Half-Assing It With Everything You’ve Got

(Previously discussed on 2017-11-27)

  • Guilt/shame motivation works great right up until it stops working
  • If you want to be effective, remember your goals
  • Accomplish your goals with a minimum of wasted effort - doing something too well can be as wasteful as not doing it well enough, since it takes away time from you accomplishing the next thing
  • You don’t have enough energy or enough time to do everything perfectly - focus your energy on the things that you really care about and spend a minimum of effort on the other stuff
  • Remember what your goals are; deploy your full effort towards reaching them with a minimum of wasted motion

Failing With Abandon

(Previously discussed on 2016-11-07)

  • You can limit failure
  • It doesn’t follow that you can drop your self control entirely just because you’ve missed a goal by a little bit
  • You can stop yourself after going “one over”
  • Remember, you put your targets there - if you missed by a little bit, remember that it’s your target, not imposed by an external authority

Replacing Guilt

(Previously discussed on 2017-03-20)

  • Many people are motivated by guilt, shame or some combination of the two
  • This is inefficient, but it’s the primary means of motivation for many effective altruists
  • The problem is that leads to bursts of high intensity effort interspersed with periods of “laziness”
  • This is inefficient and unsustainable
  • Replace guilt-based motivation with intrinsic motivation for a steadier, more efficient, more sustainable means of working
  • Goals
    • Address guilt that comes from listlessness
    • Listlessness often comes from a feeling that there must be more to life than one’s day to day activities

The Stamp Collector

(Previously discussed on 2017-03-20)

  • Thought experiment of the stamp-collecting robot
  • Can the robot really be a stamp collector if it doesn’t have access to true knowledge of its own inventory?
  • This is a philosophical error
    • The robot doesn’t have “true” access to any part of its own internal state
    • The robot builds a model of the world that includes itself and its stamp inventory
    • The robot applies actions to that model and takes those actions that increase the number of stamps in the model
  • Actions don’t have inherent value; what has value is the world-states that result from applying those actions to the present world state
  • People, like the stamp collecting robot, can choose to value world states rather than internal state
    • Not everyone chooses world states that result in increases of their own short-term pleasure
    • Not every action can be explained in terms of individual pleasure maximization

You’re Allowed To Fight For Something

(Previously discussed on 2017-03-20)

  • Listless guilt is guilt that stems from not doing anything
  • We can’t do anything about the guilt that results from not doing anything, but we can do something about the guilt that results from not doing a particular thing
  • Many people say that people only do whatever they “want” to do
    • This is broadening the term “want” to include both actions and goals
    • These are separate concepts, and therefore should be described with separate words
  • You don’t need a reason or excuse to care about things larger than yourself
  • Many people forget that they’re allowed to want a future that’s different from the present
  • If you have listless guilt, try to figure out what specific things you’re guilty about
    • This may not make the guilt go away
    • In fact, it might make the guilt worse
    • But once you know what you’re guilty about, you can take specific steps to address that guilt