I’m always looking to improve and learn new things. Right now one such thing is the Spanish language and so when I recently walked past a stall with books on different languages I quickly picked up two good candidates.
This time it didn’t take long before I realized my mistake and subsequently put them down. Really, what I needed wasn’t more information and tools. What I needed was to dedicate more time and form processes to actually sit down and study.
I often do this mistake and it’s a fundamental concept in behaviour economics; replacing one type of cost with another. In this case trying to trade hours of mental effort studying, with spending a few bucks in the book store.
Another typical case is buying new, fancy sports clothes rather than putting in the sweat and strain. Or spending hours talking about your new, cool idea instead of actually executing it.
As humans we naturally seek the path of least resistance. This is a good thing — why waste effort when you don’t need to? We just need to be observant of our inevitable cost replacements and take care not to fool ourselves thinking we’re making progress when we’re actually just avoiding required work.