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Day 12: The Law of Reversed Effort

Stop trying so hard. Relax a little. Let it go.

I just learned of the law of reversed effort, which is credited to Aldous Huxley. The gist is that when we put in a lot of effort, we are less likely to succeed.

Of course there's some nuance to this, but there are several skills and activities where this advice is applicable. Falling asleep is a great example.

Writing is something that I love doing and when it flows, it flows wonderfully. But there are days that I draw a complete blank while staring at an empty blog draft, blinking cursor staring back at me. Agonizing over what to write rarely leads me anywhere except to frustration.

It's times like these that letting go makes progress faster. If I let my mind wander, the ideas will naturally start coming. I've found that my favorite blog post ideas came to me while I was in the shower or drifting off to sleep. The key is jotting them down in the notes app on my phone when they pop up so I can recall them easily when I sit down to write. Pulling on these ideas when inspiration doesn't strike makes my daily challenge so much more manageable and fun.

I was drawing a blank today after spending the weekend out camping, then the past two days doing a bunch of life maintenance and errands around town. I haven't had time to sit and work at my desk for quite a while, so my writing momentum had slowed to a halt.

Instead of beating myself up mentally until an idea came, I started cleaning out my emails (specifically from the Pocket daily email) and skimming articles that I found interesting. That's how I came across the idea for today's post!

Putting myself into a relaxed state of pretty menial email cleanout opened up my subconscious for ideas to flow in. It's easy when an article I happened upon sparked the topic for my post, but even when it isn't that cut and dry, a wandering mind is the best source of ideas.

There are areas of our lives where effort is required to push through what we need to get done. If you're struggling to make progress on a project or succeed at a new skill though, it might be worth taking a step away from it. See if the separation gives your mind time to breathe.

Don't force it. You're capable of incredible things. Drop your effort by a few notches and watch the magic happen.

Happy adventuring,


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