Posted by: Chris­™ | January 11, 2008

The Logic of Inaction

If you’re anything alike myself, you’re probably pretty decent at rationalizing. You can perceive cause and effect keenly and you are able to plan while accounting for probabilities and causalities. However, on the other side of the double-edged sword, you also happen to be very good at giving yourself quality justification for almost anything.

When it comes to avoidance, we tend to be quite creative and prudent with our vindications. Say you really wanted to go buy groceries yesterday, but after work you were just so tired it was ‘better for your health’ to leave it for another day. And you absolutely wanted to start reading that chapter for your class today, but you just had ‘so much other work’ and it was really not that important to read compared to all the other things you needed to do (of which you can’t quite remember the specifics).

Certainly this occurs frequently with most people and it is part of the day to day negotiation with the self that accounts for productivity in general. When this truly becomes an obstacle of a larger scope is when we apply it to the goals we actually want to complete.

We often discuss how we would like to improve ourselves and what our subsequent plans for such are. Examples are endless, but commonly you will hear, “oh I would like to go back and finish my degree,” or “yeah I’m going to start hitting the gym soon,” or especially “I’m going to start saving my money!” The problem with these atypical phrases is that we are completely sincere when we say them. However, it is unlikely that we have made any actual plans to complete these tasks. We think only of the end result and we remain dormant within inaction.

Another common set of problems is when we actually feign an attempt to complete our goals. Say we want to save a certain amount of money, we then write up a budget for ourselves and analyze our monthly costs to do such. However, we can fall prey to either frustration in the face of large planning (aka laziness), or we may even not be able to adapt if something changes from the initial budget (or, we might just be looking for an excuse to discard this whole budget anyways). In all these cases, we want to achieve our goals and we are taking steps towards doing them, but we are not actually doing them. Perhaps it’s the sincerity of our goals themselves, or perhaps it’s just general lethargy, but either way, nothing is actually being accomplished.

So what is the answer to actually accomplishing goals? You may want to cause me bodily harm for stating something so infantile so plainly, but the answer is simply just to do it. Do you want to go the gym? Then go. Don’t say it would be better on another day because you’re tired. Chances are you’ll probably be tired that day too. Want to save money? Follow your budget to the T. Don’t justify breaking your budget just so that you can go buy a plasma screen TV instead. It only makes sense that you would do all you can to achieve what you really desire. Otherwise, you might as well admit to yourself that you don’t want to achieve your goal as badly as you had first suspected. Be honest with yourself and separate your whimsical dreams with your real and concrete plans.

I suppose that is the real point here. Be able to draw a distinct line between, “I wish…” and “I will achieve…” and don’t allow yourself to confuse the two through vacillating logic and weak spirit.

With that said, I wonder if I might be able to follow my own advice?

Thanks for reading! ham



  1. I guess, I’ll be waiting for that follow-up post stating triumphantly that you have wondered enough and have, indeed, followed your own advice, after all.

    Tomorrow, maybe? 🙂

  2. Haha, oh I wish I were that motivated. It’s a gradual change in thought patterns I figure. I’ll attempt… but it might be a while before I start doing it automatically =P

  3. I truly wish I could add something to this without floundering in repetition. I’m quite masterful at self-deception, I do tend to look at images of myself so far beyond what is even achievable within the span of years. I want the results now, I don’t want to work towards them. I need to sit down and figure out long term goals and break them down into infinitesimally small portions, day-by-day, perhaps even to hours.

    But mostly do just need to do it, whatever that may be.

  4. You actually make a lot of good points. Did it take you long to think of how to put this into words? It seems like something everbody knows, but nobody is able to talk about, so you writing about it is something most people can relate to.

  5. Wow, I’ve followed the same philosophy all my life too!

    They say the hardest thing to do is to begin. ‘Just-do-it’ is the best way to begin anything. And by to begin it, I mean just jump into it and throw yourself upon the thing you wish to do. A simple ‘Just-do-it’ formula makes you accept the charge and destroys any chance of resistance too 😀

    I liked the way you interpreted our ‘logic’ behind our procastination habits. Like the bloke above me said, you do make a lot of good points :]

  6. Glycerine: Haha, actually I thought of this post while I was getting out of the shower. I basically just thought of the topic, then rambled a bit by thinking about it as honestly as I could.

    ilovemint: Thanks for your compliments. It means a lot coming from someone such as yourself. I really do believe that the “Just-Do-It” mantra is the most prudent to productivity, but it’s also the most difficult!

  7. Ahaa. Well it came out well. Keep it up.

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