The Longer You Build Something — The Harder It Will Be To Destroy
Social media makes us forget about this truth. Here’s what to do about it.
But while there’s so much talk online about the negative aspects of social media related to feeling overwhelmed or society, most articles fail to address an important topic — social media makes us less successful.
You Have One Brain
It’s obvious, but we forget.
Think about it. When you use social media, you program your brain for short-term dopamine feedback loops. All the claps, followers, like — our brain assumes that these things are real. They feel good. We become addicted to them, and it forces us to come back and check our social media accounts compulsively.
When you post waffles on your Instagram, you wire your brain for super fast feedback. And it’s the same brain you use to build your business, career, or relationships.
This is why, when you log out and come back to “real life,” where you have to pay the bills, save money, become successful, build a career, lose weight, build muscles — all the things that take time — we have cognitive dissonance.
“Why is this taking so long?!” we scream.
Then we stress out and, to feel better, we log straight back in, reading stories about 19-year-old millionaires.
This makes us jealous, and we tell ourselves, “Ok. That’s enough. From now on, I will wake up at 5 AM, journal for two hours, do yoga, meditate, read, listen to podcasts, drink green smoothies, work out, write, hustle, grind, run, tweet, ‘work on my personal brand’, and have sex only on holidays.”
Wait. Who said anything about sex? Nevermind.
The point is, we forget that things in “real life” take time. We don’t notice it, but we subconsciously reprogram our brains with social media and Amazon Prime one-day deliveries to expect things fast.
We also forget that it’s actually good that some things take time…
Slow Is Good
The famous VC and founder of Social Capital, Chamath Palihapitiya said, “The speed at which you build anything is also its half-life.”
This means that if something takes one year to build, it will also take one year to destroy. If something takes five years to build, you will have to take five years to destroy it.
This insight is key for entrepreneurship, creativity, and life. And by chasing the “next thing” — as social media pushes us to do — we rid ourselves of benefiting from it.
Back in the early 2000s, my grandmother and my dad started the first accounting firm in Russia. Nobody even knew the words “accounting firm” back then — it was post-USSR, so the financial markets have just appeared a few years back.
Fast forward twenty years, to today, my grandmother is 66 and she is still working on that business. It’s bringing almost no new clients (the competition is tough), but she doesn’t need to.
She has been building that business for so long that she can afford to sit back and watch it slowly glide, like a plane whose engines were turned off in mid-air.
When I look at the fact that Medium is sending me $1,000+ checks every month, I feel proud of myself. I know that I’ve earned it through hard work. Last month, I didn’t write as much as I used to, but I still made a good income — because of the momentum I’ve built by writing every single day for the past 365 days.
If you do anything for five years, you will have gained so much momentum, you won’t even need to look for clients or sell yourself anymore. This works almost everywhere.
When I was building my video production business, it took me three years to get to the point when we didn’t have to look for clients anymore — they found us.
And the more they write, the more viral articles they will write, the more assets they will have.
Takeaway: the longer you stay at something, the harder it will be for you to fail. Yet, when your brain is thinking in short-term cycles, you fail to take advantage of this incredible law of nature.
The obvious question you might have is, “Well, ok. What the fuck should I do with this information?”
And I am glad you’ve asked it so politely.
Psychologists say it’s possible to reprogram our brains.
We can literally build new neuropathways — thus, becoming better humans. In What To Say When We Talk To Ourselves, Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D., writes that the key trait of the human brain is its neuroplasticity.
In other words, we can literally “reprogram” ourselves to think, act, and different.
But let’s go back to success.
All good things in life happen when you’re patient. When you focus on the process and dedicate long stretches of time, when you put in the famous 10,000 hours, you’ll need to reprogram your brain to think long-term if you want to benefit from this.
And the way to reprogram your brain is to get rid of all short-term gratification bullshit.
Quit sugar, social media, masturbation, spending money, getting into debt. Instead, eat veggies, read books, have sex with your significant other, save money, and invest.
Social media makes us less successful because it negatively affects our neuropathways. It’s a drug. And just as future wealth belongs to those who can control their money, the future success belongs to those who can manage their attention.
In the world of abundance and speed, go the opposite direction: minimalism and slow living. After all, debt, feeling overwhelmed, and obesity — are all about the same thing: uncontrollable consumption.
Remember, you have only one brain. What you do in one part of life affects your other parts as well.