The Support Page

It’s one of those things I probably should have done around a decade ago, but last week I put up a “support” page. As I don’t run any ads and the vast majority of my writing is unmonetized, this site is largely a labor of love (and I’m happy with that).

But…

I also talk to enough folks who want to support my efforts that it’s silly for me to make that challenging.

So while the page does include a way to directly send me money, it’s mostly a collection of the active affiliate arrangements I have, which are easy ways to get someone else (Amazon, educational products, physician survey companies, etc) to provide me with financial support at no cost to you if/when such things meet your needs (and usually with a reader discount).

Also, please feel free to ignore it entirely.

Regardless, I will continue to accept virtual high fives, which remain my primary currency.

Productive Procrastination

From Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life:

I discovered that living the life we want requires not only doing the right things; it also requires we stop doing the wrong things that take us off track.

If distraction costs us time, then time management is pain management.

That’s a catchy line.

Being okay in your skin, being okay within your own mind is part of it. We reach for the phone because it’s easier.

There’s a lot of navel-gazing writing about how you should just stand in the grocery line and be mindful: to find space in that brief time to just be.

And that sounds so nice.

But…I also start a lot of drafts in those in-between moments. I haven’t conquered being alone with my thoughts, and maybe I never will. But at least I’ve practiced sublimating them into something I consider meaningful.

If you’ve ever chewed over something in your mind that you did, or that someone did to you, or over something that you don’t have but wanted, over and over again, seemingly unable to stop thinking about it, you’ve experienced what psychologists call rumination. This “passive comparison of one’s current situation with some unachieved standard” can manifest in self-critical thoughts such as, “Why can’t I handle things better?”

But there’s the rub.

I’m not sure it’s really possible to avoid the rumination and bad habit loops without dealing with that pain management directly. I see a lot of workaholics that are good at doing things but not so good at just being alive, and perhaps our work-focused, over-scheduled, and outcome/comparison-focused society is at least partially to blame.

Certainly, the resume-fluffing requirements we place on students for competitive colleges, graduate schools, and jobs like medical residencies are teaching those lessons early enough at young enough ages that we’re likely still susceptible to making them part of our personalities.

The Basis for No

In Essentialism, Greg McKeown writes:

Many capable people are kept from getting to the next level of contribution because they can’t let go of the belief that everything is important.

We’re in the middle of residency interview season, but for many students, the CV-padding season started in high school and never ended. We have a “meritocratic” system where people are rewarded for doing things and accumulating line-items.

I’ve had a lot of meaningful hobbies in my life, but most of the things I’ve done for other people were useless for my development and for the world. While you have to do enough to figure out what you like and what you could become good at, we could all move the needle more by saying no to more “opportunities” (if only getting to the next stage of the process didn’t require so much box-checking).

Time is finite, so every “yes” for something you don’t care about is a “no” to the things you do.

And that applies to the types of productive procrastination we often employ (like me writing this brief post instead of doing the harder work of finishing the draft of my next book). The discipline to focus on the impactful and meaningful 20% from the 80/20 rule is hard.

1980 or 2020?

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Isaac Asimov, in his 1980 essay, “A Cult of Ignorance.”

Scarcity is a superpower

Morgan Housel, author of the excellent The Psychology of Moneywriting “a few rules“:

Being good at something doesn’t promise rewards. It doesn’t even promise a compliment. What’s rewarded in the world is scarcity, so what matters is what you can do that other people are bad at.

A corollary: Being good at doing (or even just willing to do) what other people don’t want to do can take you far.