This is a short note from my Roam Research second brain. Here’s a free guide where I introduce you to Roam & Building A Second Brain. 

Metadata of Note

Type: 🍃 Leaf [Nomenclature present here.]

Source: Article by Derek Sivers

Tags: #productivity #personalhabits

Date: June 14th, 2022


Sivers’ idea of overcompensation

You have something you want to change: a thought process or habit you want to fix.


Let’s use the metaphor of a bunch of bricks on a seesaw. Right now all the bricks are stacked on one side. This is the way you have been.




To make a change, most people don’t do enough.


If you do something small and sensible, it’s like moving one brick to the other side. You’re still unbalanced.




You think you made the change, but it’s not accounting for:

  • a lifetime of doing it the other way,
  • the environment that made you that way, and
  • the pressure from friends to stay that way.


To make a change, you have to be extreme. Go all the way the other way. It will feel like overcompensating, but you have to stack a huge pile of bricks on the other side.



This new you sounds extreme and exciting. You’ll think you’re going to be completely changed.


But actually, the old stuff is still there. So really this is what you needed to do to balance — to compensate for that cultural baggage, self-identity, habit, and history.


Once you’re balanced, the new perspective will sink in and become your new normal.

My thoughts

Rishabh was the one who first told me about this, sometime in late 2021. I even found the following from my journal on October 16th, 2021

As I am writing this, I am seeing a pattern in myself, which is very helpful to be aware of. Perhaps my default state is to focus on the here and now… and as Rishabh said on a call, “try to act opposite to your default state, so you can reach a middle ground.” Something I will be mindful of from now.

Interestingly, he had told me about this before he himself read this article on overcompensation.

I know one of my default states is to want immediate feedback on something I’m working on. And this need for it pops up often as I’m working on Escaping Autopilot. At those times, I tell myself to be patient, be okay with a longer feedback loop, and also remind myself that everything I am doing is building the house, brick by brick. (unless of course, it’s not, which is a different topic)

Another default state of mine is to force structure onto things I am working on. When Rajesh told me to let go of the table of contents a few weeks ago, for a split second I was opposed to it. But by watching myself be opposed, I realized, “I have to do it, just to go against my default state.”

So this concept of “overcompensation” or “going against the default” certainly helps.

I’m just suspicious of how often Derek Sivers implements this in his life — and how he does so. Personally, I find it more helpful to be aware of my default states and catch when it shows up in situations, and then ask myself, “Is this going to help me or hurt me in this situation?”