Chip Is Alive!, Issue 15
Welcome to Issue 15 of Chip Is Alive!, where we examine thought-provoking life strategies and issues which may or may not be of interest to you. Chip Is Alive! is inspired by Chip Vivant, the app who thinks he's alive and wants to be your friend and help you in ways that other productivity apps can't. You can meet Chip at www.empathynow.com.
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In this issue, we'll discuss:
- my juggling-as-a-metaphor-for-achieving-your-lifelong-goals experiment and how it's coming
- heartwarming testimonials I got on Christmas Eve
Too Many Balls in the Air
Two months ago, I recounted that one of my lifelong goals is to be able to juggle three objects. It's a goal that I've had and neglected since my childhood. Before Chip and Empathy Now, there was a very real possibility that I would have neglected this goal for the rest of my lifetime.
Anyway, I threw down the gauntlet and programmed in a 15-minute daily juggling to-do. For me, this juggling to-do and my eventual mastery of the skill was a metaphor for all of our low-priority, lifelong to-dos that we will likely neglect without the proper nurturing and encouragement.
My initial goal was to spend fifteen minutes a day, no more and no less, and prove that small daily increments of time over long periods can allow you to achieve any of your low-priority lifelong goals.
Two months into the experiment, here are my experiences:
- The fifteen minutes a day didn't happen. I was very diligent at first, but then would get irritated that I'd have to shave, set up the iPad for filming, etc. etc. The practice itself wasn't that daunting initially, but then life happened, along with trips to Santa Barbara, other "real" obligations, and so on.
- Another frustration with only fifteen minutes per day was that I felt like I was hardly making any progress at all. Like I mentioned before, I have nearly zero natural aptitude for juggling, so I felt during a fifteen minute session, I would barely build up the critical mass of progress I needed and would basically have to start over again each day. Plus, I could see that this process would take many, many months. It was very discouraging.
- Eventually, I stopped beating myself up about daily practice and decided that I would practice as long as I wanted and whenever I wanted to and just use Chip to remind me not to forget. There were days that I didn't practice at all and other days that I spent hours practicing. This is similar to the way that I learn foreign languages.
As you can see from the above video, I didn't achieve my goal of juggling by year-end, but it wasn't for lack of trying. I have made progress and believe I will eventually succeed, but it is taking longer than I expected.
My takeaway from all of this: there are two types of to-dos:
- those whose completion times are deterministic and where completion speed can be doubled by doubling the amount of time spent (examples: organizing your closet, cleaning your garage)
- those whose completion times are unknown in advance (example: anything involving learning a new skill such juggling or a foreign language)
Another realization I made is that while both types of to-dos are ego-depleting, the latter type of to-dos are also mentally draining. This makes procrastination all that much more tempting. I failed to make this distinction when I first got into all of this and now need to wrap my head around this. In particular, I need to read up on strategies for coping with the mental drain and desire to procrastinate that learning a new skill can cause, especially in the context of my day job which is also mentally draining (computer programming).
All in all, this has been a humbling experience. With the juggling, there were times that I was absolutely convinced that I will never succeed in this: the progress was too slow and sometimes, non-existent. I would remind myself that I felt the same way about learning to whistle when I was eight, that there were months in which absolutely no progress seemed to be made, and that success came one day out of the blue and just like that. My goal still is to make a triumphant video where I'm juggling the entire time that I narrate the video extolling the virtue of working towards your lifelong goals.
Chip's Tips: Heartwarming Testimonials
No tips this week. Just a shout out to Ann and JoAnn who signed up for Chip and are using him to remind them of their exercises and to practice violin. Both of them say that they feel guilty when they ignore Chip, which is wonderful news to me. I've said this before, but personally, I don't feel guilty when I ignore Chip, but the reminders don't stop and therefore, these tasks always stay on the forefront of my consciousness and don't slip into the background the way low-priority lifelong goals often do.
Happy New Year!