Weekly Video: Barbell Shrugged Podcast with Tim Ferriss

A few weeks ago, Barbell Shrugged interviewed Tim Ferriss, and a topic came up that resonated with me, which I have brought up in a handful of conversations since. As a result,  I thought it would be a good idea to document it here.


The segment is only about two minutes, check it out below:
When humans try to learn new things, we often take on more than we can handle, which Tim refers to as “adopting too many new behaviors at once.” Once we try adopting too many behaviors, decision fatigue kicks in ultimately leading to us stopping whatever it was we were excited to pickup.


Some additional points Tim made when considering taking on something new:


  • Is going to be efficient? – Do you have the time to do?
  • Is it going to be effective? – Will it help achieve established goals?
  • Can you adhere? – Can you continue to do it so that over time it becomes a behavior you are mindlessly performing.
Bonus: once we are at a point where we are mindlessly performing, we can begin to add new things.  


I realized I have fallen into this trap on a handful of occasions over the last 3 or so years. Below are some examples:

Reading – I was reading the first 50 pages of every book I picked up. It was not helping me learn anything new from the book and I was not feeling much sense of accomplishment by not finishing anything. To fix this, I made reading part of my night time routine 3-4 nights during the week and tackling about 20-40 pages at a time. I never let myself pick up a new book unless the one I am on is complete.

Cooking – I had no clue what I was doing in this area for a while. I would go to the grocery store with very little direction of what to get and decision fatigue would kick in well before I started cooking. Today – I have a pretty solid process down which I will share at some point. I have been able to add – what I view as – more complex recipes like Chilli. (Thanks to a Chilli Cook-Off at work for the nudge to learn).

Photography – I still need to make time for this one. I think I have picked up my SLR camera under 10 times since I got it 3 years ago.

  • Dan

    Great to see this in print as it provides a mirror of what I too go through.
    I have to let go of my 6 steps ahead and hopefully only 5 steps back philosophy since its proven too often not to work.
    I’m moving ahead with making more incremental changes in my life.