It's Not The Tool. It's You.
September 16, 2020
It was during an “earnest discussion of ideas” with my wife today that a certain aspect of human nature came sharply into focus. If anyone ever tells you they would love to do [insert activity] if they only had [tool only tangentially related to that activity that happens to cost money], you can take solace in the fact that nothing resembling that activity will be getting done with or without that tool. It’s not her fault. I’m absolutely guilty of the same behavior, as we all are to varying degrees. This is a stall tactic that we employ and every time it crosses my path I’m reminded of my favorite essay on the matter: Efficiency Is An Excuse To Not Do The Actual Work by Trevor McKendrick.
My favorite passage:
”I want to lose weight, what are the best exercises to do?”
Get down RIGHT THIS SECOND and start doing push ups. Go for a run in whatever clothes you already own.
It puts a spotlight on the utter absurdity of human procrastination and excuse-making. I had a college professor that once said, “There are a million reasons not to do something. At some point you just gotta cut the bullshit and get to work.”
Last year I wanted to start doing pullups. We have one of those door-frame pullup bars and it was collecting hella dust, so I placed it in the doorway and tried it out. Holy crap I could only do two, and they were the cheater, kick-your-knees-up kind. But I kept at it, and every day when I walked by, I’d grab on and do as many as I could. I didn’t fill up a water bottle. I didn’t change into a tank top. I didn’t buy a gym membership, or get new running shoes. I didn’t make a workout plan and try to do 100 a day. I did one set of as many I could do that day and that was it. I have hands I can grab with, so I used those.
What did I learn? The lack of friction in my little experiment was intoxicating. I did at least one set of pullups every day for over 9 months. I looked forward to it. And if I was brushing my teeth before bed and realized I forgot to do them that day, I spit out my Crest, walked down the hall, and did a max set in my skivvis.
We’re experts at getting in our own way. Not doing something has nothing to do with not having the tools. It’s probably that you don’t really want to do it in the first place.
In totally unrelated news, I’m on the hook to clean the mildew out of our master bathroom this weekend.