Lag. Earlier this month I read Superhuman by Habit by Tynan. I found the book because I read his blog, and while it’s not a great book on habits it’s good enough. If you read Tynan or want to read about anecdotal habit formation in less than 100 pages this book is a good fit for that.
Among the many nice observations, was this one about lag:
Beyond the inherent randomness in life is the fact that progress lags behind action. If you eat perfectly healthy for a week, you may not lose any weight at all. But if you eat well for years, you can make a safe bet that you will be in better shape, be healthier, and feel better than if you hadn’t. Most habits worth having are long-term ones.
Sometimes I fall victim to the delayed effects of my actions but this idea of lag gives a name to the thing I was worried about.
One condition I’m constantly coming back to is my health and fitness. At the end of October I’m going to play ultimate frisbee with friends from college. This is an annual tradition, and one I’m usually barely in shape for. This year and last were exceptions because I’ve been involved with training programs. In years past however, I was in much poorer shape and scrambling to get ready a few weeks before. Now I have a fitness lag that’s trailing behind me. I could do nothing two weeks before we play, and still be in good shape for the physical part of the games because I’ve built up my conditioning.
This same lag exists with your paycheck. After college, but before graduate school, I worked in a jewelry store. That store paid employees three weeks after you worked the hours you were being paid for. Upon entering graduate school my stipend and checks didn’t get deposited right away, but I had the lag of jewelry store checks rolling in like waves on a beach.
This all comes back around to writing, and trying to be a writer. Writing is the ultimate lag activity because of the absolute sink hole that time falls into at the beginning of any project. Add up the efforts directly associated with trying to be a writer; time spent reading, writing, listening to podcasts, and editing. Drafting drafts, blog posts, and proof reading everything and it’s about twenty hours a week. That’s a part time job, which to date has paid me approximately $3 a week.
What illuminates the demoralizing aspect of delayed success is when I can see how one part of my life has the solution to another. Tynan is like an older brother shining a light in a dark room to prove that the monster I see is only a messy dresser.
One of my current writing project is The Waiter’s Pad, my notes from the James Altucher interviews.