On sale at book places. Learn more.

The long slog

Different modes of work.

There are different modes of “work”. Here are a few of them.

  1. Introspection. Finding yourself.
  2. Exploration. Finding everything else.
  3. Goal-making. Based on values found during introspection.
  4. Strategy-making. Hypotheses about how to achieve your goals.
  5. Experimentation. Trying things. Playing. Iterating.
  6. Finding fit. Person/universe fit.
  7. Slogging. Executing. Doing the work.

An industry of self-help, productivity gurus, and therapists has sprouted around each of these modes of work. Much to their benefit.

Each of these modes require different parts of our brains. Different brainwave lengths. Different moods. Different states of mind.

Each of us excel at certain modes and suck at others.

Each mode is strongest when the others are also at their strongest. We must develop each of these modes in parallel. It’s all one big positive feedback loop / Catch-22 / bootstrap.

Neglecting one mode will indirectly cause other modes to suffer.

The first six modes are inputs.

The last mode is the only true output.

We’ll be judged in the world by our output. Therefore, some people place a lot of emphasis on the 7th mode (see pg’s schlep post for a masterful articulation). It’s the fruit of your labor. But the labor itself is actually not the slog. 10,000 hours go into preparing for the slog. The slog without preparation is chasing after the wind. The slog with preparation is flow.

You can’t express until you’ve explored. The best way to explore is to begin expressing.

The long slog, the thing that feels like way too much painful effort in the beginning becomes the only reward.

Added to the Behavior Change pile.
February 19, 2013

Buster Benson (@buster) is a writer and builder of things. If you're new here, check the about page or see my entire life on a page.


Join my newsletter to get updates about my book and analysis of bias and unproductive disagreements in the wild. Browse the archive first, to get a feel.


I'm not great at email but I'm not the worst either. My DMs are open on Twitter as well.