Why Never Focusing on Achieving Goals Helped Me Get More Things Done - The Backwards Law

This is the secret to actually achieving your goals as well as keeping your New Year’s resolutions -- 
and why hyper-obsessing over them achieves the opposite.  This is also what horror games taught me about.

The 2nd Friday of January is lovingly called Quitter’s Day. 

This year it's Friday the 13th.

Quitting isn't always bad as most people think though -- but that's for a future post.

There are plenty of reasons why people fail to meet their goals and also keep their New Year's Resolutions. But according to research, the leading cause is: 

Lack of Willpower. 

If we dig further as to why we lose willpower over time -- and worse, even motivation -- we strongly resonate with one (or more) of the following:

  • Goal seems impossible
  • Not enough time
  • Not enough energy (I still struggle with this from time to time)
  • Priorities changed
  • Little or no reward either emotionally or financially (having at least one of them is very important)
  • Little comparative advantage (not lucky enough with the cards dealt)

Whenever I lose my sh*t and succumb to burnout, I look back at how I've accomplished certain things but not the ones I've currently actively set to do.

Breathe - Angel Cards

I went swimming before sleeping (I always feel sleepy after any workout, so now I do it right before bed), and reminisced about how I almost drowned when I was in high school, trying to keep myself afloat in one of our PE classes, until I learned the crucial life saving technique of doing back float.

Legs paddling but still sinking and body not staying afloat for too long?

Back float.

Quickly running out of breath doing butterfly?

Back float.

Didn't drink enough water and a foot starts to cramp?

Yep. Back float.

As I relaxed and stared at the clouds, that's when it hits me:

We lose willpower and don't achieve goals, not because we don't work hard enough.

We lose willpower and don't achieve goals because we try too hard.

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I. The Backwards Law or Wu Wei

The Backwards Law or Wu Wei

I wanted to finish cleansing haunted homes in Ghost Exile as quickly as I could because: 


But the more I tried hard and rushed doing things, the more I simply ended up squealing for my damn life instead of exorcising ghosts and demons in these homes.

Here we go again...

Trying too hard can actually be detrimental to our success. This is where the concept of going with the Flow, or Wu Wei, comes in.

Wu Wei is popularly known as the Backwards Law.

“To the rationally minded, the mental processes of the intuitive appear to work backwards. His conclusions are reached before his premises. This is not because the steps which connect the two have been omitted, but because those steps are taken by the unconscious.”
― Frances G. Wickes, psychologist and author

Wu Wei means “effortless action” and it’s the heart of Taoist philosophy about living in harmony with the flow of life instead of fighting against the natural laws of the Universe.

And worse, harming your well-being.

“The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed. Proficiency and the results of proficiency come only to those who have learned the paradoxical art of doing and not doing, or combining relaxation with activity, of letting go as a person in order that the immanent and transcendent unknown quantity may take hold.” - Aldous Huxley, philosopher who defined Wu Wei as the Law of Reverse Effort.

When we try too hard, we often become frustrated and overwhelmed. 

Our efforts become focused on the outcome rather than on the process, which can lead to burnout and, ultimately, quitting. 

On the other hand, when we take a Wu Wei approach, we are able to stay focused on the present and leverage our strengths in order to achieve our goals.

The moment I conditioned myself to relax, manage my fear and just do things slowly and carefully -- aside from reminding myself why I bought this game lol --  I started to actually enjoy playing it, especially since this game made me feel like some extra in Jujutsu Kaisen, or Witch Hunter Robin herself with all those badass sigils and everything.

Note: Actual gameplay to follow here soon (once we finish editing it lol).

And I succeeded in banishing the ghosts haunting those homes!

Granted, I just played the beginner levels because there's money and items management included in the game mechanics as well so all the more I had to push through and not randomly chicken out.

Else, I'll lose whatever items I brought. Since I won't earn anything from quitting a case, I won't even be able to buy items anymore for the next case.

It's hardcore.

Just like real life lol.

The best part is every time I succeed in it, I feel a boost of inspiration like I can accomplish anything -- anything I set my mind and heart to: in real life.

I guess that's what draws me into horror games in general (aside from the thrill lol).

Wu Wei encourages us to tap into the power of our subconscious mind, not force anything, and just go with the flow. 

See where it leads us. 

“Wu Wei is based on the knowledge of the tide. The drift of things. Wu Wei is the art of sailing rather than the art of rowing.” - Alan Watts, a philosopher, writer, and one of the pioneers in interpreting Eastern ideas to a western audience.

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II. How I Applied Wu Wei in My Life

Aside from successfully completing certain exorcism quests in Ghost Exile as an example above, I’ve also benefited from the power of Wu Wei in a lot of aspects of my personal life, and here are some of them.

A. Physical

Years ago, I regularly attended pole lessons and high-intensity training because I wanted to become like Greta Pontarelli, the 70+-year-old pole art champion and ex-gymnast I admire a lot.

I got extremely lucky to meet her in person and join one of her classes back in 2013. She seems intimidating at first, but she's actually very sweet, humble, and of course very inspiring

But I also had this secret goal: trim my waistline and get a flat stomach.

I didn't even aim for abs. 

That's too much.

I worked out so hard. Though I enjoyed my pole classes, I even went far and beyond other workout routines and got myself hospitalized one time. 

But guess what happened? I got everything except what I was aiming for.

Until I did a 180 turn in my lifestyle -- and that includes finally quitting a career I never liked (after fully accepting that achieving the day-to-day lifestyle I want is actually impossible on that path), to finally doing what I really wanted to do despite the odds, and living the kind of lifestyle I really want. 

Back in 2015

Now (please focus on Kermit lol)

I may be working out a lot back then, but I was stress-eating a whole lot more too. I also had a very erratic sleeping schedule which led to my hormones getting whack, worsening skin problems, and building up more and more of the visceral you-know-what that I was trying so hard to minimize.

Not only did I get the trimmed waistline and flat belly I wanted, but my skin also healed and the acne scars faded over time.

That did NOT happen overnight though. It took several freaking years. There are relapses too from time to time but it didn't matter.

I learned not to focus on fitness and beauty goals anymore. I'm after loving myself and actually living a healthy, happy lifestyle. 

B. Psychological

I’ve also witnessed the magic of Wu Wei in trading.

Doing my research and studying my charts help a lot in seeing the current overall picture of the market. However, trading is actually more of a psychology game.

The more I forced myself to make money from my trades while following my checklist to the T, ironically, the more unprepared I felt and resistant I get to surprises in the market.

Hence, losses.

When I just Wu Wei and go where the market wants me to go, especially when I trade near New York closing aka “drunk” 3am trading, I get wins I never even expected.

Too bad I moved my SL up to 18k-ish and got hit in the volatility following the release of the latest CPI report. Very conservative gains, but a win is still a win. My TP is actually 26k so I might FOMO.. or not. Got a weird feeling about impending surprises (hinted by Uranus in astrology on the 22nd).

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The same thing goes with content creation. People think it's easy. Long-time Youtubers for example, disagree.

The more I've jam-packed my schedule, overestimating the realistic time I would finish each task, the more exhausted I've become without even having anything to show for it because a lot of them are WIP. 

Up to this day, I'm still in the process of finishing them and clearing my backlogs.

The more I force myself to aim for consistency in uploads, the more I feel pressured and don't get anything completed. 

It's like being a frozen deer in headlights.

I miss the time way back when I managed to upload way more stuff: posts, videos, social media content, Sims 4 mods, 3d art -- and recently there's music and webcomics added in the mix too -- with all that just-for-fun attitude.

Not all of them have turned profitable yet because they're still new (i.e. 3d and webcomics), but the rest, it still blows my mind to this day how they opened new doors for me and even helped me manifest the passive income I wanted.

Now if I want to scale things up and grow, I need to tap into that carefree version of myself again.

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