Here’s a really insightful article that’s tearing up LiveJournal right now: How to Create a Sick System. If you’ve ever been stuck in a crappy job or relationship, you should read this.
How do you pin [your lover or your employee] to your side, irrevocably, permanently, and perfectly legally?
You create a sick system.
A sick system has four basic rules…
Reward intermittently. Intermittent gratification is the most addictive kind there is.
If you know the lever will always produce a pellet, you’ll push it only as often as you need a pellet.
If you know it never produces a pellet, you’ll stop pushing.
But if the lever sometimes produces a pellet and sometimes doesn’t, you’ll keep pushing forever, even if you have more than enough pellets (because what if there’s a dry run and you have no pellets at all?).
It’s the motivation behind gambling, collectible cards, most video games, the Internet itself, and relationships with crazy people.
Intermittent rewards, oh man. This really struck a chord with me. As an actor, my whole career is a string of small “tries” that produce intermittent rewards. Lots of auditions = lots of nothing + some callbacks + some small parts + very occasional amazing parts that I’m either really proud of or extremely well paid for (or both). So of course I keep pushing the lever; sometimes the pellet is that I get to be in a movie. Basically, being an actor is like making your living by sitting at a slot machine.