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How do I become more responsible?
October 5, 2011 12:51 PM   Subscribe

I am a talented, social, religious, active, healthy, and disciplined adult. However, one of my great strengths is that I am quite adaptable - I "roll with the punches" very well, you could say. The problem with this is that I sometimes take a more irresponsible path (procrastination, running late, omitting important tasks) because I've learned through experience that the energy expended in adapting to consequences is often less than the energy expended in being completely responsible from the beginning. I want to become more responsible, because I feel like my irresponsibility is keeping me from reaching an even higher level of productivity and happiness. How can I reach level 70 arch-mage zen responsibility?
posted by rinogo to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've learned through experience that the energy expended in adapting to consequences is often less than the energy expended in being completely responsible from the beginning.

As long as this remains true for you, you'll keep doing it. Find a way to make it not true. Or to convince yourself that it isn't.
posted by liketitanic at 1:00 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would ask the people to whom you have responsibilities whether they have as high an opinion of your productivity as you do, and how your choices make them feel.
posted by tel3path at 1:04 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


the energy expended in adapting to consequences is often less than the energy expended in being completely responsible from the beginning.

When you're counting up energy here, are you considering yours as well as the people who are influenced by your decisions? I'm not quite as adaptable but I also hang out with people sometimes hwo are not very adaptable at all [other times I'm with "roll with the punches" people] and I sort of try to do the math to make sure that the sum total of everyone's expended energy--even if it's other people's energy wondering where I am if I'm ten minutes late because I didn't want to rush--is in my calculations. So if you're dealing with things that only affect you, procrastinating on making your own dinner or whatever, then there's really no harm in any real way and do whatever. If you're talking about things that affect others, that might be good to include in calculations.

And, more generally, I also count the time I spend mulling something over or keeping it on the back burner. So, for a dopey example, I sometimes slack filling the bird feeders. The birds don't care, they are birds. That said, every time I have to think "Oh I really need to do that" is tiny mind time that is being taken up with something totally avoidable, regardless of whether I am a bad person or not (I side with not) for feeding the birds later rather than earlier. So I see clearing my psychic plate as something that has value, and frees my mind up for other things that are more enjoyable than "remember to full bird feeders" and I think this is more along the lines of what you are talking about.

Or maybe in a "prove it to yourself" way... how do you really know you're disciplined, really disciplined, if you're late, skip tasks and procrastinate? Set challenges for yourself that make you aim higher than you are already aiming and see how that goes for you. I've personally found that approach helpful.
posted by jessamyn at 1:04 PM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've learned through experience that the energy expended in adapting to consequences is often less than the energy expended in being completely responsible from the beginning.

Consider the "Black Swan." Just because you have flipped heads 99 times in a row does not mean you always will. Expending the extra energy in being completely (or, well, okay, maybe just mostly) responsible from the beginning will either prevent or minimize any discomfort you experience when the consequences of not being responsible come up tails. (I speak from experience. It's a constant struggle, and for my money, it unfortunately doesn't make me feel THAT much awesomer about myself for the extra energy expended. But it's worth it to avoid the Black Swan.)
posted by AugieAugustus at 1:08 PM on October 5, 2011


I sort of try to do the math to make sure that the sum total of everyone's expended energy--even if it's other people's energy wondering where I am if I'm ten minutes late because I didn't want to rush--is in my calculations.

Yes, do this. When you do something late, your convenience is most likely somebody else's inconvenience.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:10 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Level 70 zen arch-mages do not exist in reality. People, who have only so many hours in the day, do. Are you getting the everything you need to be a functioning adult done? That's the only thing you should be worried about. tel3path hit it right on the head. The way you're phrasing it, I can't tell if you're actually that guy who makes everyone else's life harder because he's a flake, or if you're just having angst about not being sufficiently superhuman. What do the people around you say about all this?
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 2:00 PM on October 5, 2011


jessamyn's response regarding mental energy is what gets me to do a lot of nagging tasks, like taking out the trash or fixing a squeaky hinge. If I don't, I think about *that thing* every time I walk by it, and I'd rather spend my mental energy elsewhere.

Guilt prevents me from running late. I'm punctual because I feel bad when I think of people waiting around for me.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:49 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


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