Desire for Behavior Change as Desire for Value Change?

The New Year has come and gone, and I'm sure people have had their resolutions either continue or fail. I don't think I've explored this view here on Muse, although I think MLU on wordpress had some stuff in this vein, so let me try to put it into words here:

If you want to do X, and you're not currently doing X, there are several things which could be happening:

  1. You keep forgetting to do X, and you just need the right cue at the right time.
  2. You don't want to do X. Even if something / someone reminded you, you wouldn't do it.

1 is an easy problem. It's what basically all habit / task management apps do. You write down the things you want to do, which makes it easier for you to remind them. You can even set timers and things to remind you.

But if 2 is what's going on, I think it's possibly a question of, not just wanting to do X, but wanting to be the sort of person who does X. After all, you're not currently doing X.

If I don't find myself doing math, and I also don't like it, it seems like I might want to be the sort of person who likes doing math, which has the downstream effect of my doing lots of math. It would be a little strange if I both did more math, and my attitude towards it didn't change.

I realize it's presumptuous to tell people that when their desire to do something (that they're currently not) is indicative, in some psychoanalytical way, about what sort of person they're trying to become. But it also seems to fall out of the above rather naturally. So I'd at least recommend people consider the possibility.

In terms of actionables, this means that when I catch myself wishing I was doing a thing I'm not, I check to see if:

  1. I'm being properly rewarded by my environment / self.
  2. If I want to do the thing.
  3. If I want to become the sort of person who wants to do the thing.
    1. If not, maybe I can become a different sort of person.
    2. Or maybe I don't want to do the thing.
    3. Sometimes I want to do the thing, and I don't want to change.
    4. Humans are sometimes contradictory.

Last Updated: 2020-02-16 20:51
First Published: 2020-02-16 20:51