This is not a Party Quest

When I was a teenager I always wanted to do more with my life than sit inside and play video games and watch TV, I liked the Idea of venturing out into the world and trying something new, learning a new skill. But there was one thing that always kept me from doing anything. I always felt like I needed SOMEBODY ELSE to do it with me. I felt like I needed a partner. “What’s even the point of doing it if its just myself”. I couldn’t ever really convince anyone else to be my partner, so instead I just stayed inside, and did nothing.

As an adult when I started my “self improvement journey” lots of the books I read suggested that getting somebody to “do it with me” was a good idea. In particular I can recall Tim Ferriss’ advice of social comparison theory. The idea is if you can do something hard with a group of people, when they make progress, it can inspire you to work harder, and when you do better than one of your peers it makes you feel better about your accomplishment. “if Josh can lose 5 pounds so can I!, Jesse only lost 2 pounds and I lost 3, guess I’m doing pretty good after all”. It sounds great in theory, but there are hidden dangers.

If you’re an author of a #1 best selling self help book, there’s a chance that your peers, and the peers of your case studies, have very solid friend groups. If you’ve ever read Tim Ferris’ 4 hour body ( I highly recommend you do). You’ll see a pattern of people who are actually really high achievers in other fields, but for some reason have slacked in one specific area, body design. NASA Engineers, top level computer scientists, High earning CEOs and entrepreneurs. Chances are if they partied up with their friends it would have the desired affect of increased motivation and accountability. But we’re not currently high achievers, we’re gamers.

I said earlier that grouping up in this quest may be a bad idea and have hidden dangers, I’ve talked about the benefits now lets hear what can go wrong. Every program and regimen I’ve decided to start with my friends, boyfriend, family etc. I’ve ended up falling short or throwing in the towel. Why? The party: becomes an excuse.

If it is at all likely that your party mates will give up, they become an alibi, a reason to explain to yourself why you quit. Your buddy doesn’t want to come to the gym this morning because he stayed up late helping his mom move? Yeah that’s a good reason, who could honestly be mad at him about that? But now you missed a day because you decided to dip so you guys can still lift the same weight. All of a sudden you’ve broken your streak. You experience how nice it is to take a break from working hard. The next day rolls around and neither of you talk about what happened and just let the next day pass without a word, you don’t go again. All of a sudden you’ve given up because of something your PARTNER did. It wasn’t his fault, he had a legitimate reason, it was the fault of the party. Instead of coming together and being stronger, you conspired together to be each others excuse. If it wasn’t going to be him, he thought eventually it would be you, and you’d both have a reason to tell yourself at night to not totally hate yourself for giving up.

Gamers have gamer friends. There’s nothing wrong with gaming, but gamers are not demographically the most disciplined and effective people. I’m not telling you to abandon your friends, cut them loose, or get rid of them. That MAY be necessary but not for this reason alone. But do NOT rely on them for companionship in this journey. This is about learning how to do the hard things that you know you need to be doing, learn how to do it alone.

“But I want to help them! If I group up with them it will be easier for them too!”

I get the sentiment, lots of us love playing the healer/tank/support archetype. What’s the point of achieving something if you can’t bring your friends up with you, you don’t want to be lonely at the top. However, if you really want to help them, show them the program, but DON’T do it with them. I already said it but I’ll repeat it: this is about learning how to do the things you know you need to do even if they’re hard. If you or your friend can only stick with this when you’re together, you’re missing the point. Lead by example. Learn how to do the hard thing, and keep doing it long enough for them to notice. When they ask, tell them exactly how you did it, that’s how you can help them.

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