The deeper I’ve gotten into the ideas of game and the processes of getting better as a man and the coaching of individuals to improve themselves (both readers and real-life acquaintances), the more I’ve mentally framed the entire enterprise as “avoiding mistakes” rather than “doing big things.”
You change your lifestyle so as to build habits. Habits that build value, or that simply make you feel better about yourself in a sustainable way. Health habits, dress habits, work habits, social habits. It takes a lot of up-front work, and they take some maintenance, but because they are habits, they more or less keep themselves going.
All of these habits build momentum; you feel good, you have value, and your life is going somewhere. What could go wrong? Well, there’s a lot of opportunities in life to screw up – to eat shitty food, to go into pointless debt, to get involved with the wrong woman or cheat on your quality wife, to miss out on good career opportunities. There’s no law of nature that says everything has to work out great in spite of you making bad decisions.
So in addition to good habits, you need a conscious awareness of opportunities for leveling up, or for knocking yourself back down. Expecting momentum to carry you through those is like expecting the girls to come to you when you are just sitting around “acting cool,” or that your “financial frame” is so strong that the government won’t care that you didn’t pay those taxes. There has to be an actuation where you strike and take advantage, or conversely you endeavor to avoid a stupid pitfall.
It’s easy to get neurotic thinking that every moment in life is a possible opportunity for major life changes. Generally speaking, that’s not the case. Great things can happen any day, but great things aren’t going to happen while you’re meditating, showering, frying your eggs or paying your bills. You’re just keeping the positive momentum going so you have the health, wealth and wisdom to be ready for the good opportunities.
There’s a phrase in sports that comes to mind: “luck is where preparation meets opportunity” (anyone who’s watched a lot of sports knows how good teams tend to get lucky at the right times).
So there’s a sort of dual strategy going on that forms the optimal (as I see it) scaffolding for success.
- Be unconsciously good by building good habits
- Consciously address decision points when called for
I like to visualize this strategy as taking a car trip. Once you’re on the road, things are OK – you’re moving forward and you’re going to get to your destination. The exit you are looking for is the one you’ll get off at, the ones before are just scenery. When your trip is ill-planned, however, every exit sign is an opportunity to get distracted from your goal. You have to stop for gas, for a snack, to go to the bathroom, to see some attraction that caught your eye. It’s hard to think about getting your momentum back.
When that happens, there’s one motto to keep in mind:
Stay on the road.
MOMENTUM AS MOTIVATION
A couple of items I’ve seen recently have dovetailed with the “stay on the road” message.
He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.
He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.
He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
(I intend to try this out soon; I’m very visual, so the visual continuity of the calendar chain is very attractive to me.)
Another piece I saw was Dagonet’s confessional post “Keep The Ship Sailing.”
When I go through long periods of stability, life is steady, stable, sure-handed and building momentum. It is a ship that is sailing forcefully– confidently– and heading toward virgin waters which hold treasures yet unknown.
In this sense, it’s an almost laughably-bad decision to give in to your baser urges, once you have your ship sailing steady. Being a better man, standing at the helm of your life’s ship, is worth more than can be measured. It’s an immensely valuable commodity.
Dagonet was speaking less about life planning and more about the emotional processes of dealing with one’s own personality flaws, but the point remains the same – trust in your momentum, it will lead you to success.
SIMPLIFYING THE PICKUP
One strong example of Staying On The Road I like to give to guys is that of a simple approach/pickup. On one end you have the Mystery Method style of highly specified, tightly regimented pickup logistics. On the other you have chumpadelic advice to “just talk to her like a normal person.” We know how the latter usually ends. But the Mystery Method is mentally exhausting to keep up with start to finish.
The solution I’ve been working to teach guys is to recognize the inflection points – the places where your behavior will most readily determine whether things succeed or fail. In those inflection points is where great game is forged.
Outside of these moments, you can just “drive” – you just have to be good enough to keep going. Carry the conversation forward, the exact ordering isn’t that important, just that you are talking comfortably with an interested woman. When you hit an inflection point, that’s where your game has to be seamlessly tight, and that’s where you have to stay on the road.
Once you’ve read some literature and been in the field (and probably had a few moments of success), you understand the major opportunities to “get off the road” and thus blow the opportunity with the girl:
- Failing a shit test (she asks you to buy her a drink or hold her purse, or challenges your wardrobe/drink choice/whatever)
- Chasing (pecking, or qualifying/bragging about yourself , or she says “I’m going to go back to my friends” and you follow uninvited)
- Failing to close (not pushing for a kiss or a bounce to a new location, or at least asking for her number)
Once you are aware of the typical pitfalls, you can put most of the discussion on cruise control. Your well-honed frame will communicate to her “this is an interesting, cool guy” without much specific and conscious action on your part. Where you really need to be aware and your game needs to be tight is when she tries to test you or when you get a window to escalate.
It won’t always happen – you’ll get blown out on approach sometimes, and sometimes women will make things easy for you and skip the testing or offer to take you home themselves – but you can expect it to happen and should be ready for it.
A similar phenomenon exists in employment. You don’t have to be a rock star in every single aspect of your day-to-day responsibilities to do well at work and get ahead – in fact, it’s counterproductive to spend your attention to detail on things that don’t require it. Thus, you want to make sure your basics get done without a lot of pomp and circumstance. File those reports every week, or prepare the briefing notes, or deliver the quarter pounders to the heating racks or whatever. If you just do good enough on that part, you’re already in the top 20%. Once you’ve got that covered, where the real opportunities come about is when there’s work to be done that is above and beyond the normal, or when a particularly difficult case comes by, or when the boss needs someone to do a special project under great trust or discretion. Because you have good habits, because you’ve been staying on the road, you’re in a great position to focus some extra conscious effort on the special opportunity.
(One thing that’s probably worth a later post is a discussion of “work game” and how much managers prize employees who do the following:
- Get things done on time reliably
- Imbue a sense of trust of the manager’s part that high-voltage tasks are going to get covered
- Solve more of the manager’s problems than they create
Part logical, part emotional – the upwardly-mobile employee has both.)
You can’t drive yourself crazy worrying about every little piece of everything in life. Such is the source of the Manosphere’s now-parodied “was this beta?” neuroticism. But you also need to know that momentum can’t do everything and you need to be ready to act on opportunities or to resist the wrong temptations into bad decision-making. Put those together and you’re way ahead of most people.
Stay on the road.