Monthly Archives: May 2018

How to Beat Procrastination – Wait But Why – Procrastination Part 2

Part 2. Where does a procrastinator go wrong and how can you actually improve your procrastination habits?

Source: How to Beat Procrastination – Wait But Why

By Tim Urban

pro-cras-ti-na-tion |prəˌkrastəˈnāSHən, prō-| noun
the action of ruining your own life for no apparent reason

Let me start by saying that I’ve had just about enough of the irony of battling through crippling procrastination while trying to write posts on procrastination and how to beat it. I’ve spent the last two weeks being this guy, who shoots himself in the foot while talking about gun safety, and I look forward to getting back to irony-free procrastination following this post.

A couple notes before we begin:

  • I’m not a professional at any of this, just a lifelong procrastinator who thinks about this topic all the time. I’m still in a total battle with my own habits, but I have made some progress in the last few years, and I’m drawing my thoughts from what’s worked for me.
  • This post was posted late, not only because it took me 2,000 years to do, but also because I decided that Monday night was an urgent time to open Google Earth, hover a few hundred feet above the southern tip of India, and scroll all the way up India to the top of the country, to “get a better feel for India.” I have problems.

Alright, so last week we dove into the everyday inner struggle of the procrastinatorto examine the underlying psychology going on. But this week, when we’re actually trying to do something about it, we need to dig even deeper. Let’s begin by trying to unwrap the procrastinator’s psychology and see what’s really at the core of things:

We know about the Instant Gratification Monkey (the part of your brain that makes you procrastinate) and his dominion over the Rational Decision Maker, but what’s really happening there?

The procrastinator is in the bad habit, bordering on addiction, of letting the monkey win. He continues to have the intention to control the monkey, but he puts forth a hapless effort, using the same proven-not-to-work methods he’s used for years, and deep down, he knows the monkey will win. He vows to change, but the patterns just stay the same. So why would an otherwise capable person put forth such a lame and futile effort again and again?

The answer is that he has incredibly low confidence when it comes to this part of his life, allowing himself to become enslaved by a self-defeating, self-fulfilling prophecy. Let’s call this self-fulfilling prophecy his Storyline. The procrastinator’s Storyline goes something like this:

For the Have-To-Dos in my life, I’ll end up waiting until the last minute, panicking, and then either doing less than my best work or shutting down and not doing anything at all. For the Want-To-Dos in my life, let’s be honest—I’ll either start one and quit or more likely, I just won’t ever get around to it.

The procrastinator’s problems run deep, and it takes something more than “being more self-disciplined” or “changing his bad habits” for him to change his ways—the root of the problem is embedded in his Storyline, and his Storyline is what must change.


Before we talk about how Storylines change, let’s examine, concretely, what the procrastinator even wants to change into. What do the right habits even look like, and where exactly will the procrastinator run into trouble?

There are two components of being able to achieve things in a healthy and effective manner—planning and doing. Let’s start with the easy one:


Procrastinators love planning, quite simply because planning does not involve doing, and doing is the procrastinator’s Kryptonite.

But when procrastinators plan, they like to do it in a vague way that doesn’t consider details or reality too closely, and their planning leaves them perfectly set up to not actually accomplish anything. A procrastinator’s planning session leaves him with a doer’s nightmare:

A big list of icky, daunting tasks and undertakings.

A big list of vague and daunting things makes the Instant Gratification Monkey laugh. When you make a list like that, the monkey says, “Oh perfect, this is easy.” Even if your gullible conscious mind believes it intends to accomplish the items on that list in an efficient manner, the monkey knows that in your subconscious, you have no intention of doing so.

Effective planning, on the other hand, sets you up for success. Its purpose is to do the exact opposite of everything in that sentence:

Effective planning takes a big list and selects a winner:

A big list is perhaps an early phase of planning, but planning must end with rigorous prioritizing and one item that emerges as the winner—the item you’re going to make your first priority. And the item that wins should be the one that means the most to you—the item that’s most important for your happiness. If urgent items are involved, those will have to come first and should be knocked out as quickly as possible in order to make way for the important items (procrastinators love to use unimportant but urgent items as an excuse to forever put off the important ones).

Effective planning makes an icky item un-icky:

We all know what an icky item is. An icky item is vague and murky, and you’re not really sure where you’d start, how you’d go about doing it, or where you’d get answers to your questions about it.

So let’s say your dream is to make your own app, and you know that if you build a successful app you could quit your job and become a full-time developer. You also think that programming ability is the literacy of the 21st century, and you don’t have money to spend outsourcing development anyway, so you decide to anoint “Learn how to code” the winning item on your list—the number one priority. Exciting, right?

Well, no, because “Learn how to code” is an intensely icky item—and every time you decide it’s time to get started, you will coincidentally also decide your inbox needs to be cleaned out and your kitchen floor needs to be mopped, ASAP. It’ll never end up happening.

To un-icky the item, you need to read, research, and ask questions to find out exactly how one learns how to code, the specific means necessary for each step along the way, and how long each one should take. Un-ickying a list item turns it from this:

Into this:

Effective planning turns a daunting item into a series of small, clear, manageable tasks:

Icky combines with Daunting into an Instant Gratification Monkey steroid potion. And just because you un-icky an item, it doesn’t mean it’s still not horribly big and daunting. The key to de-dauntifying an item is to absorb this fact:

A remarkable, glorious achievement is just what a long series of unremarkable, unglorious tasks looks like from far away.

No one “builds a house.” They lay one brick again and again and again and the end result is a house. Procrastinators are great visionaries—they love to fantasize about the beautiful mansion they will one day have built—but what they need to be are gritty construction workers, who methodically lay one brick after the other, day after day, without giving up, until a house is built.

Nearly every big undertaking can be boiled down to a core unit of progress—its brick. A 45-minute gym visit is the brick of getting in great shape. A 30-minute practice session is the brick of becoming a great guitarist.

The average day in a wannabe author’s week and a real author’s week looks almost the same. The real author writes a couple pages, laying a brick, and the wannabe author writes nothing. 98% of their day is otherwise identical. But a year later, the real author has a completed first draft of a book and the wannabe author has…nothing.

It’s all about the bricks.

And the good news is, laying one brick isn’t daunting. But bricks do require scheduling. So the final step in planning is to make a Brick Timeline, which slots bricks into the calendar. The slots are non-negotiable and non-cancellable—after all, it’s your first priority and the thing that matters most to you, isn’t it? The most important date is the first one. You can’t start learning to code “in November.” But you can start learning to code on November 21st from 6:00 – 7:00pm.

Now you’re effectively planned—just follow the schedule and you’ll be a programmer. Only thing left is to do


It’s not that procrastinators don’t like the concept of doing. They look at the bricks on their calendar and they think, “Great, this will be fun.” And that’s because when they picture the moment in the future when they sit down and knock out a work session, they picture things without the presence of the Instant Gratification Monkey. Procrastinators’ visions of future scenarios never seem to include the monkey.

But when the actual moment arrives to begin that scheduled brick-laying, the procrastinator does what the procrastinator does best—he lets the monkey take over and ruin everything.

And since we just stressed above that all achievement boils down to the ability to lay that one brick during that slot when it’s on your schedule, we seem to have isolated the core struggle here. Let’s examine this specific challenge of laying a single brick:

So this diagram represents the challenge at hand anytime you take on a task, whether it’s making a PowerPoint for work, going on a jog, working on a script, or anything else you do in your life. The Critical Entrance is where you go to officially start work on the task, the Dark Woods are the process of actually doing the work, and once you finish, you’re rewarded by ending up in The Happy Playground—a place where you feel satisfaction and where leisure time is pleasant and rewarding because you got something hard done. You occasionally even end up super-engaged with what you’re working on and enter a state of Flow, where you’re so blissfully immersed in the task that you lose track of time.

Those paths look something like this:

Sounds pretty simple, right?

Well unfortunately for procrastinators, they tend to miss out on both The Happy Playground and Flow.

For example, here’s a procrastinator that never even gets started on the task he’s supposed to do, because he never makes it through the Critical Entrance. Instead, he spends hours wallowing in The Dark Playground, hating himself:

Here’s a procrastinator who gets started on the task, but she can’t stay focused, and she keeps taking long breaks to play on the internet and make food. She doesn’t end up finishing the task:

Here’s a procrastinator who couldn’t bring himself to get started, even though a work deadline was approaching, and he spent hours in The Dark Playground, knowing the looming deadline was drawing near and he was only making his life harder by not starting. Eventually, the deadline got so close, the Panic Monster suddenly came roaring into the room, freaking him out and causing him to fly through the task to hit the deadline.

After he finishes, he feels decent because he accomplished something, but he’s also not that pleased because he knows he did an underwhelming job on the project because he had to rush so much, and he feels like he wasted most of his day procrastinating for no reason. This lands him in Mixed Feelings Park.

So if you’re a procrastinator, let’s look at what you need to do to get on the right path, one that will leave you much happier.

The first thing you must do is make it through the Critical Entrance. This means stopping whatever you’re doing when it’s time to begin the task, putting away all distractions, and getting started. It sounds simple, but this is the hardest part. This is where the Instant Gratification Monkey puts up his fiercest resistance:

The monkey absolutely hates stopping something fun to start something hard, and this is where you need to be the strongest. If you can get started and force the monkey into the Dark Woods, you’ve broken a bit of his will.

Of course, he’s not going to give up anytime soon.

The Dark Woods is where you are when you’re working. It’s not a fun place to be, and the Instant Gratification Monkey wants nothing to do with it. To make things harder, the Dark Woods is surrounded by the Dark Playground, one of the monkey’s favorite places, and since he can see how close it is, he’ll try as hard as he can to leave the Dark Woods.

There will also be times when you bump into a tree—maybe the jog is taking you on an uphill street, maybe you need to use an Excel formula you don’t know, maybe that song you’re writing just isn’t coming together the way you thought it would—and this is when the monkey will make his boldest attempt at an escape.

It makes no sense to leave the Dark Woods in favor of the Dark Playground—they’re both dark. They both suck to be in, but the big difference is the Dark Woods leads to happiness and the Dark Playground leads only to more misery. But the Instant Gratification Monkey isn’t logical and to him, the Dark Playground seems like much more fun.

The good news is, if you can power through a bit of the Dark Woods, something funny happens. Making progress on a task produces positive feelings of accomplishment and raises your self-esteem. The monkey gains his strength off of low self-esteem, and when you feel a jolt of self-satisfaction, the monkey finds a High Self-Esteem Banana in his path. It doesn’t quell his resistance entirely, but it goes a long way to distracting him for a while, and you’ll find that the urge to procrastinate has diminished.

Then, if you continue along, something magical happens. Once you get 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through a task, especially if it’s going well, you start to feel great about things and suddenly, the end is in sight. This is a key tipping point—

The Tipping Point is important because it’s not just you who can smell the Happy Playground up ahead—the monkey can smell it too. The monkey doesn’t care if his instant gratification comes alongside you or at your expense, he just loves things that are easy and fun. Once you hit the Tipping Point, the monkey becomes more interested in getting to the Happy Playground than the Dark Playground. When this happens, you lose all impulse to procrastinate and now both you and the monkey are speeding toward the finish.

Before you know it, you’re done, and you’re in the Happy Playground. Now, for the first time in a while, you and the monkey are a team. You both want to have fun, and it feels great because it’s earned. When you and the monkey are on a team, you’re almost always happy.

The other thing that might happen when you pass the Tipping Point, depending on the type of task and how well it’s going, is that you might start feeling fantastic about what you’re working on, so fantastic that continuing to work sounds like much more fun than stopping to do leisure activities. You’ve become obsessed with the task and you lose interest in basically everything else, including food and time—this is called Flow. Flow is not only a blissful feeling, it’s usually when you do great things.

The monkey is just as addicted to the bliss as you are, and you two are again a team.

Fighting through to the Tipping Point is hard, but what makes procrastination so hard to beat is that the Instant Gratification Monkey has a terribly short-term memory—even if you wildly succeed on Monday, when you begin a task on Tuesday, the monkey has forgotten everything and will again resist entering the Dark Woods or working through them.

And that’s why persistence is such a critical component of success. Laying each brick yields an inner struggle—and in the end, your ability to win this very specific struggle and lay brick after brick, day after day, is what lies at the core of a procrastinator’s struggle to gain control over his world.

So that’s what needs to happen—but if procrastination could be solved by reading a blog entry, it wouldn’t be such a large problem in so many people’s lives. There’s only one way to truly beat procrastination:

You need to prove to yourself that you can do it.

You need to show yourself you can do it, not tell yourself. Things will change when you show yourself that they can. Until then, you won’t believe it, and nothing will change. Think of yourself like a basketball player on a cold streak. For basketball players, it’s all about confidence, and an ice cold shooter can tell himself 1000 times, “I’m a great shooter, I’m going to hit this next one,” but it’s not until he physically hits a shot that his confidence goes up and his touch comes back.

So how do you start hitting shots?

1) Try to internalize the fact that everything you do is a choice.

Start by thinking about the terms we’ve used in these posts, and if they resonated with you, write them down. Part of the reason I assigned terms to so many of these feelings or phenomena—the Instant Gratification Monkey, the Rational Decision-Maker, the Panic Monster, the Dark Playground, Ickiness, Bricks, the Critical Entrance, the Dark Woods, the Tipping Point, the Happy Playground, Flow, your Storyline—is that terms help you clarify the reality of the choices you’re making. It helps expose bad choices and highlights when it’s most critical to make good ones.

2) Create methods to help you defeat the monkey.

Some possible methods:

  • Solicit external support by telling one or more friends or family members about a goal you’re trying to accomplish and asking them to hold you to it. If that’s hard for whatever reason, email it to me—I’m a stranger (—and just typing out a goal and sending it to a real person can help make it more real. (Some experts argue that telling people in your life about a goal can be counterproductive, so this depends on your particular situation.)
  • Create a Panic Monster if there’s not already one in place—if you’re trying to finish an album, schedule a performance for a few months from now, book a space, and send out an invitation to a group of people.
  • If you really want to start a business, quitting your job makes the Panic Monster your new roommate.
  • If you’re trying to write a consistent blog, put “new post every Tuesday” at the top of the page…
  • Leave post-it notes for yourself, reminding you to make good choices.
  • Set an alarm to remind yourself to start a task, or to remind you of the stakes.
  • Minimize distractions by all means necessary. If TV’s a huge problem, sell your TV. If the internet’s a huge problem, get a second computer for work that has Wifi disabled, and turn your phone on Airplane Mode during work sessions.
  • Lock yourself into something—put down a non-refundable deposit for lessons or a membership.

And if the methods you set up aren’t working, change them. Set a reminder for a month from now that says, “Have things improved? If not, change my methods.”

3) Aim for slow, steady progress—Storylines are rewritten one page at a time.

In the same way a great achievement happens unglorious brick by unglorious brick, a deeply-engrained habit like procrastination doesn’t change all at once, it changes one modest improvement at a time. Remember, this is all about showing yourself you can do it, so the key isn’t to be perfect, but to simply improve. The author who writes one page a day has written a book after a year. The procrastinator who gets slightly better every week is a totally changed person a year later.

So don’t think about going from A to Z—just start with A to B. Change the Storyline from “I procrastinate on every hard task I do” to “Once a week, I do a hard task without procrastinating.” If you can do that, you’ve started a trend. I’m still a wretched procrastinator, but I’m definitely better than I was last year, so I feel hopeful about the future.

Why do I think about this topic so much, and why did I just write a 19,000-word blog post on it?

Because defeating procrastination is the same thing as gaining control over your own life. So much of what makes people happy or unhappy—their level of fulfillment and satisfaction, their self-esteem, the regrets they carry with them, the amount of free time they have to dedicate to their relationships—is severely affected by procrastination. So it’s worthy of being taken dead seriously, and the time to start improving is now.


The follow-up to these two posts: The Procrastination Matrix



Why Procrastinators Procrastinate – Wait But Why – Procrastination Part 1


The full story about why procrastinators routinely ruin their own lives.

Source: Why Procrastinators Procrastinate – Wait But Why

By Tim Urban

pro-cras-ti-na-tion |prəˌkrastəˈnāSHən, prō-| noun
the action of delaying or postponing something: your first tip is to avoid procrastination.

Who would have thought that after decades of struggle with procrastination, the dictionary, of all places, would hold the solution.

Avoid procrastination. So elegant in its simplicity.

While we’re here, let’s make sure obese people avoid overeating, depressed people avoid apathy, and someone please tell beached whales that they should avoid being out of the ocean.

No, “avoid procrastination” is only good advice for fake procrastinators—those people that are like, “I totally go on Facebook a few times every day at work—I’m such a procrastinator!” The same people that will say to a real procrastinator something like, “Just don’t procrastinate and you’ll be fine.”

The thing that neither the dictionary nor fake procrastinators understand is that for a real procrastinator, procrastination isn’t optional—it’s something they don’t know how to not do.

In college, the sudden unbridled personal freedom was a disaster for me—I did nothing, ever, for any reason. The one exception was that I had to hand in papers from time to time. I would do those the night before, until I realized I could just do them through the night, and I did that until I realized I could actually start them in the early morning on the day they were due. This behavior reached caricature levels when I was unable to start writing my 90-page senior thesis until 72 hours before it was due, an experience that ended with me in the campus doctor’s office learning that lack of blood sugar was the reason my hands had gone numb and curled up against my will. (I did get the thesis in—no, it was not good.)

Even this post took much longer than it should have, because I spent a bunch of hours doing things like seeing this picture sitting on my desktop from a previous post, opening it, looking at it for a long time thinking about how easily he could beat me in a fight, then wondering if he could beat a tiger in a fight, then wondering who would win between a lion and a tiger, and then googling that and reading about it for a while (the tiger would win). I have problems.

To understand why procrastinators procrastinate so much, let’s start by understanding a non-procrastinator’s brain:

Pretty normal, right? Now, let’s look at a procrastinator’s brain:

Notice anything different?

It seems the Rational Decision-Maker in the procrastinator’s brain is coexisting with a pet—the Instant Gratification Monkey.

This would be fine—cute, even—if the Rational Decision-Maker knew the first thing about how to own a monkey. But unfortunately, it wasn’t a part of his training and he’s left completely helpless as the monkey makes it impossible for him to do his job.

The fact is, the Instant Gratification Monkey is the last creature who should be in charge of decisions—he thinks only about the present, ignoring lessons from the past and disregarding the future altogether, and he concerns himself entirely with maximizing the ease and pleasure of the current moment. He doesn’t understand the Rational Decision-Maker any better than the Rational Decision-Maker understands him—why would we continue doing this jog, he thinks, when we could stop, which would feel better. Why would we practice that instrument when it’s not fun? Why would we ever use a computer for work when the internet is sitting right there waiting to be played with? He thinks humans are insane.

In the monkey world, he’s got it all figured out—if you eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired, and don’t do anything difficult, you’re a pretty successful monkey. The problem for the procrastinator is that he happens to live in the human world, making the Instant Gratification Monkey a highly unqualified navigator. Meanwhile, the Rational Decision-Maker, who was trained to make rational decisions, not to deal with competition over the controls, doesn’t know how to put up an effective fight—he just feels worse and worse about himself the more he fails and the more the suffering procrastinator whose head he’s in berates him.

It’s a mess. And with the monkey in charge, the procrastinator finds himself spending a lot of time in a place called the Dark Playground.1

The Dark Playground is a place every procrastinator knows well. It’s a place where leisure activities happen at times when leisure activities are not supposed to be happening. The fun you have in the Dark Playground isn’t actually fun because it’s completely unearned and the air is filled with guilt, anxiety, self-hatred, and dread. Sometimes the Rational Decision-Maker puts his foot down and refuses to let you waste time doing normal leisure things, and since the Instant Gratification Monkey sure as hell isn’t gonna let you work, you find yourself in a bizarre purgatory of weird activities where everyone loses.2

And the poor Rational Decision-Maker just mopes, trying to figure out how he let the human he’s supposed to be in charge of end up here again.

Given this predicament, how does the procrastinator ever manage to accomplish anything?

As it turns out, there’s one thing that scares the shit out of the Instant Gratification Monkey:

The Panic Monster is dormant most of the time, but he suddenly wakes up when a deadline gets too close or when there’s danger of public embarrassment, a career disaster, or some other scary consequence.

The Instant Gratification Monkey, normally unshakable, is terrified of the Panic Monster. How else could you explain the same person who can’t write a paper’s introductory sentence over a two-week span suddenly having the ability to stay up all night, fighting exhaustion, and write eight pages? Why else would an extraordinarily lazy person begin a rigorous workout routine other than a Panic Monster freakout about becoming less attractive?

And these are the lucky procrastinators—there are some who don’t even respond to the Panic Monster, and in the most desperate moments they end up running up the tree with the monkey, entering a state of self-annihilating shutdown.

Quite a crowd we are.

Of course, this is no way to live. Even for the procrastinator who does manage to eventually get things done and remain a competent member of society, something has to change. Here are the main reasons why:

1) It’s unpleasant. Far too much of the procrastinator’s precious time is spent toiling in the Dark Playground, time that could have been spent enjoying satisfying, well-earned leisure if things had been done on a more logical schedule. And panic isn’t fun for anyone.

2) The procrastinator ultimately sells himself short. He ends up underachieving and fails to reach his potential, which eats away at him over time and fills him with regret and self-loathing.

3) The Have-To-Dos may happen, but not the Want-To-Dos. Even if the procrastinator is in the type of career where the Panic Monster is regularly present and he’s able to be fulfilled at work, the other things in life that are important to him—getting in shape, cooking elaborate meals, learning to play the guitar, writing a book, reading, or even making a bold career switch—never happen because the Panic Monster doesn’t usually get involved with those things. Undertakings like those expand our experiences, make our lives richer, and bring us a lot of happiness—and for most procrastinators, they get left in the dust.

So how can a procrastinator improve and become happier? See Part 2, How To Beat Procrastination.

Well-Intentioned Acts That Don’t Actually Make Anything Better

Taking your own grocery bags to the store because it’s eco-friendly? Think again. Here is a list of some well intentioned acts we do that in reality, don’t help the planet at all.

Source: Well-Intentioned Acts That Don’t Actually Make Anything Better

We all want to be better people and help the planet. But there are several things we do with good intentions that actually end up being bad for the environment.
Read below to get a summary of the list and see how sometimes are good intentions actually have reverse effects. Don’t believe us? Check the sources.

You Tried: Using reusable grocery bags, thinking it benefits the environment

Reality: In essence this will eventually happen but only after you use them around 300 times. The process and energy that goes into making the reusable bags offsets the energy of using paper bags that are actually recyclable. People often use the paper bags for trash bags as well so they don’t go to waste; not to mention, they are pretty much 100 percent biodegradable.

Even the plastic bags that are the traditional choice in supermarkets may be less harmful to the environment than the reusable bags. According to a draft report from the United Kingdom’s Environment Agency, those plastic bags are often “greener than supposedly low impact choices.”
Why? Oftentimes, our cloth bags are not biodegradable and are made from things like cotton, linen, or nylon which will end up sitting in a landfill for years and years.

You Tried: Earmarking your money for a cause when you donate money

Reality: Charity funding can be incredibly selective. The big charities tend to get all the money and resources while the smaller ones fall by the wayside. Therefore all these projects with high-profile celebrity names attached can be overfunded.
While the project may come out and shine with brilliance, there are several other projects that could have used that money to even reach adequacy. Be extra careful when choosing a charity and do some research to see the benefits.

You Tried: Volunteer to clean birds after an oil spill

Reality: Some say those volunteers can do more harm than good. After the Gulf spill, thousands of inexperienced people rushed to go cleanup the birds that were affected. They didn’t realize that with the large crowds the birds would often retreat further away and therefore abandon their nests, eggs, and chicks, all of which were also trampled on by volunteers.
Getty Images News / Justin Sullivan
Even with the expert cleaners, birds that survived and released were possibly released into the wrong habitat. Around 90 percent of them died from starvation or poisoning from ingested oil.

You Tried: Using biofuel to leave a smaller gasoline-enriched footprint on our environment

Reality: Ninety percent of biofuel in the United States is made from corn ethanol. The problem? Growing corn is actually one of the most heavy burdens on our environment, due to the massive amounts of land, water, erosion, and nitrogen-rich fertilizer required. All of these further damage the Earth’s soil and oceans.
Plus this type of ethanol fails to reduce our energy consumption—it actually increases it.

You Tried: Buying local to save the energy which would be used to transport the food

Reality: Growing the food that people want in a local environment may not be a great choice. The location may not be perfectly suited for that type of growth or food, which means using resources to grow it will actually use much more energy, will be more expensive, and can damage the environment.
Food that is outsourced on a large scale and then transported to local markets is generally better for the environment. The fact is, over 90 percent of food-related emissions don’t from the transportation of it, but the physical production of that food.

You Tried: Attending a charity concert to benefit a third-world countries

Reality: This may not always be the case, but it sure seems to happen a lot. Take for instance Wyclef Jean and his Yele Haiti charity: They collected over $15 million dollars for Haitians devastated by the 2010 earthquake. Half that money was spent on travel expenses, building a headquarters that has since been abandoned, and personal fees.

Furthermore, Live Aid, one of the biggest charity concerts in the world, ended up helping Ethiopia’s terrible government, which further sent the Ethiopian economy into a tailspin.

You Tried: Donating money to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Reality: The organization may completely waste your money. The Wounded Warrior Project only donates around 60 percent of their annual income on veterans, spending 40 to 50 percent on overhead costs. Other charities, like the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust, spends 96 percent of their donations on legitimate veteran services.
In 2016, CBS investigated the Wounded Warrior Project; afterwards the CEO and COO were fired.

You Tried: Donating your old eyeglasses when you no longer use them.

Reality: This isn’t a direct lost cause and can sometimes be beneficial. However, it is just sort of a diamond in the rough. There is research showing that the cost to recycle glasses and actually find someone with the same exact prescription is very expensive and rare.
It may be almost adequate for the person to buy new ones at a Sam’s or Costco. Plus the used glasses won’t be in great condition and it takes a lot of work and money to repair them.

You Tried: Picking a charity that has a low overhead.

Reality: This is not always the case. People often assume that because a charity has less overhead spending, that means it’s more effective, but a certain amount of spending is necessary for a charity to succeed.
Research often shows that charities with higher overhead can be more influential and helpful than those that appear to be more cost-saving. The theory is supported by the old idea that it takes money to make money, so those charities may spend more on advertising and therefore be better well known.

You Tried: Volunteering in a third-world country to help

Reality: The good intentions are fully there and, hey, sometimes it really will help when there simply isn’t enough manpower to do the job otherwise. However, there are plenty of situations where tourists looking to feel good—commonly known as “voluntourism”—will come in to help but they only end up hurting.
By popping in for a week or two to construct sub-standard buildings, they’re actually taking jobs away from the locals. Everything from shipping materials to labor will affect their economy since people may not have a job for as long and the materials aren’t coming from local vendors. And those sweet orphans in the children’s homes may not actually be orphans—their parents may have abandoned them to an organization that purposely keeps them in poor conditions in order to solicit more donations from upset tourists.

You Tried: Supporting the Beat Bullying campaign by wearing bracelets

Reality: In 2005, a UK organization launched a campaign that sold blue bracelet with the phrase “Beat Bullying” on them. These bracelets went on to be sold on eBay for up to $30 a piece and became almost trendy as Livestrong bracelets did in the States.
Getty Images News / Scott Barbour
Unfortunately, they became so popular they evolved into an object for bullies to identify kids and then bully them even more for having the bracelets. It had a reverse effect in many schools and were ordered to not be worn anymore.

You Tried: Supporting Nebraska’s safe-haven law, which applied to any child up to age 18

Reality: This law stated that mothers could drop their children off at any hospital without repercussions, rather than abandon their babies in dumpsters or drains. It was meant to help give mothers a way out in a time of panic, instead of harming their innocent children.
John Tlumacki/Boston Globe
Unfortunately, Nebraska took it a step too far and offered safe haven to children of any age. They ended up having kids from as far away as Florida showing up, who had been abandoned by their frustrated parents. The law was eventually amended to accept only infants up to 30 days old.

You Tried: Buying all-natural, healthy, bamboo clothing to save the environment.

Reality: The process completely negates this idea. In order to turn bamboo into textiles, they have to be crushed, ground, dissolved in lye, mixed with carbon disulfide (which is a neurotoxin), and then washed in battery acid and spun into fibers.
That “all-natural” process is pretty much awful for the environment and costs almost three times as much as an organic cotton shirt would.

You Tried: You try to be eco-friendly by buying the “green” disposable ones

Reality: Huggies’ Pure and Natural diapers claim to be made from organic materials but in reality, they are far from it. There is a lawsuit against them showing that their diapers contain unnatural and potentially harmful ingredients such as polypropylene and sodium polyacrylate and are therefore not pure nor natural.
If you really want to help, then buy cloth diapers and wash them—true, that’s a lot of “byproduct” to deal with, but at least it’s good for the environment.

You Tried: Non-stop recycling to keep our planet from turning into “Wall-E.”

Reality: Scientists have come up with calculations that if we abide by current rates, all the garbage in the United States over the next 1,000 years would fill up a 35 square-mile landfill that is about 100 yards deep. In other words, it’s not that bad.
If you do the math that is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the land currently used for grazing in the United States. As far as energy goes, once you factor in washing you would basically need to use your ceramic mug over 1,000 times to make it use less resources than a polystyrene cup.

You Tried: Buying organic food because it sounds like it’s healthy and great for the planet

Reality: There is actually no evidence that organic food is healthier for us. It may actually be harder on the environment as well. When you take away chemical fertilizers and pesticide, farming becomes much less efficient.
So they don’t come up with as many crops, but it takes a lot more work. Therefore cost goes up, and production goes down. Plus the organic food has to be shipped further and increases emissions because organic food can’t be grown everywhere.

The 6 Jobs Everyone Will Want in 2040

What the kids of tomorrow can look forward to.

Source: The 6 Jobs Everyone Will Want in 2040


If you’re a new parent, or prone to abstract theorizing, you’ve probably spent some late nights wondering what the future holds for job seekers.

In 2040, the babies born today will be at the start of their careers. Will the job market they face look anything like now?

Maybe, maybe not. Automation has already eliminated millions of manufacturing, foodservice, and retail jobs, and there’s little doubt it will eventually reshape every other industry.

Some good news: Research from Oxford University shows there are hundreds of roles that aren’t going anywhere — like occupational therapy, choreography, environmental engineering, and mental health counseling, among others.

Some better news: While some jobs will disappear, loads more will be created.

In fact, according to a forecast from the Institute for the Future (IFTF), 85% of the jobsin 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. Ten years after that, the workforce may be totally unrecognizable.

Here’s what the hottest jobs of 2040 could look like.

Virtual Store Manager

More consumers are shopping online, but they still crave human connection.

In a Google survey, 61% of mobile users said they call a business before making online purchases. And 73% of consumers think online advertisements “should tell a unique story,” according to a study from Adobe and Edelman Berland.

Amir Mashkoori, CEO and Co-founder of ISDI Digital University, doesn’t expect that to change anytime soon.

“As the pace of technology accelerates, people are thinking about how to bring the basic things that machines don’t have — the ability to think, smell, taste — into the consumer journey,” he says. “In a digital world, you lose some of that capability.”

In the future, brands will try to inject humanity into their digital spaces, with customer outreach and data-driven site design, says Steve Cadigan, co-founder of ISDI. Ironically, they’ll need humans for that.

“The customer is now a set of eyeballs,” he says. “The role of community manager, someone who engages and delight customers in a digital world the same way as the retail store manager, is going to explode.”

Robot Mediator

Sure, robots are disrupting some industries. But in others, they’re actually just making humans better at their jobs. The robots in Amazon’s warehouses, which buzz around the company’s fulfillment centers and help workers find and carry items, is a perfect example.

As robot-human partnerships become more common, complications will arise — and could create some surprising ancillary jobs. Some, like robot repair, already exist. Others, like robot counselor, do not.

“Despite fears of automation taking away jobs, the need for skilled humans to operate, utilize and advance technologies will remain unequivocally necessary,” says Alan Stukalsky, Chief Digital Officer at the recruiting agency Randstad USA. “Perhaps AI therapists will be the next evolution in mental health professionals—helping workers cope with their non-human colleagues.”

Robot Trainer

Machine learning, which uses algorithms to train computers to, say, make a Spotify playlist, was once a skill known by an elite few.

The programmers in those roles today are still some of the most sought-after professionals out there, but new technology has made becoming one more accessible.

Eventually, the algorithms that control these functions will become standardized, and the jobs tasked with interfacing with them could feasibly go to low-level workers, says Avi Flombaum, dean of the coding bootcamp Flatiron School.

“You don’t need to understand a robot to program routines into a robot,” he says. “As software becomes commoditized, I can see this becoming the entry level job of the future, like working with an Excel spreadsheet.”

Drone Traffic Controller

In 2016, more than 670,000 drones were registered with the federal government.

With Amazon and Google testing ways to deliver packages by drone, corporate job openings in this field are an inevitability (future drone pilots are already enrolling at “Unmanned Vehicle” specialty schools). By 2040, they’ll need be regulated by an air traffic system similar to what airplane pilots use, Flombaum predicts.

“The same way that air traffic controllers monitor planes, we’re going to want someone coordinating, monitoring, and instructing drones,” he says.

Augmented Reality Designer

Some industries, like marketing and retail, have already taped AR designers to createinteractive experiences for consumers.

But soon, augmented reality — which combines computer-generated images with physical ones — will hit the mainstream. By 2040, the engineers, architects, and UX designers who work with this technology will be a hot commodity in the job market and they’ll drive everything from job training to marketing billboards, according to Flombaum.

“Virtual reality and augmented reality is still very nascent, the job growth for the designers and programmers who create these experiences will be massive,” he says.

Micro Gig Agents

As the gig economy expands, independent consultants will work alongside a growing number of independent contractors, says Christie Lindor, a management consultant and host of the MECE Muse Unplugged podcast.

Lindor calls these people “reinventionists” and “micro gig agents,” and says they’ll act like talent agents, tasked with helping freelancers find and market their projects.

“People will have contractual ‘micro’ projects of varying lengths of time instead of the full time, permanent jobs of today,” she says. “A lot of people will need significant assistance navigating a new landscape.”


The Case for Getting Married Young

It can be beneficial to make marriage the cornerstone, rather than the capstone, of your adult life.

Source: The Case for Getting Married Young


A compelling case can be made for the advantages, particularly for college-educated women, of delaying marriage until after the mid-twenties, as Eleanor Barkhorn recently wrote here. As a math-phobic English professor, I’m not one to wrestle with statistics, but I believe a robust case can be made, alternatively, for young marriage.

There are costs to delaying marriage, a phenomenon that has reached a new threshold, with the average age of marriage for men reaching the historic high of 29 and women 27. New research from Knot Yet, a project that explores the benefits and costs of delayed marriage in America, points to some of the risks of waiting so long to marry. While delayed marriage does have economic benefits for college educated women and is credited with bringing down the overall divorce rate, the news isn’t all good:

  • While men and women are waiting longer to marry, they aren’t waiting quite so long to have children. The average age at which a woman first gives birth (25.7) is now earlier than the average age of first marriage (26.5), a phenomenon Knot Yet calls “The Great Crossover” and which brings with it all of the well-documented concerns that surround the rearing of children outside of wedlock.
  • Unmarried twenty-somethings are more likely to be depressed, drink excessively, and report lower levels of satisfaction than their married counterparts. For example 35 percent of unmarried men say they are “highly satisfied” with their lives compared to 52 percent of married men; among the women that report being “highly satisfied” with their lives, 29 percent are cohabitating, 33 percent are single, and 47 percent are married.

Of course, the basis for marriage has changed considerably over the course of history, and the changes in the ages at which people marry merely reflect these shifting foundations. For much of human history, marriage was based on economic expediency, its purpose being political and financial maintenance or gain. Then in the modern age, as an outgrowth of the Protestant Reformation and its emphasis on the individual, the ideal of the companionate marriage arose. The basis of the companionate marriage was neither “romantic love” (a la the Arthurian legends and Romeo and Juliet) nor economic and political expediency. Its foundation was a “reasonable love” that made two people well-matched partners (companions) for marriage, one which carried with it obligations including, but also going beyond, the temporal realm of the private household. Central to the companionate model of marriage was the revolutionary idea that a woman should have a choice in whom she married because of the indelible role her husband would have on her faith practice for the rest of her life. Influential Christian writers such as Daniel Defoe and Samuel Richardson advanced this model of marriage in their works, effectively popularizing the idea of women choosing their marriage partners for themselves so as to wisely fulfill their Christian vocation in marriage.

Of course, the social and religious motivations behind these models of marriage have been in decline for some time. As Derek Thompson described here recently, there is now less economic incentive to marry than ever before. The religious framework for marriage is also crumbling. Marriage has become, therefore, to use Thompson’s apt term, “hedonistic,” based on the exponential amount of pleasure—material, emotional, sexual, familial, you name it—that can be derived from the coupling of two individuals.

Under the hedonistic model of marriage, it makes sense to stay single long enough to accumulate the things that can be brought into an eventual union as a kind of experiential dowry. Knot Yet’s study confirms this:

Young adults are taking longer to finish their education and stabilize their work lives. Culturally, young adults have increasingly come to see marriage as a “capstone” rather than a “cornerstone”—that is, something they do after they have all their other ducks in a row, rather than a foundation for launching into adulthood and parenthood.

Interestingly, in a 2009 report, sociologist Mark Regnerus found that much of the pressure to delay marriage comes from parents who encourage their children to finish their education before marrying. One student told him that her parents “want my full attention on grades and school.” But such advice reflects an outdated reality, one in which a college degree was almost a guarantee of a good job that would be held for a lifetime. This is no longer the case. Furthermore, with so many students graduating from college with knee-buckling debt, they have worse than nothing to bring into a marriage. Indeed, prolonged singledom has become a rolling stone, gathering up debt and offspring that, we can imagine, will manifest themselves in years to come in more broken, or never-realized, marriages.

Looking back over a marriage of nearly three decades, I am thankful that I married before going down that road. Now as a college-educated, doctorate-holding woman, I can attest that marrying young (at age 19) was most beneficial: to me, to my husband, and to the longevity of our marriage. Our achievements have come, I am convinced, not despite our young marriage, but because of it.

Our marriage was, to use Knot Yet’s terminology, a “cornerstone” not a “capstone.” Once that cornerstone was set during the semester break of my sophomore year of college, I transformed from a party girl into a budding scholar. I earned my college degree then two graduate degrees. My husband made music, built things, earned a teaching certificate, and became a teacher and coach. We lived in several towns, two states, countless apartments (and—for six long weeks, a relative’s basement), owned a junkyard’s worth of beat-up cars (including two, not one, but two Pacers), and held down numerous jobs on our way to financial and social stability. We were poor in those early years. Not food stamps poor, but poor enough to be given groceries by our church without having asked. The church gave us $200 once, too (which is exactly what that second Pacer cost). We held down terrible jobs and then got better ones. Like all couples, we worked and played and worshipped and prayed and travelled and fought together. And sometimes apart. We planned and prepared for children that naughtily never came. We offered our home instead to needy animals and stray college students, and eventually to my own aging parents. It was not the days of ease that made our marriage stronger and happier: it was working through the difficult parts. We learned to luxuriate in the quotidian, to take wonder in the mundane, skills that have become even more valuable in our prosperous years. We invested the vigor of our youth not in things to bring into the marriage, but in each other and our marriage.

I don’t present my story as some sort of textbook case of the exception that breaks the rule. Indeed I know of many marriages more like than unlike ours. The research cited here, as well as the example of my marriage and many others, points to a model of marriage that is more than the sum of two selves, and at the same time advances both individual and societal good by transcending procreative, economic, and hedonistic purposes. Such a model of marriage reflects the conclusion Regnerus drew from his research,

Marriage actually works best as a formative institution, not an institution you enter once you think you’re fully formed. We learn marriage, just as we learn language, and to the teachable, some lessons just come easier earlier in life.

It’s important, of course, that people enter into marriage with some level of maturity and self-possession, for one’s own sake and that of the other person. But the greatest gift of marriage—even beyond financial security, children, or career success (because for some, these may never come)—is the formation that occurs through the give and take of living in lifelong communion with another.

KAREN SWALLOW PRIOR is a professor of English at Liberty University and a research fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. She is the author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me and Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More.