What you probably didn’t know about doing little things

Over half of the US population uses supplements. Every year that number increases. Interestingly, there’s no correlation of improvement to public health.

Why is that? Is it that supplements don’t work?

No. Looking deeper, what researchers found is that when someone takes a supplement, say a multi-vitamin, they make a mental “check” that they’ve done their bit of good for their body for the day. Then, when mealtime comes, they justify unhealthy decisions. Or when it comes time to exercise, they don’t feel so bad waving it off.

This is a sweeping psychological problem inhibiting real life progress.

We often do small, simple tasks, which have relatively little real impact, to justify putting off substantial tasks of critical value. We get a false sense of progress. We appease our emotions by doing what’s easy, and not what’s important.

There are real barriers surrounding the big tasks—whether it’s ambiguity, time, difficulty, or fear. Little tasks mean little risks, but the bigger tasks are the ones that really need to be done.

So if you want to succeed in life, you need to buck up and do the work.


(P.S. I recommend Steven Pressfield’s new book Do The Work, which is a practical walkthrough of getting the right stuff done. Even better, right now it’s free!)

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4 Responses

  1. Once again, sage advice from one who knows from experience. Hope all is well with you and your family. We miss your frequent posts. You must be busy!

  2. Isn’t this blog post a tautology?

    So you’re saying by taking a supplement or vitamin in the morning, people justify poor food choices later in the day.

    But then you also say, we aren’t getting any healthier despite the use of supplements, thereby implying that before supplements, we ate healthier to offset the lack of a vitatmin?

    So you are talking out of both sides of your mouth. You “why aren’t we getting healthier with all these supplements,” but then go on to say that we ARE, but we just now eat worse food to offset it.

    Also – since when did supplement switch meanings with “enhancement.” It’s supplementing something, not necessarily making it better or enhancing it.

    From your article it looks like you’re drawing a meaningless tautology from something for no other reason than to make a blog post chiding people for not exercising and eating right? You never claim we used to be healthier, but just that supplement hasn’t made us MORE healthy than years past.

    Also – you seem to not understand the difference between causation and correlation. And, your link to the “psychology today” article is non existent.

    Writing this comment was a small, simple task, and it made me feel alot better.

  3. I absolutely agree with your blog post Rusty. Not a “Tautology” in any sense. Clark, have you carefully read the definition of a Tautology?

    I do believe that for certain uninformed people (that are that way simply because of the mass confusion that all of these supplement companies are able to create) that supplements and vitamins do, for many, promote a false sense of progress. There are numerous articles highlighting findings that supplements do very little for our overall health. But I can see that your main point here is that it is easy to pop a few multivitamins and have a sense of “good health” for doing so. That we do little things to avoid doing that the things that have a real impact. Have I ever taken a “greens” supplement to avoid eating fruits and veggies all day? YES! Is the greens supplement sufficient enough? No…because it is simply that, a supplement to what I should already be doing.

    Thanks for another great post! You were able to convey the exact thoughts I have had very eloquently.

    Clark you can read the point that Rusty reiterated in the Psychological Science study link found below. None of what you read above were his own claims that you quickly attacked him for. They are backed up by real studies so take a read:


    Jenny Heffernan
    Toronto, Ontario

  4. Boy, Rusty, you nailed me!! “Buck up and do the work. ” By the time I get my meds taken in the morning, I think I’ve done enough to last the whole day –and often act like it!! I’m often getting very little done the rest of the day. Thanks for the attention –getter. By the way, congratulations on your book, your webpage –gosh, you’ve been busy!!

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