How I Motivate Myself

1) Thinking about myself as having an identical twin except she’s really productive and my master. The imaginary twin sees me watching True Blood and goes, “What are you doing? This is why you’re inferior to me and I’m in charge of you. Go finish your work! Maybe afterwards you can watch 30 Rock for 30 minutes. I’ve been doing air squats and kettle bell swings while you’ve been sitting there.”

2) Thinking about the person I want to be and working towards becoming more like that person. For example, I’d like being wise to be part of my identity. But I do stupid things all the time. Quandary! Can I read books or talk to smarter people to try to close the gap between my goal identity and my actual identity? How do I figure out a plan that makes me more like the wise person I want to be?

3) Thinking about myself as one instance out of many (potentially infinite) instances of me existing in parallel universes and wanting to compete with the other Nancy’s, in particular wanting to outperform Superposition Nancy. How embarrassing would it be to meet these other Nancy’s one day in a Jet Li-type “The One” situation and be way weaker and thus immediately annihilated?

4) Thinking about how glad I am not to have been born in the 9th century or in Sudan, or even 50 years ago. It’s a miracle I exist at all since my Chinese parents never touched (ever). Basically despite being born to a poor graduate student and a teacher, I feel born into privilege: everything my ancestors did for millennia led to… creating me! I’m basically the result of centuries of breeding. “With great power comes great responsibility,” etc.

Reading back over what I just wrote, I’ve never heard anyone else talk about thinking in this way, so maybe I’m crazy. Whatever, this all reminds me of the guy in Fight Club, except we appear to have (hopefully) skipped the psychotic break, etc.

Quora: How do I get my life back on track?