An excerpt from The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, pages 225-227.

“Even before I tasted it, I knew something wasn’t quite right. After eight hours in the refrigerator, this cheesecake still hadn’t set at all. It swished in the gallon bowl like a viscous soup, chunks shifting and bobbing as I tilted it under close inspection. Somewhere a mistake had been made. It could have been any number of things:

Three 1 lb. sticks of Philly Cream Cheese
Unflavored gelatin
Sour cream

In this case, it was probably a combination of things and the lack of a few simple ingredients that generally make cheesecake a form of cake.

I was on a no-carbohydrate diet, and I had used this recipe before. It had been so delicious that my roommates wanted their fair share and insisted on an attempt at bulk production. Hence began the mathematical shenanigans and problems. Before Splenda and other miracles of sugar imitation came on the scene, the hard core used stevia, an herb 300 times sweeter than sugar. One drop was like 300 packets of sugar. It was a delicate tool and I wasn’t a delicate cook. I had once made a small handful of cookies using baking soda instead of baking powder, and that was bad enough to drive my roommates to puke on the lawn. This new masterpiece made the cookies look like fine dining: It tasted like liquid cream cheese mixed with cold water and about 600 packets of sugar.

I then did what any normal and rational person would do: I grabbed the largest soup ladle with a sigh and sat down in front of the TV to face my punishment. I had wasted an entire Sunday and a boatload of ingredients- it was time to reap what I had sown. One hour and 20 large spoonfuls later, I hadn’t made a dent in the enormous batch of soup, but I was down for the count. Not only could I not eat anything but soup for two days, I couldn’t bring myself to even look at cheesecake, previously my favorite dessert, for more than four years.

Stupid? Of course. It’s about as stupid as one can get. This is a ridiculous and micro example of what people do on a larger scale with jobs all the time: self-imposed suffering that can be avoided. Sure, I learned a lesson and paid for the mistake.

The real question is: for what?

There are two types of mistakes: mistakes of ambition and mistakes of sloth.

The first is the result of a decision to act: to do something. This type of mistake is made with incomplete information, as it’s impossible to have all the facts beforehand. This is to be encouraged. Fortune favors the bold.

The second is the result of a decision of sloth: to not do something, wherein we refuse to change a bad situation out of fear despite having all the facts. This is how learning experiences become terminal punishments, bad relationships become bad marriages, and poor job choices become lifelong prison sentences.

“Yeah, but what if I’m in an industry where jumping around is looked down upon? I’ve been here barely a year, and prospective employers would think …”

Would they? Test assumptions before condemning yourself to more misery. I’ve seen one determinant of sex appeal to good employers: performance. If you are a rock star when it comes to results it doesn’t matter if you jump ship from a bad company after three weeks. On the other hand, if tolerating a punishing work environment for years at a time is a prerequisite for promotion in your field, could it be that you’re in a game not worth winning?

The consequences of bad decisions do not get better with age.
What cheesecake are you eating?”

Source: The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss.

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