In Replacing Guilt, Nate Soares articulates a framework for seeing the world as it is and taking effective action — without putting half your work into beating yourself up.
Say you’re a college student, and you have a paper due. The quality of the paper will depend upon the amount of effort you put in. We can imagine a scale where points further to the right represent higher letter grades.
The slackers fail to deploy their full strength because they realize that the quality line is not their preference curve.
The triers deploy their full strength at the wrong target, in attempts to go as far right as possible, wasting energy on a fight that is not theirs.
So take the third path: remember what you’re fighting for. Always deploy your full strength, in order to hit your quality target as fast as possible.
What is your goal in taking this class? Perhaps you want good grades so you can acquire lots of money and power which you will use to fight dragons. Perhaps you’re there to learn. No matter why you’re there, your reason for being there will pick out a single target point on the quality line. Your goal, then, is to hit that quality target — no lower, and no higher.
Half-ass everything, with everything you’ve got.