learning from your mistakes, and looking at the big picture are important, but I think the majority of your time should be spent in the present moment.

When I’m writing I spend very little time actually thinking. I think most writers will tell you that writing is a flow-state activity, and the majority of the process is spent just being. When you’re writing you may need to occasionally think about how you’re going to articulate something, but far and away the best results come when you simply surrender yourself to the process.

For the first several hundred words of this post, I experienced heavy resistance, and wanted to quit. Now though spending over an hour writing I’ve become a part of the process and the words just flow. Energy is surely being expended, but it’s also refreshing, and feels essentially effortless.

You’ll notice the same thing in social situations. It can be good to plan what social skills you want to work on before you get to the social event, and to have a general idea of what the plan for the night is, but once you get there it’s time to stop micromanaging, let go, and just be.

Being grounded in the present moment is wonderful for taking massive action, because it helps reduce your low level cortisol responses, and allows you to perform to the best of your ability.

Being present is also highly motivating because it’s addictive. When you first start meditating, writing, or doing almost any flow-state activity you’re likely going to experience a lot of resistance. This is typically the result of being addicted to stimulus.

After a while, however, you’ll become grounded in the present moment, and being in this state is tremendously addictive because it allows you to rid yourself of all the excess stress you’ve accumulated and experience a peaceful bliss.

Once you’ve experienced this state you’ll find yourself wanting to experience more of it, and you’ll naturally gravitate to things that allow you to reach this state of mind rather than low level things like television that produce only a duuhhhrr state.

Buying In

The two previous points can certainly be useful in the manifestation of motivation within yourself, but ultimately the biggest thing you can do to tip the pain vs pleasure response into your favor is to buy in to whatever you’re doing.

Do you honestly think I’d still be here writing if I didn’t think it was going to pay off? Hell, I’d have quit blogging in my first week if I thought my time was being wasted.

Remember when we were talking about the difference between the man who couldn’t talk to the girl, and the man who got her? What was the difference? The second man bought in, and believed he could get her.

Think about the losers who sit in their parents’ basements and troll on Youtube and Reddit. It’s easy to talk about how pathetic they are. We can ask them why they troll, but the real question should be why wouldn’t they troll?

Like drug addicts, the reality of their lives is that they don’t see themselves having a future. If you were stuck in an inescapable cloud of misery why wouldn’t you be a lazy bitch?

Buying in to yourself is so damn important because if you don’t expect your efforts to pay out your pain vs pleasure response is fucked, and as a result you’ll end up just like the Reddit trolls, never amounting to anything more than a slave to instant gratification.

Fortunately, you can proactively take action to ensure you buy in to yourself. By tackling small tasks such as doing a workout in the gym, or rewarding yourself for writing a blog post, you can teach your brain that if it takes an action it’ll produce a result.

After your brain makes the association between small tasks and small rewards you can eventually train it to be able to buy in for much bigger projects, and that’s when you begin to accomplish really great things.

Once you buy into yourself, and fully believe the actions you take are going to produce results; you’ll start producing the results you’ve always wanted.

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Social Momentum, Assuming Value, And Eliminating Outcome Dependence

Homecoming is an interesting high school tradition. It’s a time when hundreds of overly stressed high school students come together and are able to be completely free, dance, and let loose once a year.

Or, for many introverts it’s a depressing time where they’re forced to examine their social skills and the absolute awkwardness of their behavior. I’ve experienced Homecoming from both perspectives, and though a lot of tears were shed during my awkward times they were also instrumental in producing the emotional leverage that catapulted me into being able to experience social abundance and have the best night of my life this past Homecoming.

Freshmen year I gathered the courage to ask a beautiful girl to Homecoming and she said yes. I was a bit of a goof, and try-hard back then, but we still had a lot of fun together and despite my shyness on the dance floor I still danced with a couple girls, but I’d get jealous whenever another guy would dance with my date.

Sophomore year’s Homecoming was one of the roughest nights of my life. I didn’t decide until the last minute that I was going to go, and when I got there I completely trapped myself in the head. I didn’t dance with a single girl, and I spent the majority of the night standing alone on the outskirts of the dance floor in a self-loathing state while enviously watching the rest of my peers having the night of their lives. I even saw my dream girl standing alone at one point, and had the perfect opportunity to dance with her, but I was being such a bitch I wasn’t able to do even that. The night ended with me going to my venting buddy’s after party, having a nervous break down, and crying about how I’ve never loved anyone or been loved back. Ouch.

This year was different though. My personal growth has been progressing at a frantic pace since starting in February of this year, and for the first time in my life I’ve little social inhibitions after making social skills and relationships a big focus in the second half of 2013.

Like Freshmen year I again went with a beautiful girl, but unlike Freshmen year I made sure we were going to have the night of our lives. I danced with dozens of girls, had some amazing moments with my date, and was completely free and present to the moment. It was a far outcry from the depressing experience I had with Homecoming last year, and it was without a doubt the best night of my life.

More than that, however, these last few years of Homecoming have also taught me a lot about social dynamics as well. They’ve given me a number of key paradigm shifts which I’m certain will greatly improve your relationships if you apply them in your own life.

#1 Establish Positive Social Momentum Spirals Early In The Night.

I’ve previously written a post about the importance of social momentum, but it’s an idea well worth repeating. What’s the biggest difference between someone who’s stuck in their head in the corner of the dance floor versus someone who’s dancing with dozens of chicks and having the night of their lives? Social momentum.

If you go to Homecoming, or a club, or really any social event for that matter momentum is huge. Ideally you’d build macro-momentum by being social in the days leading up to a social event, but likely even more important is building micro-momentum the second you enter the venue.

Last year at Homecoming I felt awkward when I got on the dance floor so instead of dancing, I got a drink then checked my phone then went to the bathroom, and because I wasn’t being social I was being drawn more and more into my head.

When we enter a new environment it’s natural to have some level of social inhibition because in the cavemen days entering a new environment or talking to a new tribe was potentially dangerous, thus through evolution we’ve developed a type of unconscious paradigm that the best thing to do in a new environment is to be quiet, and avoid drawing attention to ourselves.

It makes sense that we’ve developed this type of mindset considering our evolutionary upbringing, but in modern civilization it’s a paradigm that’s for the most part obsolete.

Fortunately, it’s also something that’s simple, though admittedly not easy to overcome. The solution? When you enter a new environment begin socializing immediately, and take actions that catapult you out of spectator mode and provide your brain with proof you’re not in a threatening environment.

For example, instead of nervously watching others dance from the outskirts of the dance floor, force yourself to dance with someone. Then force yourself to dance with someone else. Hell, you can even dance with yourself to get started in building momentum.

Make it a point to spend less than 30 seconds in between interactions/dance partners, and you’ll quickly develop social momentum, become more present to the moment, and really enjoy yourself in the process. Do this as quickly as possible too.

Think of social momentum as a battery needing to be charged. If you start the night at 50% you steadily lose your charge every moment you’re not interacting with someone. Every time you dance with someone you’re battery gains a couple percentage points.

The more charged your battery is the easier you’re able to start new conversations, or find new dance partners. Conversely the less of a charge you have the more difficult it is to be social. It’s possible to turn your night around after spending the first half of it being unsocial, but doing so is difficult and you’ll find that the beginning of your nights will often dictate how the rest of your night plays out.

This is obviously an oversimplification, but it’s an interesting analogy you can use to think about social momentum. At any given moment you’re either building momentum, or losing it. There’s no in-between. Socially successful people consistently establish positive momentum spirals early in the night. Those who struggle socially don’t.

#2 Assume Value.

When you’re talking to someone, or you want to dance with someone, or whatever it is you want to do; assume value. What does this mean? It means you’re coming from the giver’s mindset rather than trying to leech off other people.

Todd of RSD refers to this as being the Kool-Aid man of your social event. Wherever you decide to go that’s where the party’s going to be. You amplify your own state and emotions through being clear in your intent and doing the things you want to do, and through the law of state transference others get to experience the same positive emotions you do. You liven up the atmosphere, and others enjoy your company because when you’re around it’s easier for them to enjoy themselves.

Now how do you cultivate this assumption of value? Partially it’s from things like developing your core confidence through living in alignment with your values, developing your own social skills, and establishing positive social momentum, but a key paradigm shift that’ll instantly improve your ability to assume value is the realization that you have an inherent value simply by being a human being.

Human beings enjoy the company of other humans, and thus simply through your own existence you have an inherent value to others. This is one of the most significant epiphanies you’ll ever have, and once you’re able to internalize it you’ll find your relationships with others dramatically improve.

In practical terms this means developing the ability to simply be yourself, and not having a need to qualify yourself, or prove your worth to others.

When you’re on the dance floor this means making eye contact with a girl, pulling her in, and dancing your ass off with her. There’s no need to seek permission in what you’re doing because you know she’s going to have a good time.

This obviously doesn’t mean forcing her to do things she doesn’t want to do, but unless she gives you with a firm NO you make the fundamental assumption that she’s going to have a good time and an amazing experience with you.

#3 Eliminate Your Outcome Dependence By Cultivating Abundance.

When you’re in a social interaction there’s always going to be one person who’s more heavily reacting to the other person, and whoever’s less reactive is ultimately going to control where the interaction goes.

This is neither good nor bad. It just is. Fortunately, there’s a way to dramatically reduce your dependence on the outcome of a given social interaction, and that’s by cultivating a sense of abundance.

People do this in different ways, but the important thing is you find a strategy or combination of strategies that work for you.

One way people develop abundance is through happiness and satisfaction of their lifestyle. They may develop a happy neurology by practicing mediation, eating healthy food, exercising, working in a fulfilling career, and by finding hobbies they enjoy.

The other main methods of developing social abundance are through establishing an abundant social life, and the internalization of beliefs relating to social abundance.

I think lifestyle development is pretty self-explanatory. It’s something I’ve dedicated the last few years of my life to, and already written dozens of blog posts about, so we’ll instead focus on beliefs and actions you can take to develop social abundance.

Freshmen year at Homecoming I was needy with my girl because she’s all I had. I didn’t dance with other chicks, because I just wanted her. Unfortunately, like most decisions there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about things and I did things the wrong way.

When you’ve got a girl who you like the last thing you want to do is get clingy. If a reasonably desirable girl identifies your needy behaviors you’re fucked. It’s okay to selectively choose a girl, but a major part of human psychology is to attract a partner who will provide you with validation, so if a girl sees that she’s the only girl you’re capable of attracting your fucked.

Conversely, you also can’t pretend not to be needy. She’ll see your lack of congruence, and misalignment between your thoughts, words, and actions. The solution? Develop an abundant reality where neediness is a nonissue.

A big joke in the pick-up community is that the moment you get a crush on a girl you need to go get 10 other girls. It sounds shallow, and stupid, but it’s not.

The majority of “crushes” are merely infatuation, and you glorifying someone simply because you’re coming from a place of scarcity. When you’re meeting your relationship needs you’ll find you have a much greater capacity to see people for what they really are.

If after getting 10 other girls there’s still something special about her you’ve probably found a keeper, conversely if the attraction fades you’ll know it was merely an infatuation derived from desperation, and you coming from a place of scarcity.

Additionally, if you do decide to pursue a girl after getting 10 others you’ll no longer be coming from a place of scarcity, and because you won’t be as outcome dependent and reaction seeking with her you’ll have a much better chance of actually attracting her.

If you’re more focused on developing a social circle the best thing you can do aside from cold approach is rely on whatever social connections you currently have to breed more.

In the beginning you might have to hang out with needy or socially weird people who you may feel are below you, but eventually by continuing to go out you’ll meet their friends, some of which who will be somewhat less needy, and then you can begin hanging out with people who are slightly more compatible with you.

As you continue through the process you’ll find yourself being less and less outcome dependent in social situations and soon you’ll find you’ve developed a social circle of people you really enjoy being around, and from that point you’re gold.

Time waits for no one. Everyday you’re getting one day closer to death, and nobody knows when their time is. Abundance fuels more abundance so make the decision to establish an upward spiral in whatever it is you want out of life TODAY. Don’t wait until tomorrow because you might not get it.

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A Successful Castle Is Built Brick By Brick

Six pack abs in six minutes, the 100% fool-proof method to attracting the woman of your dreams, the magic manifesto to building a six-figure passive income stream in just 5 hours a week. They’re all enticing claims to say the least, but I think on an intellectual level we all understand these types of ventures rarely live up to their hype. Why do people still fall for them though? It’s in our biology.

A nearly, if not completely universal trait among living things is the conservation of energy. Humans are no exceptions. We’ve evolved to produce the results necessary for our survival, but tend to conserve all energy beyond that. In the past this was a good thing as food wasn’t abundant, and minimizing our energy output allowed us to survive on less.

Though beneficial in the cavemen era, this characteristic has disasterous consequences in the modern world. In today’s world there’s very little we have to do to survive, and as a result the majority of people have turned into stupid, lazy, fat bitches.

It’s a pretty fucked up element of human nature, but we don’t do more than we have to do, so if you don’t craft an environment for yourself that puts evolutionary pressure on yourself to take action you’re probably going to turn into a stupid, lazy, fat bitch as well.

Ironically enough, however, one of the biggest reasons people put evolutionary pressure on themselves to work hard is so that they can retire, get fat, and spend the rest of their lives on auto pilot.

See, the reason people are obsessed with the overnight success is because they want to get the hard part over with as soon as possible so they can simply coast the rest of their lives.

On one hand this is a bit fucked up as the satisfaction, and peak experiences one attains from working hard should far outweigh the effort one has to exert. You’re entitled to your own opinion, and feel free to disagree, but I truly believe nothing compares to the the tremendous fulfillment one experiences when they have the opportunity to marvel at an amazing piece of work they’ve produced.

On the other hand this get rich quick mentality is also counter productive. It ignores the fact that the reason most successful people have attained their levels of success stems from the character their hard work has produced.

Everytime one has the discipline to write a blog post when they could be surfing the internet, everytime one has the discipline to go to the gym when they want to watch TV, everytime one has the discipline to approach the girl that scares them more than anything. Everytime one has the strength to stretch themselves, and go further than they’ve ever gone before, they change for the better, and this is what the process of success is all about.

Continually reinventing yourself, and seeing just how far you can go and what you’re capable of becoming. There’s not a finish line, but never did a more fulfilling race exist. This is what success is about.

Stop looking for quick fixes and instead focus on the long-term sustainable routes proven to work. Find 2-3 remedial tasks you can do everyday that’ll advance you toward your goals everyday, and do whatever it takes to make sure they always get done.

Stop looking for the magical miracle, or secret method that’s going to change your life. A winning lottery ticket to success doesn’t exist.

It’s all about the small actions you take every single day. Focus on the little things, and brick by brick you’ll build a successful castle well worth marveling at.

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5 Ways To Improve Your Public Speaking Skills Without Practicing

A little disclaimer before you check out today’s blog post/video. Improving your public speaking without having to practice is definitely too good to be true to some extent. Although you can reach a passable level of public speaking where you’re not embarrassed to put out content, or give speeches (the level I’m at now), you’ll never become an elite speaker without thousands of hours of deliberate practice. With that being said, I think the majority of people will find the tips below extremely useful, and you’ll be able to significantly improve your speaking skills if you apply them.

1. Know your material. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to memorize your speech or even have an outline, though those can definitely be useful. The most important thing is you having a deep understanding of the most difficult concepts and nuisances of your topic. You should know you material backwards, forwards, and even inside-out. If you can’t explain your thoughts to a five year old you’re probably not ready to give a speech on that topic.

2. Be Passionate About What You’re Saying. Don’t seek validation from the crowd. You should believe what you’re saying is so valuable that you’re able to give off a passionate vibe and naturally captivate the audience’s attention through the law of state transference. When you’re passionate enough about a topic your audience will naturally be drawn into your frame.

3. Be congruent to your mood. If you’re under slept and you find the whole world hilarious then give a comedy speech and rattle off a bunch of jokes. If you’re in the forest after having spent the last hour meditating then give a calm, relaxed speech. When you give your speeches from a place of congruence the audience can naturally tell you’re being completely genuine and they’ll connect with you on a much deeper level. Don’t try to impress your audience by giving a certain type of speech just because you’ll think they’ll like it. People can tell when you’re being fake, and ironically people are most impressed by those that aren’t trying to impress them.

4. Socialize Regularly. This applies mostly to introverts as extroverts more inclined to socialize likely already do this. Socializing will benefit you as a speaker because it’ll reduce your cortisol levels and allow you to give off a more relaxed vibe. Additionally, it’ll allow you to be more present to the moment and socially calibrated with what you’re saying. This’ll allow audiences to emotionally connect with you rather than connecting solely on a logical level. Different people have different needs for socializing, but I’ve personally found 3-4 social events per week for a total of 10-20 weekly hours of socializing to be the sweet spot. Aside from the above benefits I’ve also found most of my epiphanies and ideas for blog content are the result of socializing so I highly recommend making socializing a priority.

5. Have a purpose for speaking. Don’t talk simply to be heard. If you yourself don’t believe your content is meaningful and a productive use of your audience’s time how could you ever expect them to give you their full attention? More importantly, why would you want them to? I think we have a natural desire to want to contribute to the success of others, but if we ourselves believe our content is sub-par and a less than optimal way for out audience to spend their time we’ll half-ass our talks because we don’t believe we’re worthy of our audience’s attention. Aim to provide more value with your speeches, and you’ll naturally develop more charisma, and an improved ability to hold your audience’s attention.

I Hope you found these tips helpful. Be sure to leave a comment if you’ve got any other unique ways to improve your speaking skills. Well, I’ll see ya guys later. Gotta go practice my public speaking. 😉

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