The Convenience Illusion
So let's, talk about one example of this sort of illusion where we have a perceived difficulty level and perceived war level and how we can adjust those. So, uh, I call this the convenient solution I've coined it myself, um, and it involves two parts. The first part involves habits. So remember, earlier we talked about how habits are they put, they happen on autopilot. So remember the example of how my dad got in the car and we drove all the way to the dance studio, and I have no idea what happened the whole time and, like it's like that time disappeared it's, like we got in the car and time disappeared or have you ever, like, gone on facebook and like, I'm just going to see what's going on real quick on facebook in the lanky twenty minutes go by and you're like, happens like, where did that time go when you are being when you've been triggered into an action, a habitual action, it takes almost no energy, and when it takes almost no energy, it feels like it takes no time. It's amazing ...
and it's definitely an illusion that I think we've all experienced you guys, is this jam with what you experience raise you when you're inhabit mode you just you just go, you know, even thinking, um there's another phenomenon that sort of the opposite of this that happens to and this is called the oddball effect so I'm just going to give you a brief demo of what the oddball effect like what what it is so I'm just go and watch this quick video that's my dog toaster is really cute anybody notice anything weird about that? So I take it you all notice the very attractive looking woman and a bikini if you had to say how long um her image was on the screen, what would you say two three seconds, fifty seconds everybody else a lot of it shorter than the images of toaster um that's interesting you must really not like women typically people don't like it with each one was on for one second all the pictures rolling for exactly the same amount of time but when there is an oddball when something that you're totally not expecting out of the blue that really captures your attention, it feels like it takes longer and the reason for that is because it takes more cognitive resource is right like all your attention is sucked in and when you're paying attention that's, that's, what's, effortful right? The actions you know when you're going through your daily actions that doesn't feel effortful it's the attention that you have to pay that is really would get you and that's how you feel time going by so when something when you have to do something new, for instance, let's say you have the habit every day going, driving home from work, stopping through the drive through and going common eating your food, the ieds that sounds easy, even though you have to drive all the way there, wait in the line, wait for your food and you know, it still is going to take in twenty minutes or so. Um, but compare when when that's normal for you, it seems easy and the thought of doing something like going home and cooking dinner it's like, oh, kash, I have tio, what would I make have to find a recipe like it just sounds like a ton of work and, well, you know, to some extent in that example and will be a little more work, especially the first time you do it. But the reality is, once you get in the habit of cooking dinner, the exact opposite happens, so I'm in a place now where if I'm really, really starving and, you know, I got had a long day and I really need to get some food in my like, dinner in my face, like immediately when I think about going out, I'm like, gosh, that sounds like hard work, I have to go put makeup on I you know, I start coming up with all these excuses why can't do it? I have to find out to make a reservation that's impossible, right? You know, I used to even live around the corner from burrito place like al far alito because they are not all for alito. Popil ok, I feel like, is the love going a populous and like, um, I used to always use it as my default when I was not when I didn't want to cook dinner, but then when I started realizing how long it takes even to get a burrito like even if I'd call it in itself to go and I have to wait in the line, and by the time I actually got there and got home, it was this really long ordeal, and so for me, I have been able to switch the habit, and so I have the exact opposite perception, and the reality is that for a moment and I'll teach you how to do this. But for most, like a simple dinner takes about the same amount of time to prepare is a really lazy, lazy dinner. The only difference is that your habits feeling differences, you're in the habit of one and not in the habit of the other one and advertising worked on you really well that it's easier to go out than it is to do it a home but that can easily be switched it just takes a little bit of acknowledging that habits will get easier and actually that is uh that is intentional so so basically what what I'm just so what the kaga what the convenience illusion is is that if you combine uh so they took it away if you combine the habits that shrink perceive time and the oddball that seems to take forever the juxtaposition is huge right? It makes it seem like so much easier to do what you normally do and so much harder to do what you want to do but haven't found the motivation to dio when the reality is once you get in the habit of either they're going to take close to the same amount of time and so what that does is effectively understanding that you can lower the perceived difficulty by just making the habit of it and and eventually you'll realize you increase the reward because you know eating stuff that makes you feel really bad about yourself and yeah so that's that's what this is basically habits and oddballs make it seem harder than it is but this is the point I was struggling remember likely I wrote it down is that one thing that's important to remember here remember we stopped dieting right so we saved all that will power by not dieting anymore one of the places to use it especially early on, when you're crafting your habits is remembering things like this, you know, taking using your attention and stepping back from your normal routine for enough time to say, like, you know what? That sounds really hard right now, but I'm going to try it anyway because I know it'll eventually get easy if I could build the habit. And so this is one of the u one of the uses actual good uses of the limited willpower you do have is overcoming these barriers where you can actually like and these illusions where you can actually start to build the habit and actually make real progress because it won't take willpower forever just the beginning. Ok, that makes sense. Good, good use of willpower. Bam. Okay, then you have any questions about the convenience allusion? Anybody wanna call b s on me? I've had people want to call b s on me for this. The reason is good with it. I mean, it's the same thing getting up in the morning and you're like a fifteen and twenty minutes go by really quickly, but when you're about to get off of work or whatever and looking at the clock, you're like, oh, man, his last ten minutes or dragging, paying attention to them exactly exactly one of the reasons you know people get a little frustrated with I have had some blowback on this example is people like well it does take longer to cook you know and it's it is through the cook so says no well I mean it's true like the first time is going tio like that when you do anything new for the first time like and especially if you haven't prepared it also tomorrow we're going to talk forever about how to shop had a meal plan howto make your cooking experience super efficient so you don't have that problem anymore you don't you don't come home from work like open the fridge and not have any idea what to dio we're going solve all that but you know that they're in there is on argument that it the first few times it's going to be harder but it goes away that's my only point one of make if they're quite simply distractions when we have a goal or a job to do and there are factors there knock us out of our routine you know it's easy to give in to it absolutely the same thing yeah yeah totally cool all right I have another one this is what I call the ideal tomorrow effect or illusion and I love this I think that there isn't a human alive who was immune to this one I know I'm not um always inevitably we believe that today is exceptionally busy difficult stressful tomorrow tomorrow who will be much much easier tomorrow will be ideal and all those things I couldn't get to today my future self has those things handled ring a bell um so it's it's an illusion it's an illusion that we have we have this idea that somehow tomorrow we're not gonna have the same problems that we have today and it does sort of true they'll be different problems but it's like our mental accountants never remembers to include the like miscellaneous section of you know the stuff that interferes with your life all the time it makes a tough like oh this week's you know I've got a big project you but next week I'm totally not gonna get a flat tire or my kids aren't going to totally get sick and I'm gonna have to deal with that or you know whatever there's always something but as a result of this delusion that we all live under we put more responsibility on our future selves that we do on a present selves which is totally mean stop that guys don't do that to your future self will hate you um and the real consequence of this is that we failed to predict um the difficulties we have and when you failed to predict where you're going to struggle that's when you fail right when when when you actually feel like when you don't anticipate how stressed out you're going to be after work and you had planned to make this huge meal, but that and they're healthy meal, but that also involved going to the store as well. You've already even set yourself up for failure because you didn't anticipate how exhausted you were going to be or that you know, your boss was going to come in and ask you something for last minute, so you're going to leave fifteen minutes late and then now the story's going to be really crowded and ok, I'm just gonna get a pizza does that sounds too hard. And amazingly, this happens every single time it is both consistence and predictable almost never where you get a perfect week, maybe once a year where nothing bad happens and nothing derails you. Um and so we consistently and predictably again put off our goals, you know, put off our best intentions for another day, and we attend to the most immediate problems and as totally natural on gonna give you some ways to get around this. So I just love this, calvin, because like helen, calvin and hobbes, I love this quote, the problem with the future is that it keeps turning into the present, and then we're gonna have to put stuff off even further, so I'm dealing with the ideal tomorrow, so one way to deal with this and let's let's lis let's, talk about this a little bit, so one way we can do it is by avoiding predictable failures by anticipating the barriers. So, um, for instance, like so one great example is shopping are cooking dinner, right? Like one thing you can do as we talked about earlier with the shopping habit. If you have no food in your house, your chances of eating healthy or like zero all right, I mean, you're just not going to make that a priority when when you're in it, when you're in that hot moment, like we talked about. So one way you can do that is understanding the barrier that you are going to be stressed and have something there already and make it be easy. You know, something very, very low stress that should be a priority when you're learning to cook dinner. Can anybody think of, like, what's? A. Anybody has something, they fail that repeatedly, like I'm told they going to do that next week, totally gonna go to the gym. Yeah, well I bet with their lands I'm a freelance writer and have dead lands and you know I have a couple of weeks for a story but I kind of writing them on the last day and I get so stressed that every every time I do this I'm like ok, the next story I'm goingto finish early but I'm going to do it I'm always waiting for the blast if that's why why is it that you don't do it um you know, I know but I just know that I can do it within a day um off the deadline and I can't I know that I can handle it time wise but it puts me and there's so much stress thank you pushing it away yeah so so what I so if I were dealing with that sort of problem what you know this happens tio I'm sure week after week after week ago so so you have to actively look to identify what's going on when you're not doing it like it is it that you're like? Well, I'm planning on working on it tomorrow and then tomorrow comes and you're like oh actually and I really need a manicure so and you call and try to get employment so I could get in say is that is that that sort of thing? Yeah ok so but you do have it you have it on your calendar too right you have writing on your calendar like I'm going to spend this two hours on tuesday I have two dead lamb on the calendar and ok I need to be done but this day and you know I always you know I do stuff like all of us to something else I mean people are do other work in other stories and so my schedule's kind of you know, not really organized I know in my deadline and I know I have to pay the finish but that they but I don't really schedule the process of getting there totally so I have the same issue right I work at home I'm a writer I have I mean most of my own deadlines but sometimes other deadlines and you know I realize that one of the problems I had was it because I didn't put on my calendar to write this day I when my friends would call and say hey you want to get lunch I would say yes because I was like I can always work on my deadline work in my paper tomorrow um but when I so I was happy I had a very tight deadline for my book and at a certain point I realized like I need tio block off periods of time and so I just started treating my work like any other appointment so I would just block off full days were like most of the day tuesday and thursday and like when some of my friend colin so you want to get lunch I'm like sure I'm open on wednesday or friday, you know? And I would just schedule that time in and that's one way you can avoid, you know, having the rest of your life leak into your work and actually get some work done and what happened a couple amazing things happen yeah, the stress goes away because you're like, I'm not working enough it also my writing up better because I was able tio spend a little more time to make it just that much better than just going ok it's mostly done e s o I mean that's an example of how you could tackle something like that anybody else have one? Yeah, I am really good at going to the farmer's market and buying bags of lettuce and thinking I'm gonna have a salad sometime later but then when it's in the fridge I think okay and I gotta wash the salad and dry it off and use it and I'm just like, um buy sell it somewhere else oh my gosh you actually go buy a salad that's great. Yeah so it's just so so what's the barrier ah the bear is I think taking any time too actually prepare the food to eat it and also I mean the other salads are more delicious, I think, than the ones I regularly may I guess you have two problems, one possibility so it sounds like when you by the letters you're excited about it sure it's good and it's a saturday so you've got all the time in the world one thing you could try is washing it as soon as you get home so I I had to do this actually had the same problem I would get you know I got a salad spinner you know they're cheap and very functional wash it off, you know get away, get it clean I leave it in the spinner says like not even that hard to just dump the water out and close it up stick in the fridge it actually keeps better that way I found that in the crisper and then when the next time you actually want to salad you, can you it's like halfway done for you and it's already dry and everything it's a lot it's a lot better so that is one way you can remove that barrier by you because what I'm what I'm it's once you're telling me is like I get home and I don't want to make this house because it sounds like a lot of work sure right? So when you have more energy is the time to make that decision on def you need taste yourselves you you just sounds like you need to buy more ingredients sure on and they don't have to be things to take more work you know, for instance like prosciutto is an amazing thing not to sell it and you just you noticed nothing so that's that's these are examples howto jack let anybody else have one they wanted me to help with one thing else shares that I, um trying to work out in the morning I don't want to do in the afternoon because it winds me up and can't go to sleep so I discovered getting up early in the morning and trying to immediately go work out wasn't it wasn't working out one day by accident it's because of my mom called were chatting too long I missed my appointment but I felt better about going cause they realized I was actually awake versus just being first thing in the morning I'd set out my workout clothes and all that stuff is like that wasn't doing it for me and I realized I truly was not functioning I needed to talk to somebody or something wake up a little bit have you done that now? Yeah, I've noticed that I'm sort of like crap and excuse me before I realized you know it just not going to happen if I have a clock in the morning so I'm just going to stop beating myself over that and it's six thirty year later when I'm actually awake great insight I had so I mentioned this earlier but I had a similar issue when I was trying to develop a meditation habit like I knew that you know, I have a very stressful job in a very stressful everything and I knew and with all the work I do in mindfulness and all this stuff I knew it was important that I wanted to develop the habit and I always told myself was like download you know here is that you used to go starting find like crutches for yourself so I feel like I'm gonna go download like twelve guided meditations and so download them all and put them all in my phone but I'm totally gonna use these on then I'd start my day you know and how breakfast and check my email and god the life than all the dog days ago for walking and you know, I always thought maybe I do it after it might work out but inevitably after my workout I was starving I needed to figure out what to make for dinner I needed to shower and I would be like after dinner and like I really just want a glass of wine and then I think that there's no way I'm meditating after that so this happened for like a year and a half something like that and until I I started studying this stuff and I realized what kind of what you realize similar is it I can't meditate if I'm already distracted like that's kind of the problem with like that's the goal of meditation is like too be less distracted and I was putting myself in a position where I was physically incapable of meditating and so what I did is I mean, I made this insight and was like, well, the on ly time in my day when I'm not completely stressed out is this first thing I wake up in the morning even before he touched my phone, you really think I could go on? My phone is turned off my alarm and so I developed a system and I'll talk a little bit more about it in a second, but that was the critical insight for me was that I had to find time in the morning when I could do it and suddenly the barrier of like I'll do it later when away so you know, this is this this is a you know think about the things like what's really prevent prohibiting you from doing it now and what could you have done earlier to make it easier because your future self really, really wants you to take care of it on? I think deep down we all want better for our future selves and our president self and so it's important to keep that in mind when you're in your president self is to say do I like my future self? Because if I do, I should really do the best for them. They're very nice person, they don't deserve all that extra work I just put on them. Um ok, so another thing you khun dio then I think this is actually really, really practical and really powerful it's just assume that if things are hard today, they're going to be very similarly hard tomorrow and might not manifest in exactly the same way like it could be a different project at work could be a different issue with your kids. It could be a different issue with whatever stress family we all have those things, um, but just assume that it will take about the same amount of time and the same amount of energy out of your life. So the amount of stress that it's going to cause and the amount of energy sucking it's going to do and prevent you from doing that's assume it's going to be the same and use that as a given and figure out a way around it rather than pretending tomorrow is going to be better and then magically, everything will be perfect. Um, yeah again, put yourself in the shoes of your future self and, you know it's so funny, the experiments that have been done on this work it's like like so high like I'll sit here like what they do they was like a group like this and sit there and tell everybody you put off things like how much are you going to work out this week yeah there we go five times and the end of the coming year you'd say is did you work out like oh once you know what about next week pretend they're like understand that like it's going to be hard next week to write not go yeah totally no but yeah no tomorrow when I work out six times your next week like they people get even more optimistic the more they fail because they like feel the urge like make up for a double and it just gets worse and worse and even know wing that is probably going to be just as hard and I speak they still do this so it's you know try to be less delusional about your future self and put yourself in the their shoes like imagine you're like you know how I could totally squeeze that in a workout you know this week after creative live for instance like I know damn well I'm not going to the gym today tomorrow or the next day so what did ideo I did kettle bell swings for two minutes this morning one hundred countable swings and I'm ok with that you know but it's like I I took the initiative tio like not pretend like I was going to sit up here and talk all day because talking is hard and like I'm going to go home change into my stupid gym clothes and go to the gym at the peak hours when it's a nightmare right like five o'clock at the gym is a nightmare there's no way and just being realistic about those sort of things with yourself is really, really important and it like because if I didn't do that I wouldn't have gotten up like twenty minutes earlier today and on my sings so that's important um and another thing that they showed that I can help with this is to aim for consistency, consistent actions so for instance, if you're like, oh, this week I'm going to eat take out at work because it's easier because I have a big project, but next week I'm totally gonna bring salad to work every day um just assume you're going to eat, take out for work out every day like try and and actually try I think I think they did this with smokers there like just sit smoked the same amount of cigarettes every day like don't try to quit just try to smoke the same amount and that that encourage people to smoke less because like, well, if I smoke six today are like half attack today, let's say that means I have to smoke half impact tomorrow and I don't want to be the person who smoked half a pack a day, so I'm going to tell me back and just assume that your habits are going to be consistent because they are cool. Any questions about the ideal tomorrow effect? It was just kind of in general, why do we get into this place where we think we're superhuman and that we're somehow going to be a thousand percent better? You know, a year from now than we are today. The great question, I think we all identify with our highest goldson. I know I do on and I think that maybe it's true, maybe in the ideal world, we really would work. I totally right. Like, I feel like I have this like fantasy of this time when I go to like a warm island and I, like, wake up in the morning, I take a job, maybe swim in the ocean, go to the farmer's market, come home, craft a salad, you know, maybe have a good conversation with my husband is not at all about technology or the internet take my dog for what? Call my dad and just had a lovely conversation, you know, read a book, write, write a novel I yeah, totally if nothing ever interfered with my universe I maybe I would do that but it requires no other humans to be on the planet except for the three I love and it requires no fires to put out ever and it requires no deadlines you no no any responsibilities basically that's just the world we could all live in it just doesn't exist really it's not all living in a fantasy world pretty much when we want to be I want to be living in a fantasy world that unfortunately just doesn't doesn't work that way so I think this is really about being honest with yourself and being realistic about the world and trying toe and not forgetting that dream you know, not forgetting that but tryingto be realistic about how to get there because it's not just going toe sees not gonna part we're not going to walk in our perfect life just supplies to everything we do in our lives so not just diet or anything I mean I think sales people do that also unsuccessful sales people do this they have a bad week yeah, but they don't do anything that actually differently just do exactly the same thing where is the successful people think well, what did I do different what do I need to do differently and it's only those people who think that way that can make change in their life and what stopped me from doing it before like analyzing your past failures is huge because you can see the pattern you're like oh I'm just always so tired and by the way if you can't see the pattern since it will happen again just pay more attention next time you know ask yourself like this is my moment of failure you know when it's coming like what am I feeling what's going on now like what? What derailed me five minutes ago what happens and it's okay you know this is an easy like reshaping habits is not at all easy but if you approach it in this like honest, rational way and think about what you can do to get around those barriers well you can realistically dio that's that's how you actually overcome them and build the habits it does help with new good habits to do them a specific times therefore you're getting into a you agree with that? Yeah, absolutely because that plays into the trigger so if you like your habits are the more regular the more triggers like that the more the more powerful that have it's going to be the risk there is that like if you travel or something then you get completely thrown I don't do anything good when I travel it's not good so yeah so that's great, whatever you can use, you have all these tools I'm giving you a zillion tools and they you know it's up to you to sort of decide when and where to use them in your own personal life. And is it's really more of an art than a science? You know, there's going to be a lot of trial and error.