Forcing Functions

I’m glad I committed to write weekly on this blog. During the week, I don’t think about it much, if at all. I might ask myself whether some experience or thought I’ve had is worth blogging about, but that’s the extent of it. When the weekend comes, though, the knowledge of my commitment drives me to write something, anything to keep the commitment.

This is a “forcing function.” It’s a constraint I’ve put in place that compels me to act in a certain way. I’ve also committed to being positive on this blog. That forces me to filter my activities and thoughts during the week through a lens of positivity. This is useful because it’s easy to fall into a pattern of negativity when I’m surrounded by it in the news and on the Internet.

In journaling this morning, I thought more about forcing functions. What other forcing functions could I introduce in my life? I don’t think they need to be huge. I’ve noticed, for example, that there are things I avoid doing at work because they would be forcing functions that might drive me in ways I don’t want to go, or steal away some of my “freedom.”

For example, at work, I try to avoid saying what I’m going to do. Instead, I do it, and report it later. This is a way to avoid committing to something I’ll later be held accountable to deliver. It seemed like a good idea when I developed this habit, and it may have merit in some situations. But I think it has downsides, too.

Stating my intent to do something is like making a little promise. And because I value my status amongst my peers, that little promise becomes a forcing function that drives me to action. Add to that a deadline and it will drive me to deliver faster. It doesn’t have to be a big bold statement. A simple statement like, “Let me take a look at that and get back to you later today,” is enough to do the trick.

This is a habit that can be tremendously useful in helping me achieve my goals. I don’t need to state my intent about everything I’m planning to do. If I save those statements for actions that will push me in the direction of goals, then they will have the advantage of compelling me to move in the direction I want to go.

That’ll be a focus for me in the weeks ahead at work, and maybe even outside work, too. Making this statement here is a perfect example. Having made it, I’ve made a commitment, and I already feel compelled to act on it. Here’s hoping it pays off…

Forcing Functions

Positivity

Yesterday, I wrote a post about meme stocks (a post I’ve since deleted). That was my post for the week. Yesterday was Saturday, and I had a really good day. Early in the day, I posted to Facebook about my aspirations for my future and I received a lot of positive and encouraging feedback. As I went to bed in the evening and thought back on the day, I realized that the one blemish on my otherwise positive day was my own post.

And so, I decided to delete it. It was negative and it came from a place of complaint. It was preachy and sought to place blame on a single group for something truly complex. It may have been right. It may have been wrong. Regardless, it’s just not what I want to produce and add to the world.

There is enough negativity. Last year was filled with it. And I don’t need to contribute to it. That doesn’t mean I don’t experience bad things in life. And it doesn’t mean I’m universally positive. In fact, positivity isn’t my default state. But I’m trying to change. I’m trying to help people. And I think I can do more good by being positive than I can by being negative.

In fact, that’s something I’ve seen over the last couple of days. Yesterday, my positive post on Facebook attracted more response than any post I’ve had in recent memory. Many of the respondents were people I haven’t heard from in years. Positivity attracts people, and it attracts more positivity.

Yes, there is enough negativity in the world already. Life is filled with hardships. Positivity won’t necessarily get rid of all of those hardships, but it won’t add to them, and it will help alleviate some of them. I would much rather help people overcome hardships than add to them.

We have an opportunity to help each other in life. We all will struggle from time to time. How great would it be to have friends who encourage us, lift us, and help us through those struggles? That’s the kind of positivity I want to bring to life. And it’s the kind of positivity I want here.

Positivity