You can’t manufacture real accomplishment.
The hot thrill of actual accomplishment kicks the shit out of any manufactured feeling. Actually coaching and winning a single lacrosse game was 10x more enjoyable than the hundreds of games of Madden that I had won combined. Actually learning how to play 1 song on the guitar perfectly felt better than beating Guitar Hero a dozen times. Actually going out and meeting up with friends built our relationship stronger than any online interaction could hope to.
We live in a world now where the enormous advantages that all of us have are taken for granted. We literally have the entirety of human knowledge available to us through a simple search engine. We carry around supercomputers in our pockets. We press “poke” and “like” to let our friends know that we’ve seen what they’re up to.
So, sure. It’s obvious that ACTUAL accomplishment beats manufactured accomplishment. Everyone knows this, and yet why do so many slip back into old habits and put off what they know they really want?
Being patient sucks… but it’s worth it.
The reason is, simply, that real accomplishments are hard. In the time it took me to apply for the coaching job, interview, take classes on coaching, meet with the team, plan and attend practice every day for a month, lose a game, lose another game, lose a third game, deal with issues on the team, and keep organized through all this, I could have played and won hundreds of games of Madden. All of that effort, trial, work, thought… to win one game. So most people just stick to Madden. It’s easier. You get a little sugar rush after winning a fake Super Bowl, and for a couple minutes, you feel complete. Are you guilty of this? I know I am.
To create and strengthen a neural pathway and the muscle memory between my two hands and brain that allowed me to learn how to play Norwegian Wood took a full week of practice every day until I got it down perfect. At first my fingers felt like cold sausages. They didn’t move where I wanted them to, they didn’t move fast enough, and it seemed like my fingers were unwilling and unable to do what my brain was telling them to do. Until it clicked. There was a moment in time when it suddenly became effortless to play. Everything was working like it was supposed to. Am I going to be on stage with 21 Pilots anytime soon? No. But I found something I enjoy and that’s all that matters.
The point is not that video games, junk food, or drugs are all bad. A little bit of escapism is what keeps us sane throughout our lives, just so long as you aren’t an addict and can have the self control to exercise moderation. The point is that it is far too easy in the world of abundance and technology that we live in today to put off the big accomplishments for later and just enjoy the shallow, unfulfilling, sugary goodness that comes from immediate gratification. I challenge you to pick up something you’ve always wanted to learn and commit to it. Just 5-10 minutes every day – learn it. Don’t try to run before you walk. It will be difficult — but when you finish you will be glad you did.