Righteous Feedback Loops of Self-Improvement
I start every day with a mantra of three questions and two modifiers to help condition my mind and get into the mindset of journaling. Through this daily practice, I'm learning to focus on small wins and use tools like Linux, Python, vim, and git to mechanically get tasks done. I'm also avoiding activities like video games and sports that may have long-term payoffs, and instead focusing on projects that will help me achieve small wins.
Unlocking the Power of Small Wins with Self-Improvement Rituals
By Michael Levin
Friday, May 13, 2022
Doing better for yourself starts with a few words.
These words, as small as they are, if you actually internalize them and act on them repeatedly and daily in a habit-forming way will change your life for the better in ways that you can visualize and imagine.
Everything challenge in life looks too big and difficult to be unachievable. Every hurdle and obstacle in life looks insurmountable. They are most decidedly not or else others wouldn’t be able to achieve them either. And it’s not talent (not all of it) or the luck of the rich or cheating. Plenty of rich people stumble and are propped-up hollow shells. Plenty of poor people claw and climb and toil to the top.
Words. Just words. Re-craft the words and re-craft your brain. Re-craft your brain and re-craft your attitude. Re-craft your attitude and change your daily habits. Change your daily habits and put your life on a new course.
Yeah, see? I lost almost everyone by this time.
I’ve got a new mantra. I’ve got a new tagline. I’ve got a new creed. I’ve got a new motto. I’ve got a new litany.
See? Labels are stupid.
But they are useful.
Words are symbols and powerful.
You can invent spells with words.
They help shape your mind. Every thought you have changes you. Every word you read creates thought.
The words you put in front of you every morning or at the beginning of every day or worksession matter. They set the tone and the mental-state for the entire day.
Do it right. Don’t leave it to chance. Have little poems or prayers or ditties that massage your brain into the right place. It’s a form of self-hypnosis, self-improvement, promoting getting into “the zone” or “the flow”.
Thinking doesn’t come easy. Actual real thinking of the sort that you believe you do, but probably haven’t done since a teacher challenged you in school, or you reflected upon the last book you just read, doesn’t come… well, at all for most people, I would guess.
Most people, I believe, are on that click-whirr mode, which is one of the big things that stuck with me from Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion. Pavlov’s dog-style condition/response is the rule. You’ve been trained by your parents, society, school and other forces. That is now who you are like 99% of the time. That last 1% that reflects the you that is in your genetic hardware and the you that some ineffable spirit inside of you would like to be is that last 1% that usually never comes out, and which you have almost no voluntary access to.
I, with my increased daily journaling, and subduing that click-whirr Pavlovian lower-level animalistic program of conditioned responses. I am less animal than I was a month ago. I am more human. My abilities are increasing at a rapid pace. My ability to help my spouse struggling with similar issues is increasing rapidly. My spouse’s abilities are as a result also increasing rapidly.
So what are these magic words that condition my mind and get me in the mindset of journaling? What is this incantation that starts my day? What is the new addition?
- What’s most broken?
- Where can I get the biggest bang for the buck?
- What plates need to be spun?
And the above questions have the 2 following “modifiers” to judge decisions:
- Am I abiding by the 80/20-rule? (front-loading receiving 4/5ths of the benefit of doing a thing from the 1st 1/5th of work)
- Does it pass the Rabbit Hole Evaluation? (Might you fall-in and lose yourself in this task? Or the whole day? Or the whole point? If so, don’t.)
And I’m just over 50 years old. I have deep, rich, forever-abilities abilities inside of me. Of course they’re tied to my vim writing abilities you’re seeing expressed here. But they’re also tied to Python, linux and git–all of which qualify me for about a zillion things in life that I could love doing and would get paid for. They are surer assets than money in the bank.
What they haven’t done for me is put money in the bank. But it’s about time that it does. So, how?
Well, getting things done, of course.
Getting the things done that I have been deferring with the spinning plates metaphor.
I’ve been spinning a lot of plates. Each plate is a thing. Each plate is a potential “project” in and of itself. I’m soooo tempted to use the “project” label over “thing”. But thing is more accurate, because each thing I want to get done is just some little thing. I don’t have to give it more power by calling it a project. No, no, no!
The “project” build-up is bad brain-crafting. Craft my brain properly. Do it well. Tap my neuroplasticity that’s still actually malleable at fifty-one years-old (yes, we are as dynamic of individuals as we care to be / if not, shame on you and your parents)… and stick with the less formal and lower expectations of things.
Every Little THING gets done.
Every Little Thing gets done… usually on Linux, Python, vim & git in my case. I’m sure for you it may be different, but as far as generic infotech tools go in life, you can do a lot worse that LPvg.
And so, ELTgd on LPvg.
See? A magic spell!
See? If you can cast it successfully, the result is the righteous feedback loop of self-improvement.
The new mantra is: Every Little Thing gets done.
Get a little thing done.
Revel in the positivity this little win produces in your body. There is an absolutely physical component to this feedback loop. Neurotransmitter chemicals such as dopamine or serotonin get released in your blood.
You then look for the next little win.
Yes, little. Very little. The smaller the win that can produce the automatic response I discuss, the more righteous the feedback loop. Get addicted to banking tiny little win after win.
If you don’t feel the dopamine or serotonin flowing, there’s something else wrong and is very serious and must be worked on. You are allowed to reward yourself for small wins.
If a little voice chimes-in to downplay, invalidate or otherwise discredit your small-win, then you have been Pavlovian conditioned to hate yourself. There is a self-love-blocking autonomic response that someone probably very self-hating themselves coded into you while you were still very tiny and unable to defend yourself against such wickedness.
It’s not fair and shouldn’t have been done to you. But don’t let that stop you. There is a lever in your head that you must pull. You must pull it yourself. Outside forces such as a spouse or loved-one can help you by applying external force. The external force may also even be a reprehensible individual who is applying such force because they don’t really care about you. Or it may be a therapist using some radical technique.
In any case, they’re helping you move where your hand is on the lever. They are moving your hand farther away from the lever’s fulcrum in order to achieve greater mechanical advantage.
Review the good. Create evidence and reminders of your achievements, your worthiness of a spot in this material world. We’re all “vibe” experiments of nature or God. Religious or not, take notice of the probabilities that led to your existence. It’s more likely a whale pops spontaneously into the air (read Hitchhiker’s Guide). You are so worthy of those good feelings for celebrating being here alone. Every little win is a miracle to be celebrated.
Every little win.
Even the strange capitalization encodes important information, such as the effort of getting it done is actually small compared to Every Little Thing needing the doing.
And so: gets done, gets done, gets done.
…is not deserving of capitalization. It would build it up in much the same way calling these things “projects” would undeservedly build them up.
Don’t build things up into projects.
Dispense with those things. Dispatch your muscle-memory capabilities and natural proclivity to know stuff gets done. You know how stuff gets done mechanically, tool-wise, in your body and in your bones.
And so get to work committing those worthwhile skills and abilities to your muscle memory: Linux, Python, vim & git
Dial-down focus on video games, rich-people sports, and other pastimes whose payoffs are years or decades away and which build up the little things into PROJECTS, thereby providing a part of you the perfect excuse to lunge at excuses as to why it’s not getting done.
- What’s most broken?
- Where’s the biggest bang for the buck?
- What plates need spinning?
- 80/20-rule evaluation
- Rabbit-hole evaluation
KEEPING ON TRACK
- ELTgd, so get some little thing done
- LPvg are muscle-memory-committable tools so your executive function is freed up
Rinse and repeat every day, during a time of the day when you can sustain and recover from consecutive triggering.
Don’t do it at night right before going to sleep, please!
And that is the righteous feedback loop, my friends.
Now if you can just find where to grip that lever to release the neurotransmitters on achieving the small wins, the floodgates will open.