The Perception of Effort – How To Win Long Term

A Massive Problem

Often I spend time thinking about why people do or don’t do things.

Jordan Peterson talks about this in length. The fact that with surgery and horrible illnesses people don’t follow directions crucial to their health and fall ill/into deaths arms from it.

It’s a complicated subject.

On one hand, we have the people who think something takes a lot of effort.

“I can’t take a supplement every meal every day” 

And on the other hand, the importance of the outcome is massive.

With this subdivide we create two sections of people, the doers and the won’t-ers (yes, I made that up). Two people similar in nature, who perceive the effort of something very different.

There’s a reason that you give the busiest person in the room the task that needs to be done. They are a doer.

Now for those people who want everything and love complaining about it, but won’t do anything, we have a stereotypical won’t-er.

How can you spot the difference?

The answer lies in their perception of effort and energy in their mind.

What Is Effort and How Do We Perceive It?

Effort is the perception of the energy a task requires.

We will return to that in a moment…

It’s the perception of effort that makes all the difference. For instance, starting a business may sound like a lot of effort to someone who never has started a business before, and it doesn’t sound like much effort for a serial entrepreneur.

Which is the case for most tasks in life.

The chronic gymgoer sees working out as easy, while the Netflix binger hears “gym” and sinks into the couch with fear.

Following the perception of effort a task requires is interesting. Take, for instance – choosing what to wear in the morning.

You scramble over outfit after outfit until it wears you out. Yes, this does take up a bit of our mental effort and can lead to worse performance throughout the day. Although, the energy required is minor.

Mark Zuckerburg, Steve Jobs, and Barack Obama all wear the same thing daily to prevent this.

But look at clothing stylists. All day they figure out outfits, help people dress, and do not get tired of doing it.

The mindset switched from effort to an accomplishment where “dress for success” energy holds true.

Whether you are one of the richest people in the world or not, perceived effort holds your mind hostage. 

Energy, Our Long-Term Motivator

Effort = Amount of energy needed.

Ever noticed how busy people often have cluttered homes? I’m not talking doers, but won’t-ers with chaotic lives.

The perception of energy required to clean their home seems greater than the energy of their task at hand.

They switch from an abundance of energy (doer) to conservation or scarcity of it (won’t-er). Which literally means that those who view a task with higher energy expenditure than they are used to, often won’t do it.

Our brains are smart. In times of chaos and stress, they conserve energy. If something bad happens, they can use that energy.

Today, these reptilian parts need to be trained to look at tasks differently.

For instance, yesterday I looked forward to going to the gym to start my day. I began with my favorite superset:

  • Deadlift 3×5
  • Muscle Up 3×5
  • 1 Arm Barbell Shoulder Press 5/side

This superset requires a lot of energy, but in my mind, it was a simple task to do BEFORE I start the day.

Which is a testament to the mental power in the perception of effort?

If you always lie at a deficit calorically you will 1.) be messier 2.) be more likely to cheat on your spouse 3.) probably feel like you have low energy.

We are energy machines.

Meaning that if you increase your energy, you increase your ability to do strenuous tasks because your body is thinking from a surplus.

Sunlight, grounding, eating whole foods, and a whole host of items do this.

Yet, with the power of our minds, we can change the perception of effort a task takes.

Thinking Long Term Vs. Short Term

Most people are familiar with short and long-term thinking.

Surprisingly, most humans do not act like it.

We often take the marshmallow(1) now instead of holding off for more later. 

We forego setting up a productive morning routine to “jump into the day.”

Newsflash – you always have a morning routine – you just aren’t conscious of it. And this thinking paralyzed the world.

The reason?

We perceive long-term tasks as requiring more energy.

Although, just like the weightlifter lifting out of enjoyment, our perception of the energy that task takes starts to diminish with practice.

Meaning that doing the short term task often takes more energy from you now and for the long term, than the long-term ever will.

These short-term tasks often are unnecessary, they also cause unnecessary stress.

Return to the example of a morning routine. Up front, it takes energy to build the routine and the habits that make up your morning.

Until, just like driving, you don’t have to think about each habit… It just happens.

Now, opting for no routine is different. Maybe you wake up late, maybe early.

Maybe you check your phone right away, or maybe you jump right into work. 

While that seems like it is less energy, in the long-term it requires more.

The phone and work that you jump into immediately tailspins your mood and energy for the day.

Sad, depressed, annoyed, angry people get less done.

And thus your “no morning routine” routine has an effect.

How To Set Yourself Up For Long-Term Success

Before we get to the long-term success, we need to understand how it will play out in our mind.

It isn’t easy.

Choosing the long-term foregoes a list of the reptilian’s brains favorite things.

We opt out of the cookie (short-term energy boost) and opt into boundless energy from a better diet (long-term sustainable energy).

How do we do that?

It starts with conscious control of actions.

Take your morning habits…

Consciously create a morning routine built with purpose, and in no time it will be on autopilot.

The same goes for everything you do.

  • What you eat
  • Your Job
  • How you conduct personal relationships with others
  • Controlling your life

While many of these tasks seem like they will take time and energy, it pays off.

Delaying gratification can be powerful.

Mastering Long-Term Thinking

1. Consciously Control Your Actions

This is the most important.

Controlling your actions consciously…

Start doing it with everything that you do.

You’ll notice more and more pulled into your awareness, more than you can control, and more than you can align for long-term success.

What we tune our reticular activating system into is what gets our attention.

2. Do What’s Hard Now

Go to the gym. Eat Healthier. Create a morning and nightly routine. Work.

Do what is hard now.

Not only will it set you up for longevity, but also it makes it so your future self is happy.

3. Plan For The Future – Loosely

The future changes fast.

Plan for it, but don’t make it stiff and rigged.

Provide flexibility in the determining of your long-term goals and how you will get there.

Not only does this give you peace of mind, but a direction to head in.

4. Enjoy The Process

Life is not about the end.

Actually, the end of life is death.

Life is about experiencing the journey and enjoying it the whole way through.

That’s why we love movies about regular life. It’s fascinating, but also reminds us of our life by glimpsing into someone else’s.

And that’s it.

Those are four rules that help kick me out of short-term quick energy mindset and into the long term.

My question for you:

What have you been putting off that takes time and energy, but will set you up later in life?

Do that now.

And remember, life is about the process.

Enjoy it,


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