How to make resolutions that actually work

The secret to making resolutions that actually work is also the secret to making a hit movie. So let me teach you how to make a hit movie.

At the start, our hero lives their ordinary life. We wouldn’t care to watch that for long, but fortunately all good stories push our hero through a door.

Door-1-1024x640The door is something irreversible; once you walk through, you can never go back. For the Matrix, it’s Neo choosing the red pill. For Gravity, it’s having your shuttle sliced to ribbons. In Shawshank Redemption, an innocent man is sentenced to life.

The door is where the story begins. It puts our hero on a path they cannot escape, and the tension compels us to watch.

Near the end of the story, our hero must pass through a second door. Again, the door is one-way. But this door demands a resolution. To pass through it guarantees a conclusion, whatever that may be. Our hero must fight their nemesis to the death, or chase their love to the airport, or stand before disapproving parents and dance for their hopes and dreams.

Door-2It’s the formula of nearly every story ever told, because it works. Once you pass through a door, you can never go back.

Door-3

Now let me tell you what isn’t a good movie.

Our unhappy hero wakes up one late December morning and stares at the mirror. “Oh god” he sighs, at his portly reflection. “In the new year, I swear – I’m going to lose weight!”

And then he updates his Facebook status, buys a copy of Runners World, and goes to the gym three times. The End.

Door-4If you want to make a resolution – a real resolution – you’re gonna have to walk through a door. The smart, resolute part of yourself might be in control now, but you know that’s not who will stop you. The lazy, stupid, reflexive part of yourself will be in control later, when the air is cold and you feel sort-of-ill-ish-I-think, and if you haven’t got something to drag that screaming brat out of bed you will fail.

You do this already, by the way. School, for example, is a door you can’t well choose not to pass through, which is why you attended it so successfully. Your job works in the same way, as does marriage and children. Doors are irreversible and non-optional, and our society is predicated on them.

So you really want to start your own business? Try quitting your job; that’ll take care of motivation. Want to lose weight? Sign up for a marathon in 9 months in an exciting foreign country, and book the non-refundable flights now. Or if that’s more than you can handle, start a scheduled team activity where if someone misses out, it hurts the others. Guilt will carry you when willpower fails.

Don’t jump on Facebook to announce your new resolution. It gives you a short term ego buzz now (“Look at me! I’m so awesome!”) but does zip to regulate your behaviour (few friends will remember your promise, or be so crude as to call you on it). By all means involve friends, but make your pressures real.

Most of all, don’t make the mistake of thinking wishful words alone will get you there. Nearly everyone fails their new year’s resolutions, which should be about as surprising as learning that the words “avada kedavra” don’t actually kill people. Just saying words doesn’t make a thing happen. Walk through a door instead.

Post by Oliver Emberton
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To Boldly Go…

An impending new year gives rise to reflection and goal setting. What will your goals for 2014 be? It’s never to early to start thinking about self improvement!

2013 was/is so far the worst year of my life for various reasons, with 2012 giving a run for the same. :/

Apart from just hoping that 2014 would be better, haven’t given any thought to it. Actually I haven’t even given a thought about hoping, just came in to my head when I typed this.

Hope you (reader) have better luck in self-improvement.

All The Pieces Matter

That was my first (and only) thought when I first read about this line – All That Matters. This line is comes from the first season of The Wire. The show is regarded by critics and fans as one of the best TV dramas ever made, and is recognized for its realistic portrayal of urban life, its literary ambitions, and its uncommonly deep exploration of sociopolitical themes. I’ll be using two scenes both from the early first season itself in putting forth my views.

See this short clip:

In this scene, Freamon and Pryzbylewski are among the two detectives of a special division of the Baltimore city police known as Major Crimes who are trying to take down a major drug empire. Here they are having a discussion while monitoring the wire they have on the pay-phone. Pryzbylewski tries to log a monitored conversation as “not pertinent” to their investigation because there was no talk of drugs. Freamon explains to him why, when you are trying to piece together elements of a criminal conspiracy in which codes are used, almost any conversation between the key players should be considered pertinent.

In Lester’s own words: “We’re building something here, detective, and we’re building it from scratch… and all the pieces matter.”

The most obvious metaphor to draw on in this case is that of a jigsaw puzzle. To get the total picture, you need all the pieces, even the ones that don’t seem to have anything interesting on them. And is there any bigger puzzle than life itself?

These pieces ultimately lead to the goal of anyone in his/her life which is happiness as they say, whether it’s subconsciously hidden or actually realized. Happiness is mostly associated, if not limited to success, but the existence of happiness itself is meaningless if there isn’t the polar opposite, the feeling of sadness or the most uninteresting neutral feeling of boredom in the picture.

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Mind you, like any other being I too do not want any boredom or mediocrity, let alone sadness or failures. But then, they do come with this package of life and are inevitable, they cannot be evaded. This subsequently leads on to the thought of whether happiness is really an entity that matters. But not always we are free to go about as we like, are we?

Although we like to think of ourselves as free (or at least those who can read this anyways) but what we call freedom actually operates according to the rules of structured interaction. Even those who live outside of the law — as do the drug dealers in The Wire — are still restrained by their own unwritten laws, rituals and taboos.

Here in this scene D’Angelo Barksdale explains it succinctly:

Before we even get into the specifics of D’Angelo’s speech, it is worth noting the deep significance of the fact that Wallace and Bodie, two youth in the gang are playing checkers with chess pieces. While it might seem like nothing more than an amusing way to introduce D’Angelo’s lesson, it is, in fact, a statement on their obvious status as pawns in the drug game.

As drug dealers, they are already deeply engaged in The Game. Whether they know it or not, they are on that chess board, their lives being played out according to fairly specific strategies and rules. As faceless, disposable soldiers, however, they don’t even know the fundamental rules of the game in which they are embedded.

We think of the king and queen (and even the knights, bishops and rooks to varying degrees) as fairly autonomous operators, the very definition of the word “pawn” carries the implication that someone else is entirely in control of their actions. Whereas pawns, often used as bait or as stationary deterrents, are valuable primarily for their simplicity and abundance (disposability), not their ability to understand what else is going on on the board.

To put it a different way, it is not simply that they are playing checkers because they don’t understand chess. They are playing chess. They just think they’re playing checkers. Their simplistic understanding is both a hindrance to their own development and the reason they are effective pawns. This same inability of understanding is what that hinders many of us.

We become pawns in our own game, someday a queen, not the king.

We all are pawns in a constantly changing game. We are knights and kings in people’s life and pawns in others. But little it’s realized that the disposable pawn is as important as the game changer. Primarily our needs comprising of happiness, freedom, people in our lives, the fact we need to have an understanding of the working of things without having to choose one over the other is what matters. Even as a fact over the spiritual sense of having importance of materialistic things as much as people and aforementioned entities of importance which exist, they matter too, even the small function they play which can seem large.


I want everything.

So as a person in the game of life, going ahead, All The Pieces Matter.