Future Literacy
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Future Literacy

The power law of good behavior

Power laws are manifest everywhere. For example (and ~):

. 80% of language uses 20% of its words
. 80% of sales come from 20% of customers
. 80% of internet traffic goes to 20% of websites

They are disproportionately useful if you can harness their energy.

When applied to personal behavior, it’s likely that 80% of our individual bad behavior is attributable to versions of ourselves that exist only 20% of the time. For example, that 10pm version of you who drinks excessively, texts the ex that isn’t good for you and neglects basic self care.

Around the holiday season, this 20% version of yourself can become fully in charge where one more cookie, drink, or late night doesn’t matter anymore because you’ll address the carnage in January when you’ll be making a legitimate fresh start at being your best self.

To combat this, here is a technique I’ve used with success:

Step 1: identify the versions of yourself most responsible for bad behavior. Assign them names, describe the circumstances where and when they exist and write out their tendencies.

Step 2: list what decisions they are authorized to make, i.e. can they decide whether or not to consume alcohol past 5pm or has that decision power been revoked?

Step 3: become aware of when these versions of yourself show up and make note of what they’re asking you to do.

Step 4: check their requests against what you’ve written down and approve or deny

Step 5: celebrate happy you because you prevented these lesser versions of you from committing self harm.

The forethought of this process allows you to avoid testing your strength of willpower in the moment; a battle that can sometimes be lost 100% of the time.

Why am I sending this you may wonder? For the first time in a long time, there is a legitimate opportunity to meaningfully evolve ourselves and ride the torrid wave of technological advance. The baby step in this direction is to stop endlessly committing self harm in the silliest of ways.

Preventing versions of ourselves from behaving badly doesn’t have the same shiny allure as new technology, but that mustn’t stop us from seeing their equivalence of importance.

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