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A Strange, New Realization

Reading Influencer: The Power To Change Anything has changed how I see things in some places.[1] Or, rather, has made me realize how I think about decisions on life. And there’s one that’s been really strange to have crystalize into a coherent thought. A bit ago, I mentioned some wisdom from Josh Roby about eating lunch. To take that a bit further:

I don’t need to follow my impulses. Whatever short-term regret I have for not doing so will be forgotten rather quickly.

I don’t need that third beer. I mean, sure, The Trappist has many tasty beers and I might want to try a third, but if I deny that impulse, twenty minutes later I’ll have forgotten about it. Or, to be more accurate, I won’t feel the regret.

Other things I won’t feel the regret of once the moment passes:

  • Telling someone they’re wrong on the Internet. This one can be tough at times, especially when I don’t realize I just stepped into it, but in spite of the number of times people have seen me go aggro, there are quite a few times where I have been able to walk away because I thought “I’m not going to care about this argument in half on hour.”
    (Related, if you haven’t checked out E Foley’s article about Twitter, you really should: No One Is Holding Your Face In The Twitter Stream.)
  • Going to conventions. Missing PAX East sucked, but I was able to get through the jealousy of watching all the awesome being tweeted because I knew that a few days later, that would fade. Did I miss opportunities? Sure. But I’m playing the Long Game, and I trust there will be future opportunities, so I don’t need to chase after every one like a guy in a club desperately trying to get laid.
  • Taking on that really cool project.I get approached at times for cool projects, to be an editor or writer or whatever. Or a really awesome idea for a project happens in the shower. Or I meet someone and want to jam with them. (I like working with people on projects akin to getting people together to make a single album. I have a band mentality with many of my projects these days.) But it’s okay. I can write down some quick notes in my journal, close it, and let the moment pass. If the project is grabby enough in the months to come when my bandwidth changes, it’ll happen. Or some other project will, and that’s cool too.
  • Those Magic boosters will be there next week. Seriously.
  • I don’t need that third taco, or that soda. I really fucking don’t.

We’re constantly bombarded with new stimuli, so it’s not as if we’ll have the mental space to dwell on such little regrets.

– Ryan

[1] Because I was asked to clarify, Influencer has made concrete thoughts I’ve had about how we decide things, particularly the example of the guy losing weight and the people dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The idea of influencing by delaying an impulse and then seeing if the impulse continues to exist is powerful mojo.

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11 Responses to A Strange, New Realization

  1. Jarrett Rush says:

    Great post, and something I should keep in mind much more often than I actually do.

    Except for the part about tacos. Both you and my doctor are wrong there. Never say no to tacos.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Jarrett,

      Saying no to a taco today can mean saying yes to a taco tomorrow…if, like me, you make a LOT of taco meat in one sitting to have leftovers for days. :D

      Also, speaking to tacos is weird. Having to tell a taco “no means no” is just, like, awkward in public. Like a bad breakup, or having the gall to wear pants.

      – Ryan

    • pie says:

      don’t be silly, tacos don’t wear pants.

  2. That’s like 10 tweeps already talking well of Influencers, so off I go to the library.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Daniel,

      *fist bump*

      – Ryan

    • Fred Hicks says:

      I haven’t managed to finish it yet after a reasonably strong start, but that’s not the fault of the book, I just suck at reading nonfiction. (My struggle with regrets is often all about that, in fact: not being the guy who’s good at reading. To combat this, I surround myself with readers like Rob Donoghue.)

  3. I just started listening to the audiobook. The first chapter — where he does the sell job on what he’s about to tell you — is a bit annoying, but I’ve heard enough recommendations to endure it.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Gerald,

      I found that chapter a touch annoying, but short, and did lay some groundwork for the later ones.

      – Ryan

  4. Burrowowl says:

    While you do not need to follow your impulses, there are opportunities that, when passed, do not necessarily crop right back up. Failing to comply with that urge to introduce yourself to that pretty girl last Friday may have been the dumbest mistake you’ll ever make in your life.

    I find that resisting the urge to tell people they’re wrong on the Internet is to just cynically assume I’m getting trolled. I am a sad, frightened little man.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      That’s where I’d make the difference between and impulse and a weighed decision, even one weighed quickly.

      I still go to cons, take on cool projects, have a beer, eat a third taco, and enjoy socializing with lovely women. But when I’m on my A game, I’m doing so after turning an impulse into a weighed decision.

      – Ryan

    • Fred Hicks says:

      I think the “third” in “taco” is important, there. This realization isn’t just about saying “I will not take that path”, it’s also about saying “Wait, why the fuck am I on that path, I need to cut losses, take a few steps back, and go on that other one, dammit”.