Jordan Peterson – How To Stop Procrastinating


The next best predictor of lifetime success is conscientiousness. Well so, and of the… Of the two aspects of conscientiousness, say, orderliness and industriousness, the better predictor is industriousness. So the question is “Well, what can you do about your industriousness?” And the answer to that, is… well, that’s kind of rough too, because there’s a strong genetic component, but… You CAN work on micro habits with regards to your conscientiousness, and I think the best micro habits (this is partly to do with these Future Authoring program processes), I think the best thing you can do with regards to your conscientiousness, is to… set up some aims for yourself. Goals, that you actually value. And the Future Authoring program helps people do that. And basically, it does a situational analysis of- It helps you do a situational analysis of your life, more than a psychological analysis, I would say. And so, the questions are something like, well: “Alright, you’re gonna have to put some effort into your life.

And you need to be motivated to do that.” And so, what are the potential sources of motivation? Well, you could think about them in the Big Five manner, you know, 1) if you’re extroverted, you want friends, 2) if you’re agreeable, you want an intimate relationship, 3) if you’re disagreeable, you want to win competitions, 4) if you’re open, you want to engage in creative activity, 5) if you’re high in neuroticism, you want security. Okay, so those are all sources of potential motivation, that you could draw on, that you could tailor to your own, you know, your own personality. But then there are dimensions, that you wanna consider your life across. And so, we asked people about, well… “You know, if you could have your life the way you wanted it, in 3 to 5 years, if you were taking care of yourself properly, you know: [Dr. Peterson lists the dimensions] 1) What would you want from your friendships? 2) What would you want from your intimate relationship? 3) How would you like to structure your family? 4) What do you want for your career? 5) How are you going to use your time outside of your job? And 6) How are you going to regulate your mental, physical- mental and physical health? And maybe also 7) Your drug and alcohol use.” Because that’s- that’s a good place to auger down.

You know, cause alcoholism for example, wipes out, you know, 5-10% of people. So, you wanna keep that under control. [stutter] And then- and then- so maybe, you know, you- you- You develop a vision, of what your life- what you would like your life to be, And that associates, the… So the goal, once the goal is established, and then you break down the goal into microprocesses, that you can implement, the microprocesses become rewarding, in proportion…

In relation to their, uh, causal association with the goal! And that tangles in your- your incentive reward system, you know. We talked about the “dopaminergic incentive reward system”, and that’s the thing that keeps you moving forward. And the way it works, is that it works better, if it produces positive emotion, when it can see you moving towards a valued goal. Okay well, what’s the implication of that? – Better have a valued goal! Because otherwise, you can’t get any positive motivation working out. And so, the more valuable the goal, in principle, the more the microprocesses associated with that goal, start to take on a positive charge. And so, what that means is, well… You get up in the morning, and you’re excited about the day, you’re ready to go.

And so, as far as I can tell, what you do is: you specify your long term ideal. Maybe you also specify a place you wanna stay the hell away from, so that you’re terrified to fail, as well as excited about succeeding, cause that’s also useful. You specify your goal. You do that, in some sense, as a unique individual. You wanna specify goals, that make you say: “Oh! If that could happen, as a consequence of my efforts, it would clearly be worthwhile!” Because, the question always is: Why do something? Cause doing nothing is easy.

You just sit there, and you don’t do anything. That’s real easy. The question is, why would you ever do anything? And the answer that has to be: Because you’ve determined, by some means, that it’s worthwhile! And then, the next question might be: Well, where should you look for worthwhile things? And one would be: Well, you could consult your own temperament! And the other would be: Well, you kind of look at how…

Look at what it is, that people accrue, that’s valuable, across the lifespan! [stutter] Look- look what- So, you do a structural analysis of the sub-components of human existence! And [we] already did that! You need a family, you need friends! Like, you don’t need to have all these things, but you better have most of them. Family, friends, career, educational goals, plans for, you know, time outside of work, attention to your mental and physical health, et cetera! You know, those are- that’s what life is about! And if you don’t have any of those things, well…

Then all you’ve got left, is misery and suffering! So that’s- that’s a bad… That’s a bad deal for you. So. So, but once you set up that goal structure, let’s say, and that’s really, in many ways, that’s what you should be doing at universities. That’s exactly what you should be doing – is trying to figure out: Who it is, that you’re trying to be? Right? And you aim at that. And then use everything you learn, as a means of building that person that you wanna be, and… I really mean “want to be!” I don’t mean “should be”, even those things- those things are gonna overlap. And it’s important to distinguish between those, because that’s partly (and this is back down to the micro-routine analysis), so, if I say- Well, you gonna try to make yourself more industrious, Okay, #1: Specify your damn goals. Cause how are you gonna hit something, if you don’t know what it is? That isn’t gonna happen! And often people won’t specify their goals too, cause they don’t like to specify conditions for failure.


So, if you keep yourself all vague and foggy, which is real easy, because that’s just a matter of not doing as well, then you don’t know when you fail! And people might say: “Well, I really don’t wanna know when I fail, because that’s painful! So I’ll keep myself blind, about when I fail!” That’s fine, except you’ll fail all the time then! Just won’t know it until you failed so badly, that you’re done. And that can easily happen by the time you’re 40. So, so… I would recommend that you don’t let that happen. So that’s willful blindness, right? You could have known! But you chose not to. Okay, so once you get your goal structure set up, you think: Okay, if I could have this life, looks like that might be worth living”. Despite the fact that it’s gonna be, you know, anxiety provoking and threatening, and there’s gonna be some suffering and loss involved, in all of that. Obviously. The goal is to have a vision for your life, such that – – all things considered, that justifies your effort. Okay, so then what do you do? Well, then – then you turn down to the micro-routine.

It’s like “Okay well, this is what I’m aiming for. How does that instantiate itself, day to day, week to week, month to month? And that’s where something like a schedule, can be unbelievably useful. Google Calendar. It’s like, make a damn schedule! And stick to it! Okay, so what’s the rule with the schedule? It’s not a bloody prison! That’s the first thing, that people do wrong! It’s like “Well I don’t like to follow a schedule”. It’s like: “Well, what kind of schedule are you setting up?” “Well, I sh- I have to do this, then I have to do this, then I have to do this.

You know, and then I just go play video games, because who wants to do all these things, that I have to do?” It’s like, WRONG! Set the damn schedule up. So that you have the day you want! That’s the trick! It’s like “Okay, I’ve got tomorrow, if I was gonna set it up, so it’s the best possible day I could have, practically speaking, what would it look like?” Well, then you schedule that! And obviously, there’s a bit of responsibility that’s gonna go along with that, because if you have any sense, one of the things that you’re gonna insist upon, is that at the end of the day, you’re not in worse shape than you were at the beginning of the day, right? Cause that’s a stupid day! If you have a bunch of those in a row, you just dig, you know, you dig yourself a hole, and then you bury yourself in it! In it’s like – sorry, that’s just not a good strategy.

It’s a bad strategy. So, maybe 20% of your day has to be responsibility and obligation. Or maybe it’s more than that, depending on how far behind you are. But even that, you can ask yourself: “Okay well, I’ve got these responsibilities, I have to schedule the damn things in, what’s the right ratio of responsibility to reward?” And you can ask yourself that, just like you’d negotiate with someone, who is working for you. It’s like – okay, you gotta work tomorrow. Okay, so “I want you to work tomorrow”. And you might say: “Okay well, what are you gonna do for me, that makes it likely, that I’ll work for you?” Well, you could ask yourself that, you know. Maybe you do an hour of responsibility, and then you play a video game for 15 minutes. I don’t know, whatever turns your crank, man. But you know, you have to negotiate with yourself, and not tyrannize yourself! Like you’re negotiating with someone that you care for, that you would like to be productive and have a good life! And and that’s how you make the schedule, it’s like …

And then you look at the day, and you think: “Well if I had that day, that’d be good”. Great! You know, and you’re useless and horrible, so you’ll probably only hit it with about 70% accuracy. But that beats the hell out of zero! Right? And if you hit it even with 50% accuracy, another rule is: Well, aim for 51% the next week, or 50.5%, for God’s sake, or… Because you’re gonna hit that position, where things start to loop back positively, and spiral you upward! And so… So that’s one way, that you can work on your conscientious. Plan of life, you’d like to have! And- and you do that partly by referring to social norms, that’s more or less rescuing your father from the belly of the whale, but the other way you do that, is by having a little conversation with yourself, about…

As if you don’t really know who you are. Because you know what you’re like, you won’t do what you’re told. You won’t do, what you tell yourself to do. You must have noticed THAT! It’s like, you’re a bad employee, and a worse boss. And both of those work… you know, for you. You don’t know what you wanna do, and then when you tell yourself what to do, you don’t do it anyways. You should fire yourself, and find someone else to be, but… But, you know, my point is, is that you have to understand, that you’re not your own servant, so to speak. You’re someone that you have to negotiate with, and that’s, and y- You’re someone, that you want to present the opportunity of having a good life to! And that’s hard for people, cause they don’t like themselves very much! So you know, they’re always like cracking the whip and then procrastinating, and cracking the whip, and then procrastinating. And it’s like – God, it’s so boring, and such a pathetic way of spending your time. And you know what that’s like, cause you probably waste like 6 hours a day. And I think, we did an economic calculation about that a while back, right? Your time is probably worth 50 bucks an hour.

Something like that. I mean, you’re not getting paid that now, but you’re young, and so this is investment time, and what you do now, is going to multiply its effects in the future. So… so let’s say it’s $50 an hour, which is perfectly reasonable. So if you waste 6 hours a day, and you are, Then you’re wasting about $2,000 a week, or about $100,000 a year. So like, go ahead! But that’s what it’s costing you, every hour. And you need to know, what your damn time is worth. So, let’s say it’s not 50 bucks, it’s 30. Whatever, maybe it’s a $100. It’s somewhere in that range. One of the things you should be asking yourself is, when you spend an hour, was that “Well, would’ve I paid someone 50 bucks, to have had that hour?” And if the answer is “no”, it’s like: Well, maybe you should do something else with your time. And it depends on whether or not you think that your time is worth while.

But the funny thing about not assuming that, is if you assume your time isn’t worthwhile, what happens, is you don’t just sit around sorta randomly, in a state of responsibility-less bliss. What you do, is you suffer existentially. And so… that seems like a stupid solution..

As found on Youtube