9. Tell me One Thing that you’ve Learned from Scrolling through Insta Last Week. “Inflating the Investment”

The highlights and notes are derived from Section III: Chapter 9 of the Book, The Heart to Start, by David Kadavy.

Let’s give ourselves the Permission to Begin and Finish:

Opening Quote,

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

Ray Bradbury

This up coming passion may relate to you, maybe with Instagram, Snapchat, or Pornhub related videos (lol):

“A couple of years ago, I was hooked on Facebook. I might have enjoyed seeing what was going on with my friends for a few minutes a day, but just touching my phone would quickly spiral me into compulsively scrolling through the news feed, sometimes for an hour or more, getting no enjoyment out of it at all. I would even say to myself out loud, ‘Why are you doing this? You don’t want to be doing this. Stop!”’

“When I could finally pull myself away, I’d feel drained. I’d been giving myself tiny dopamine hits, like a lab rat with his brain wired to a switch. I wasn’t building toward a long-term reward. It was as if I had eaten cotton candy for breakfast, and now I was crashing from my sugar high.”

Part 1, An example of how to break a bad habit with books:

“[Nick Gray] told me something that would help me hijack my Facebook habit with a better habit. He said that every few weeks, he’d check out a bunch of books from the library and lay them out on his coffee table. He’d pick one up, flip through it a bit, and, if he got bored, he’d pick up a different book.”

“Just picturing having a pile of physical books in front of me, I could feel a spark in my mind. I knew this was going to help me kick my Facebook habit.

I know now that, when it came to the things I wanted to be doing, I was Inflating the Investment. If I wanted to be writing, it was too easy for me to assume that it would be a big commitment to begin writing. If I wanted to be reading, it was too easy for me to assume that it would be a big commitment to begin reading.

Definition of Inflating the Investment:

“Inflating the Investment is kind of like the Fortress Fallacy, but on a microcosmic level – except that when you Inflate the Investment, you don’t intimidate yourself into not starting, or lead yourself into burnout because you’re picturing a project beyond your abilities. When you Inflate the Investment, you prevent yourself from starting in the moment because you assume it’s too big a commitment. You assume you don’t have enough time. As a result, you cause yourself to procrastinate with something that’s a smaller commitment.”

There is a Difference between a Small Commitment and a Small Investment

Example of committing to a smaller commitment:

“You might reason to yourself that if you start reading a book, you can hardly gain momentum. You’ll end up stopping in the middle of a chapter, or maybe you’ll not even get through one page. But if you check Facebook, you’ll get instant gratification. You’ll see updates from your friends, and you might even have some new likes.”

Example of committing to a bigger commitment:

“If you’re reading a book, you could wind up learning a great deal. If you’re scanning Facebook, you’ll more likely get a series of short snippets, all of which don’t add up to much.”

“The thing that keeps you from reading the book instead of scanning Facebook is Inflating the Investment. Reading the book feels like a big commitment. It feels like you won’t get much out of it unless you have a solid block of time. But you can scan Facebook for one minute, or you can scan Facebook for a couple of hours. So it’s easy to choose Facebook over reading.

Part 2, An example of how to break a bad habit with books:

“The breakthrough idea from Nick’s ritual of laying out a pile of books was that he was completely reducing the commitment involved in reading a book. He could treat each book as you might treat a single post on Facebook: Check it out for a second, if it’s interesting, investigate more. Otherwise, move on, guilt free.

“By reducing my own sense of commitment in reading a book, I gave reading a fighting chance over Facebook when I had a moment free. Like many people, I had previously believed that if I picked up a book, I was somehow committing to reading the whole book. Or I’d think that I needed to start at the beginning, with the introduction. With my new relationship to books, I had complete permission to start wherever I liked and to put the book down if it wasn’t interesting….”

The moral of the story:

“…I found that there were many little pockets of time throughout my day when I could have been reading – yet I had been filling those pockets with Facebook.”

“I’ve extended this method of mentally reducing the investment to other parts of my work. If I have a moment free, I might pick up my phone and brainstorm… By giving myself permission to make a small investment in my art, I sometimes build momentum.”

Question of the chapter:

What low-commitment things do you end up doing instead of making your art?

“I inflated the investment, in part, because I believed I had to read a book from start to finish. A similar mental distortion makes us think that we need to make our art in a linear progression.”

Next Chapter: The Linear Work Distortion

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