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Finger-snap your way to nirvana
March 6, 2014 10:14 AM   Subscribe

“Maybe stop trying so hard to find shortcuts to “hack” your life. The best things are hard. Invest in the journey. Just sayin’.”
posted by divabat (53 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
"All you have to do is commit your entire life to something, which will result in one of two outcomes. Either you will succeed, or you will die trying, which is in and of itself it’s own form of success."

Oh, man, I am excited, bro. I am pumped. I am so in. This is it. This is going to be the moment.

Now as I'm toiling in obscurity and failing relentlessly and picking myself up off the floor and really going the extra mile for my own benefit, all in single-minded pursuit of my goal, I just have one question: where can I pick up the check? Because this totally noble, difficult journey without any shortcuts and zero compromise seems to be taking up a lot of my time.

Seriously, though, this is so much posturing I feel like I feel like I'm wasting an opportunity for some life-drawing. I'm not totally on-board with the whole lifehack-culture-whatever where you spend all your time minimizing and optimizing and end up not doing much of anything at all, but this reads a whole lot like someone dressed up Protestant Work Ethic in running shoes an Oakleys and called it a day.
posted by griphus at 10:27 AM on March 6 [46 favorites]


I based on thr title I was hoping this was going to be a diatribe against the term hack when the hacks are often times common sense.

I'm more like this guy.
posted by birdherder at 10:31 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


I both agree and disagree. There are things that are just going to take an awful long time, and if you aren't prepared to enjoy the process, you probably won't do it for very long.

But I see "hack" used a variety of ways, and only one of the definitions is "shortcut." Instead, a lot of hacking seems to be about understanding how things work. It's not about getting rid of inefficiency for the sake of saving time, but instead figuring out what works instead of what doesn't work, or what doesn't work well.

For instance, a lot of lifehacks about weight loss aren't about losing weight quickly, but instead about how to keep yourself motivated when you're in a plateau, how to revisit what and how you eat so that you aren't accidentally sabotaging yourself, how the math of calories work, etc.

In other words, this sort of hacking isn't about doing things as quickly and poorly as possible, but instead understanding precisely how things work in order to be successful when you attempt them.

And, honestly, some things can be shortcuts and nobody will mind. Maybe there is no shortcut to running a marathon, but hotkeys are a sort of early hack, and if I had to go in and bold things and italicize and whatnot by dorking around with my cursor instead of just punching a few keys, my experience of writing would not be improved.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:32 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


But... if I tried very hard to hack my life... those best things you're referring to were still very hard. Apparently I distributed my effort in a way you disliked?
posted by LogicalDash at 10:35 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


I don't know what you're supposed to do, by his standards, about all those things in your life that you have no interest in giving 100% to but have to do anyway. Managing work email, one of the perennial subjects of these life-hack sites, is nobody's passion, but that doesn't mean you can just not do it.
posted by Sequence at 10:36 AM on March 6 [8 favorites]


OK, yeah, I RTFA, and this is the lede:

But somewhere along the line I think even Tim would agree that we lost the thread. Somewhere along the line the hack has become the destination, rather than the tool. An end in and of itself. Kind of like becoming obsessed with a table saw rather than the process of using it to learn how to make a beautiful piece of furniture.

Fair lot of scrolling for that
posted by LogicalDash at 10:38 AM on March 6 [6 favorites]


I'm not totally on-board with the whole lifehack-culture-whatever where you spend all your time minimizing and optimizing and end up not doing much of anything at all, but this reads a whole lot like someone dressed up Protestant Work Ethic in running shoes an Oakleys and called it a day.

Likewise. This made like lifehacking better. He seems to love toil for its own sake, and likes to "emotionally detach from the end result or third party reception". I can see not wanting to listen to the legions of haters out there, but there is no glory, nor satisfaction for me, for "working hard", just for the damn bolder to roll down the hill at the end of the day.

Also, the man has a habit of seeing his own value system as universals:

Deep down we all know it to be true.

Because every genuine, sustainable success is birthed only from incredible persistence, interminable patience, invisble defeats, rabid didcation, and unrelenting passion.

objective truth

I reject that being really really dedicated is the only way for success. There is enough caused by dumb luck, sheer brilliance, and other happenstance to think that working hard is a mandatory prerequisite for it.
posted by zabuni at 10:39 AM on March 6 [14 favorites]


I have given myself 100% to my lifehack for sitting in chairs. And I am both the best things in life and very, very hard. Just sayin'.
posted by The Riker Who Mounts the World at 10:40 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


It sounds like he's basically advocating "work harder, not smarter."

Hacks are useful in the lifelong pursuit of one's passion, and also for doing the dumb things we gotta do. ("Touch the puppet head...")
posted by Foosnark at 10:42 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


That was incredibly long for no reason. Anyway, I don't think the author understands that lifehacking is about both figuring out how things work (awesome) and saving time (awesome). Nobody worth a damn is going to lifehack writing a novel.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:42 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Medium.com has a very distinctive website. I'm learning to associate it with nice stock photography and trivial amounts of content.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:43 AM on March 6 [24 favorites]


this reads a whole lot like someone dressed up Protestant Work Ethic in running shoes an Oakleys and called it a day

Ding ding ding ding winner!
posted by en forme de poire at 10:47 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


Okay Tim Ferriss fanboys, calm yourselves before you attack me. I actually love Tim’s books.

That's when I stopped skimming. More Medium dreck.
posted by shivohum at 10:49 AM on March 6 [6 favorites]


Ben Stiller needs desperately to play him in the movie.

He already is the voice in which I heard this whole thing. (As much of it as I read.)
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:59 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


Kind of like becoming obsessed with a table saw rather than the process of using it to learn how to make a beautiful piece of furniture.

This describes nearly every "hobbyist" on the internet. Musicians. Photographers. Gamers. It's not about what a tool does, but about the tool itself being somehow special.

Not that I'm advocating "hard work" for its own sake, which is a fucking mug's game, but that sentiment isn't about being anti-lifehack. It's anti-talisman, whether the talisman is a 1957 Les Paul Goldtop or "how to fold a fitted sheet."

Then again, he starts going off on how great he is for trying so goddamn hard, which is pure ick. This is not a man with whom I would like to converse. Or, I suppose, be talked at by. Lighten up, Francis.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:00 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


turns out
posted by entropicamericana at 11:02 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Get off my jock, Professor X-Games. All I want is a decent method for folding a fitted sheet.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:06 AM on March 6 [16 favorites]


The mantra of "it's not the destination, it's the journey" may have some utility for people still figuring themselves out, or kind of lost in life, but it's Hallmark schmaltz for everyone else. Adults who know what they want don't need to the take the detour there.

Is it? The entire ideal of the American Dream (which is problematic in its own right and basically an illusion, but that’s the subject of another blog post) was founded upon the aforementioned principles. Anything is possible if you work hard.

This was never the American dream; the American dream was always about being smart. You can crtique it from the Left and either say that's not actually true, or that it is true but really means predatory, but no one has ever said dig ditches really hard and one day you'll have your own jetpack.

All you have to do is commit your entire life to something, which will result in one of two outcomes. Either you will succeed, or you will die trying, which is in and of itself it’s own form of success.

Wow, this is the stupidest advice I have ever heard. "I wasted my life, but at least I failed!" This sounds like a gym teacher expression generator.

Rich Roll is world renown ultra-distance triathlete, wellness advocate,

You don't say.
posted by spaltavian at 11:09 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Nobody worth a damn is going to lifehack writing a novel.

Happens all the time in serial fiction
posted by LogicalDash at 11:09 AM on March 6


Wait, there really is a "wellness advocate" named Rich Roll? This isn't a parody?
posted by neroli at 11:11 AM on March 6


His advice is mostly about never giving up.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:13 AM on March 6 [9 favorites]


He should give up.
posted by The Riker Who Mounts the World at 11:13 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Also: Is there a lifehack for removing the phrase "Just sayin'" from the vernacular?
posted by The Riker Who Mounts the World at 11:14 AM on March 6 [6 favorites]


Stop trying to hack my life? Now that is one weird trick.
posted by orme at 11:16 AM on March 6


Stop trying to hack my life

Hackey sacked
posted by The Riker Who Mounts the World at 11:18 AM on March 6


"Someone once asked [motion study pioneer Frank Gilbreth]: 'But what do you want to save time for? What are you going to do with it?'

'For work, if you love that best,' said Dad. 'For education, for beauty, for art, for pleasure.' He looked over the top of his pince-nez. 'For mumblety-peg, if that's where your heart lies.'"
posted by mayhap at 11:22 AM on March 6 [7 favorites]


Most "life hacks" are innovative ways to organize things, which is always good.

Or are the wasted hours spent searching for what I want in a jumbled pile of unsorted junk part of the "journey"?
posted by rocket88 at 11:25 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Medium.com has a very distinctive website. I'm learning to associate it with nice stock photography and trivial amounts of content.

More Medium dreck.


Seriously: it's been really funny to see the self-proclaimed "Twitter for long-form" turn into a crowdsourced repository for motivational self-help bullshit, techno-utopian libertarian cheerleading, and uncopyedited remedial-comp personal essays that read like the "reject" pile from third-tier business school applications. It's almost like editors actually existed for a reason, and writing well wasn't actually the same skill as designing pretty CSS!
posted by RogerB at 11:29 AM on March 6 [14 favorites]


So... be authentic, not a jerk constantly looking to game the system? Okey-dokey.

Most "life hacks" are innovative ways to organize things, which is always good.

Most life hacks I've seen are nerd-brags about purported solutions to niche first-world annoyances, are are therefore intrinsically annoying themselves (to me).
posted by aught at 11:33 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, I love the author's name, too.
posted by aught at 11:34 AM on March 6


He might be right but he sure as hell undermines himself when his website is all full of anti-aging superfood foo badvertsising.
posted by srboisvert at 11:40 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


All I want is a decent method for folding a fitted sheet.

First, you must free yourself from your attachment to saving time. There is no time.
Second, you must free yourself from your attachment to perfection. There is no perfection.
Then, you must free yourself from your attachment to order. There is no order.

Finally, you must wad the fitted sheet up in a ball in the closet, and not give a shit when
it is a bit creased when you put it on the bed because you're going to sleep on it and cover it with a comforter for god's sake.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:45 AM on March 6 [24 favorites]


LOOK, I SAID I'M SORRY OKAY
posted by ntk at 11:48 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


I don't even disagree with the basic idea that putting in hours is important, but I still think this is just posturing. Just moving to another athletic discipline, you can see that execution can matter hugely: if you squat twice a day with shitty form, you're not going to get the gains in strength you'd get if you squat a few times a week with good form. Likewise, if you want to learn math, you can read the textbook for hours a day and it's not going to do a tenth of what skimming a chapter and then solving five short problems would. There was also that study about competitive figure skaters - I can't find the link and could be misremembering at this point, but my impression was that the top tier didn't seem to practice more hours than the middle tier but rather more difficult, technical material like jumps. And there are even smaller things that really do appear to be disproportionately helpful: spend any time on AskMe and you will hear people swearing by using a kitchen timer (often shaped like a tomato) to help defeat procrastination, or using something like The Now Habit's Unschedule, which is after all just a piece of paper that you write stuff on.

Anyway, I agree that a lot of the culture around "life hacks! eleventy" is silly and grandiose, but uh, tu quoque, pal.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:07 PM on March 6


Never gonna let you down.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:19 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


So much depends on the actual definitions of terms, I'd say. *yawn*
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:28 PM on March 6


In case anybody kept reading past the bit about loving Tim Ferriss books:

And have nothing but mad respect for everything Tim is about — an idea-generating energizer bunny of a forward-thinking innovator tirelessly upending tradition and plumbing the deep crevasse for creative, new modalities and approaches to do more and live better.

Can't remember the last time I tl;dr'ed a single fucking sentence. I think I might have given myself narcolepsy just from trying to read it, which is probably more than I otherwise might have accomplished today, so woohoo!

The author's blurb at the bottom of the page:

Rich Roll is world renown ultra-distance triathlete, wellness advocate, host of the wildly popular Rich Roll Podcast & #1 bestselling author of Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men & Discovering Himself. You can read his musings and listen to his conversations at richroll.com.

Yeah I could read his musings I suppose or else I could just KILL MYSELF RIGHT NOW, decisions, decisions....

I feel like the last time I read something that annoyed me this much, that was written by some amazingly, astoundingly, mindblowingly, superlatively, fantastically self-made, self-promoting and self-obsessed ... person... it was also on Medium. Perhaps I'm not their target audience.
posted by hap_hazard at 12:46 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


All you have to do is commit your entire life to something

Cut down the time you waste on hundreds of insignificant hacks with this one simple trick!

I wonder if this is really the article even an ADD-addled hack-obsessed world needs.

It seems to me that everybody is either searching for or has adopted some kind of "code" of behavior that will work within a narrative about how they're going to live a good life. In the article we've got two: knowing lots of tips to get the most out of your time and other resources, and being totally dedicated to something important to you.

Others might be: reaching for all the finer things in life, avoiding the distraction of the brass ring, being a good JudeoChristaMusloFarianist, avoiding all that religious BS, going paleo, going vegan, not obsessing too much about food or body image, being fashionable and polished and presentable and poised, letting people love you for who you are. Reading widely and studying intensely so you're not forming opinions and making decisions out of ignorance. Going with your gut, making educated guesses, and trying things so you can actually get some real-life experience and results instead of wasting time with ivory-tower theories. Or not overthinking all this stuff and just living a down home hardworking honest life. Or thinking about this carefully enough to understand the promises and pitfalls of this kind of thinking.

I don't bring this up because I think people need to transcend it. I suspect you can't get around doing it, it seems to be part of being human. There may be some rare Zen souls who don't borrow from the present to feed the forethought of future rewards (and yet manage their affairs so as not to borrow the present from the future either), but I suspect when most people come close, they're quickly knocked off that path by perceiving and consciously participating in that narrative. And the only other people I can think of that don't do this are those who are suffering from depression.

What I think is better for people to understand (after perhaps first understanding that despite any code some big portion of your life will simply be given rather than planned) is that there are limits and yields from most of these codes. Some may have more yields than limits. Sometimes, you can get more even more yields by coming to understand a code that's different from yours. Or coming to understand what one that looked different had in common with yours.

So back at the article, we have the code of the hack ("work smarter, not harder") and the code of the anti-hack ("all you have to do is commit your entire life to something"). And, to some extent, the code of the destination and the code of the journey. They're set up in opposition, as codes often are.

But I think at a closer look, the dichotomy is false. It's predicated on comparison of the limits of one code and the yields of the other. That may not be entirely inappropriate for an audience fixed on the yields of the hack and the limits of dedication. But perhaps looking more closely at a full expression of either code could be more illuminating -- because it seems to me a full expression either code seems to yield the other.

Wouldn't working truly smart include working hard *enough* on the things that matter and are worth prioritization and commitment?

Would total dedication really simply be raw will and effort? Wouldn't it instead *demand* a mastery of any knowledge and technique that would help realize the possible?

Do journeys and destinations really exist without one another?
posted by weston at 12:53 PM on March 6 [4 favorites]


Medium.com has a very distinctive website. I'm learning to associate it with nice stock photography and trivial amounts of content.

That's why it's called Medium. "That piece any good?" "Ah, it was medium."

And I might have something else semi-intelligent to say if I wasn't so delighted by the idea of a guy named Rich—Can I call you "Rick"—Roll writing motivational prose.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:03 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Adding "Just saying’" to the end of whatever is a good way for it to instantly sound 20% more dickish. Just saying.
posted by Kwine at 1:05 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


Now that 'wellness' has joined 'mindfulness' as a sure-fire indicator of trustfund douchebaggery on the internet, I think it's about time I started keeping an actual list.
posted by genghis at 1:19 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


He really destroyed that straw man. Through dedication.
posted by salvia at 1:23 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


Here's a life hack. First become known for something so that people will listen to you so that they can achieve what you did. Then tell them that it took dedication and hard work for a long time.
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:08 PM on March 6


" an idea-generating energizer bunny of a forward-thinking innovator tirelessly upending tradition and plumbing the deep crevasse for creative, new modalities and approaches to do more and live better."

That's an awful lot of bullshit in one sentence, my head damn near asploded just reading it. Rich Roll is not a man to be taken seriously about anything.
posted by MikeMc at 2:40 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


That reads like it was written by an algorithm designed to shuffle cliches.
posted by Maias at 2:53 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


plumbing the deep crevasse

I think he means that he scratches his ass a lot.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:02 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Now that 'wellness' has joined 'mindfulness' as a sure-fire indicator of trustfund douchebaggery on the internet, I think it's about time I started keeping an actual list.

It's really too bad - mindfulness meditation can be a powerful and legitimately helpful activity and it would be profoundly shitty if the word were co-opted by the type of person who wrote this article (or Tim Ferriss, the other side of the douchecoin).
posted by en forme de poire at 3:47 PM on March 6


I am really glad that the first thing was a giant picture of a white guy with fancy long hair, expensive sunglasses, and earbuds looking out over a symbolically-charged rugged landscape, to prepare me for how much this article sounded like it was written by a white guy with fancy long hair, expensive sunglasses, and earbuds looking out over a symbolically-charged rugged landscape.
posted by threeants at 8:13 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


lifehack.. when u eat an apple, hold it with all of ur fingers, not just two! now u can both eat an apple without dropping it and let ur friends know u "harnessed physics".... not too shabby!!
posted by threeants at 8:16 PM on March 6 [4 favorites]


You know what dudebro? I'm not much of a domestic sort. Case-in-point: it takes me 30 minutes to change my bedding. Wife can do it in 10 but she's been off supporting family through a crisis for the last two months. Even when she's here I'm happy to carry more than my weight around the house, but the one thing I defer to her on is changing the sheets* cuz she does it in the third of the time: So I'm juggling starting my new business, dealing with other family madness, cooking food, doing laundry, keeping the house clean and putting in more than full day on getting my business off the ground. So you know what, if some website comes along and says "here's a great hack to change your sheets faster", I'm going to bloody well do it. If you think that means I'd working one step less hard on all those other things, you can have intercourse with yourself.

*well, she kinda folds laundry as well because I'm so comically slow at folding laundry it's practically performance art
posted by dry white toast at 8:21 PM on March 6


mindfulness meditation can be a powerful and legitimately helpful activity and it would be profoundly shitty if the word were co-opted by the type of person who wrote this article

Lifehack meant something useful too at one point. I blame Gawker writer quotas for taking a fun term to describe shell scripts and turning it into instructions for peeing into a toilet.
posted by Gary at 9:42 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Gary, I agree, tho I think there's a little room in that definition -- at the end of that summary, they recommend this book, for instance.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:08 AM on March 7


"Fair lot of scrolling for that"

ENJOY THE JOURNEY
posted by klangklangston at 1:06 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


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