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UP #2 and #3 teaser: The illusion of inertia

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Have you ever felt lost? Like, say you really wanted to learn something, e.g. programming, but the more you learn it, the more you feel that it’s out of your reach?

Well, it’s not that you’re not progressing, it’s more like the illusion of inertia’s gotten the better of you.

Really, you’ve made progress. By how much, I can’t say. Heck, I’m not omnipresent!! But it’s undeniable that you’ve improved from the day that you made a commitment in doing something that you really wanted to achieve from the first day. In the middle, though, you sorta become lost. What’s going on?

This principle’s gonna be short, because it’s really simple. Well, first of all, let’s have a look at what’s happening.

  1. You define your goal.
  2. You define your motivations
  3. You define a timeframe (which ALWAYS turn out wrong)…

n.    You’ve finally achieved it!!!

Two very important things are happening here to create the illusion of inertia:

1. Success comes at an instant and lasts for an instant. It’s realization, enjoyment, and you’re back to work.

(A more philosophical way to say it is probably, ‘It is but a flicker of your work, a bright, flashy flicker, yes, but all the same, a flicker’) The effort you put behind that success is ENORMOUS!!! But the moment of success is so short. The relative size of both benchmarks of action just can’t be compared. Do you get an ant to fight a tiger? Probably not.

(Yes, I’d like to define the two ‘literal’ benchmarks of action as 1) effort and 2) results (can be success or failure), but of course, there are many other ‘behind the scenes’ components of it.)

2. You miscalculated how much time you needed.

Many times over, we either overestimate or underestimate the timeframe in which we carry out our projects. And most of the times, that’s perfectly fine, because it’s extraordinarily difficult! (In 21 years of time, I take that back, because the human mind will be mapped out (supposedly) by then! Perhaps, we’d understand ourselves better… XD) So, if we went faster than we expected, we’d feel it’s not progressing to our expectations. Obviously, faster is better than slower, but it depends on the person, really. If s/he is highly unrealistic, then you can expect a HUGE gap between what is in reality and what is in his/her imagination. So, underestimating how much time you need for a project can be detrimental to your perception of progress. (Heck, imagine if you couldn’t calculate an approximate timeframe for it. How frustrating is that!! If you’re in an explorative field, for example, just like the Nobel prize winners of Physiology/Medicine of this year [2009], Dr. Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Dr. Carol W. Greider and Dr. Jack W. Szostak, for discovering the properties of telomerase in the protection of chromosomes, imagine the patience you’d have to have!!!)

That’s the scope of it.

But, of course, this section is called ‘Universal principles’ for a reason, from the basis that they have a universal range of applications. The illusion of inertia is applicable only to the personal improvement field, particularly in measuring progress, which is why this piece is a teaser for UP#2 and UP#3.

Thoughts, criticisms, comments welcome!!! Any ideas of what they could be? They’re mentioned in the passage! Look forward in hearing from you! (I’d offer a prize as an incentive, really, but if I’m still using a wordpress domain, you can estimate my, ‘hem-hem’, [lack of] wealth  ~ XD)