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The Willpower Paradox (scientificamerican.com)
91 points by mikecane on July 10, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments

I've felt this when starting on challenging programming tasks. "I WILL DO THIS" usually ends up with procrastination, or no real solutions coming to mind. Gently nudging my mind into wondering about the problem, poking it, thinking of ways to do it, thinking of ways to get out of doing it, then finally a tipping point is reached and I hold on for the motivational ride. It helps when you work for a company tolerant of this creative cycle, where motivation for a particular problem or project may come from nowhere.

Original research paper: "Motivating Goal-Directed Behavior through Introspective Self-Talk: The Role of the Interrogative Form of Simple Future Tense"


Willfulness is the determination to implement my will, while willingness is the faith to base my actions on possibility.

As I've taken definite steps towards entrepreneurship, I've been having an emotional experience that feels like falling. Falling requires faith, but it is much better than standing. When I'm on the ground I know what I've got, and known outcomes are not compelling, but when I'm falling I don't know what might be, and the sense of discovery keeps pulling me forward.

This reminds me a lot about a blog post I wrote some weeks ago: http://blog.opportunitycloud.com/2010/05/07/the-cloud-or-the... The cloud or the ladder, it's two different ways to view your career or even your life. I think most people on HN are clouders.

That is an interesting post. Your idea of an opportunity cloud is something I've spent a lot of time thinking about. I even made a decision recently to stay at my current job instead of taking a somewhat better job, because I believe the opportunity potential is higher if I keep with what I am doing for a while longer.

How do I apply this in my life? I want to get into shape... doesn't that already put me into the "I will" mode? How do I switch into the "Will I" mode?

Pick an easily measurable quantity related to your goal (like weight or waist circumference), measure it regularly and try to figure out how your behaviour influences it. Will regular exercise reduce weigth? How do the changes in weekly averages compare to the day-to-day (or even within the day) changes due to the normal food processing of the body? How long will it take me to undo the effect of thanksgiving with the family?

You have to want something that being in shape is a prereq for.

That is a cool article.

Simplistic. Often in the real world both I will and will I are found together at different parts of the activity.

See Dijkstra's second rule:


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