What you want to have eaten vs. what you want to eat: Peter Bregman’s Buffet Problem

Dan Heath’s interview with Peter Bregman nicely describes the disconnect between what we want to have done (made progress on our creative projects, spent quality time with family, jogged a few miles for exercise, etc.) and what we want to do (check our email, veg out with TV, etc.). Much like a lunch buffet presenting us with a variety of food options, life constantly confronts us with different kinds of activities we could do. This analogy provides some helpful perspective on the competition between long-term interests (stay healthy with fiber and nutrients from vegetables) and short-term desires (gratify our palates with cheese-covered Tater Tots).

From there, the conversation heads into deeper examination of this disconnect and simple, effective strategies to remedy it, interweaving ideas from Switch and Decisive. If you’re familiar with those excellent books on behavioral change and decision making, I think you’ll appreciate the helpful context they add to the discussion—the amazingly effective Rider, Elephant, Path metaphor for behavior is once again incredibly useful. Overall, it’s a great 30 minutes of dissecting the problems and considering solutions.

If you’re looking a way to stay focused on achieving large, important goals and minimizing time lost to less pressing activities (avoiding the perils of what Todd Henry calls “fake work”), give this interview a listen!

decisive ball