3 Biases Blocking Your Way To Success (Pt. 2)

Mistakes we make en route to our dreams

When I first started writing in 2014, I may have had overcome some of the biases that keep us in our status quo bubble, but fell right into the next set.

That’s why, for part two of our bias series (see part one here), we’ll look at 3 common mental traps that send us down the wrong path when going for our dreams.

These biases make us choose actions that don’t lead to our goals.

1. Parkinson’s Law of Triviality

You may have heard of Parkinson’s Law, which suggests that “work expands to fill the time available for it.” But that same Parkinson coined another, maybe even more important law: The Law of Triviality.

It says that we spend disproportionate amounts of time on trivial issues to avoid the cognitive discomfort of solving complex, important problems

When you start a blog, all you need to do is write. That’s the important part. But, and I was so guilty of this, designing the logo, changing the website, and setting up social media feels so much more important and rewarding. So you do that instead.

The Law of Triviality is devious because it fools us into thinking we’re working towards our goals when, actually, we’re just doing busywork with no progress.

2. Survivorship Bias

When I finally did write for my blog, I tried to write exactly like James Altucher. After all, James was someone I admired and had a really successful blog. Sadly, that’s not how it works.

Maybe, James just had great timing. Maybe, many people wrote like him, but their blogs didn’t survive for some other reason. Maybe, it’s not his style, but his ideas that James is famous for.

There are a million reasons why things succeed or fail and it’s impossible to pull them apart. Therefore, copying what’s worked in the past is often useless. But that’s what we do when we succumb to survivorship bias.

We imitate others hoping for guaranteed success - but that never existed anywhere.

3. The Sunk Cost Fallacy

Accepting that we need to do the scary work that makes us vulnerable and that there’s no template for doing it is terrifying. So guess what? We procrastinate on it!

Psychologists have this idea of escalation of commitment, more commonly referred to as the sunk cost fallacy. It means that we continue to commit to a path of action even after we’ve learned it’s not the best one, just so we can appear consistent. As a result, we waste a lot of time on things that have no chance of working out.

When the ship is sinking, jump ship! It doesn’t matter whether you caused it to. As soon as we find out what we do doesn’t work, we must abandon it and try anew.

The Law of Triviality, survivorship bias, sunk cost. Don’t waste time on irrelevant things. Don’t copy others. Don’t be afraid to let go of what fails.

Pick your battles. Fight the good fights. And then continue to get up until you win.

-Nik


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