How to Stop Wasting Your Life – Dr. Jordan Peterson

Dr. JORDAN PETERSON: I’ll tell you what it is that you need to do to be successful. Some of these things aren’t so malleable, but others are things that you can work on. Well, IQ… that’s a rough one. Because it there’s no evidence, as far as I can tell, that you can do a damn thing about your IQ.

I have review that literature like 6 times in the last 15 years because I keep hoping that someone will crack the problem, but it’s always the same answers. It’s like, you do brain training games, and you get better at the game, a lot better at that game. You get slightly better at similar games. But distal games, that are still heavily cognitively loaded, doesn’t affect your performance at all.”0″, none.

So the issue of how to raise IQ, man that’s a killer. No one knows how to do it. I can tell you how to stop your IQ from decreasing as you get older. That’s not so bad, causes it does that. Fluid IQ decreases from the time you’re 20 and pretty rapidly. It’s a physical health is the best preventative.

So exercise, physical exercise weirdly enough, you would think, “well, why?” Well your brain uses oxygen like mad, right? It needs to be kept clean and well oxygenated, and physical exercise, both like weight lifting, so anaerobic and aerobic exercise, both seem to be very, very effective at staving off cognitive declines across the lifespan.

So that’s a really useful thing to know because that’s the only thing we know that does that. So then the next best predictor of lifetime successes conscientiousness. And of the two aspects of conscientiousness, say orderliness and industriousness, the better predictor is industriousness. So the question is, “well, what can you do about your industriousness?”

And the answer to that is well that’s kind of rough too because there is a strong genetic component, but you can work on micro habits with regards to your conscientiousness and I think the best thing you can do with regards to your conscientiousness is to set up some aims for yourself, goals that you actually value and so the questions are something like, well,

Alright, you’re going to have to put some effort into your life and you need to be motivated to do that. And so what are the potential sources of motivation? Well, you can think about them in the Big Five manner. You know, if you’re extroverted, you want friends. If you’re agreeable, you want an intimate relationship. If you are disagreeable, you want to win competitions.If you’re open, you want to engage in creative activity.

If you’re high in Neuroticism, you want security.Okay, so those are all sources of potential motivation that you could draw on, that you can tailor to your own personality. But then there are dimensions that you want to consider your life across. And so we ask people about, well, you know, if you could have your life the way you wanted it in 3 to 5 years, if you were taking care of yourself properly, what would you want from your friendships?

What would you want from your intimate relationship? How would you like to structure your family? What do you want for your career? How are you going to use your time outside of your job? And how are you going to regulate your mental and physical health? And maybe also your drug and alcohol use because that’s a good place to auger down.

Because alcoholism, for example, wipes out 5% to 10% of people, so you want to keep that under control. And then maybe you develop a vision of what you would like your life to be, then you break down the goal into micro processes that you can implement. The microprocessors become rewarding in relation to their causal association with the goal, and that tangles in your incentive reward system

The top of energic incentive reward system, and that’s the thing that keeps you moving forward and the way it works is that it produces positive motion when it can see you moving towards a valued goal.

Okay, well, what’s the implication of that? Better have a valued goal, because otherwise you can’t get any positive motivation working out. And so the more valuable the goal, in principle, the more the micro processes associated with that goal start to take on a positive charge.And so what that means is, well, you get up in the morning and you’re excited about the day you’re ready to go.

And so as far as I can tell, what you do is you specify your long term ideal maybe you also specify a place you want to stay the hell away from, so that you’re terrified to fail, as well as excited about succeeding, cause that’s also useful. You specify your goal.

You do that, in some sense, as a unique individual. You want to specify goals that make you say, “Oh, if that could happen as a consequence of my efforts, it would clearly be worthwhile.” Because the question always is, why do something? Is doing nothing is easy. You just sit there and you don’t do anything. How to really easy, the question is, why would you ever do anything?

And the answer to that has to be, because you’ve determined by some means that it’s worthwhile. And then the next question might be, well, where should you look for worthwhile things? And one would be, well, you could consult your own temperament. And the other would be, well, you kind of look at what it is that people accrue that’s valuable across the lifespan. So you do a structural analysis of the sub components of human existence, and already did that.

You need a family, you need friends. Like, you don’t need to have all these things. But you better have most of them. Family, friends, career, educational goals, plans for, you know, time outside of work, attention to your mental and physical health, etc. You know, that’s what life is about. And if you don’t have any of those things, well, then all you’ve got left is misery and suffering. So that’s a bad deal for you. But once you set up that goal structure, let’s say, and that’s really in many ways, that’s what you should be doing at university.

That exactly what you should be doing, is trying to figure out who it is that you’re trying to be, right? You aim at that and then use everything you learned as a means of building that person that you want to be, in and I really mean “want to be” I don’t mean should be,” even those things those things are going to overlap. And it’s important to distinguish between those, and this is back down to the micro routine analysis, so if I say.

Well, you are going to try to make yourself more industrious.Okay number one, specify your damn goals, because how are you going to hit something if you don’t know what it is? That isn’t going to happen.And often people won’t specify their goals to, because they don’t like to specify conditions for failure.So if you keep yourself all Fagan foggy, which is really easy because that’s just a matter of not doing as well, then you don’t know when you fail.

And people might say, “Well, I really don’t want to know when I fail because that’s painful so all keep me blind about when I fail.” That’s fine, except you fail all the time then.You just won’t know until you have failed so badly that you’re done. And that can easily happen by the time you’re 40.

So I would recommend that you don’t let that happen. So that’s willful blindness, right? You could have known, but you chose not to.Okay, so once you get your goal structure set up, you think,“okay, if I could have this life, looks like that might be worth living.” Despite the fact that it’s going to be, you know anxiety provoking and threatening. There’s going to be some suffering and loss involved at all of that.

Obviously. The goal is to have a vision for your life such that, all things considered, that justifies your effort.Okay, so then what do you do? Then you turn down to the micro routines. It’s like, okay, this is what I’m aiming for. How does that instantiate itself day to day, week to week, and month to month? And that’s where something like a schedule can be unbelievably useful. It’s like, make a damn schedule! And stick to it.Okay, so what’s the rule with the schedule? It’s not a bloody prison.

That’s the first thing that people do wrong. They say, “Well, I don’t like tap follow a schedule.”Well, what kind of schedule are you setting up? “Well, I have to do this, then I have to do this, then I have to do this.” You know, and then I just go play video games, because who wants to do all these things that I have to do?” It’s like wrong.

Set the damn schedule up, so that you want! That’s the trick. It’s like, okay, I’ve got tomorrow, if I was going to set it up so with the best possible day I could have practically speaking, what would it look like? Well, then you schedule that!And obviously, there’s a bit of responsibility that’s going to go along with that, because if you have any sense, one of the things that you’re going to insist upon is that at the end of the day, you’re not in worse shape than you were at the beginning of the day, right? Because that’s a stupid day!

If you have a bunch of those in a row, you dig yourself a whole and then you bury yourself in it. It’s like, sorry, that’s just not a good strategy. It’s a bad strategy. So maybe, 20% of your day has to be responsibility and obligation, or maybe it’s more than that depending on how far behind you are. But even that, you can ask yourself, “Okay, well I’ve got these responsibilities…” I have to schedule the damn things in…

”“What’s the right ratio of responsibility to reward?” and you can ask yourself that, just like you negotiate with someone who is working for you. It’s like, okay, you got to work tomorrow. Okay so I want you to work tomorrow and you might say, “Okay, well what are you going to do for me that make it likely that I’ll work for you?”Well, you could ask yourself that, you know? Maybe you do an hour of responsibility, in any play video games for 15 minutes. I don’t know.Whatever turns your crank, man? But… you have to negotiate with yourself and not tyrannize yourself.

Like you’re negotiating with someone that you care for, that you would like to be productive and have a good life. And that’s how you make the schedule. Then you look at the day and you think “well, if I had that day, that the good.” Great! You know, and you’re useless and horrible, so you’ll probably only hit it with about 70% accuracy, but that beats the hell out of 0%, right?
And if you hit it even with 50% accuracy, another rule is, well, aim for 51% the next week or fifty and a half percent for God sake, or because you’re going to hit that position where things start to loop back positively in spiral you upward. So that’s one way that you can work on your conscientiousness.

Plan a life you’d like to have! And you do that partly by referring to social norms. That’s more or less; rescuing you is farther from the belly of the whale. But the way either way you do that is by having a little conversation with yourself. As if you don’t really know who you are. Because you know what you’re like you won’t do what you’re told. You won’t do what you tell yourself to do.

You must have noticed that.It like; you’re a bad employee and a worst boss.And both of those work, you know, for you. You don’t know what you want to do and then when you tell yourself what to do, you don’t do it anyways. You should fire yourself and find someone else to be. But, you know, what my point is that you have to understand that you’re not your own servant so to speak.

You’re someone that you have to negotiate with, and you’re someone that you want to present the opportunity of having a good life to.And that’s hard for people, because they don’t like themselves very much. So, you know, they’re always like crack in the weapon and procrastinating and cracking the whip and then procrastinating, and it’s like, God… It’s so boring and such a pathetic way of spending your time.

And you know what that’s like because you probably waste like 6 hours a day. And I think we did an economic calculation about that awhile back, right? Your time is probably worth $50 an hour. Something likes that. I mean you’re not getting paid that now, but you’re young, and so this is investment time and what you do now is going to multiply its effects in the future, so let’s say it’s $50 an hour, which is perfectly reasonable.

So if you waste6 hours a day, and you are, then you’re wasting about $2,000 a week for about a $100,000 a year so like, go ahead but that’s what it’s costing you every hour.And you need to know what your down time is worth! So let’s say it’s not $50. It’s $30. Whatever, maybe it’s a $100. It’s somewhere in that range.One of the things you should be asking yourself is when you spend an hour, was that, well…

What if I paid someone $50 to have had that hour? And if the answer is no, it’s like, well maybe you should do something else with your time. And it depends on whether or not you think that your time is worthwhile. But the funny thing about not assuming that is if you assume your time isn’t worthwhile, what happens is you don’t just sit around sort of randomly in a state of responsibility lists bliss. What you do is you suffer existentially and so, that seems like a stupid solution.

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How to Stop Wasting Your Life – Dr. Jordan Peterson

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