Why your fears are holding you back, the dangers of multitasking, and the power of sympatheia

Building Blocks: Actionable insights to build an Intentional Life

Hey everybody,

Here’s another batch of actionable insights to start your week off right, so you can be more intentional with how you live, work, and create.

Let’s get started.

Insight 1: Your fears are holding you back

Chris Williamson is a deep thinker who asks nuanced questions with powerful implications on his podcast, Modern Wisdom.

His guests include household names like:

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Dr. Michael Gervais
  • Dr. Jordan Peterson
  • Tyler Cowen

And now…me.

It was surreal being on Chris’s podcast, but I had a blast.

We went deep on:

  • Why fear holds us back from reaching our potential
  • What causes self-sabotaging behaviors
  • How to overcome both

And much more.

Check it out here:

Or on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Insight 2: Stop task-switching

What most people call “multitasking” is actually “task-switching.”

You’re not simultaneously doing multiple things (what psychologists call parallel processing), you’re quickly switching between different tasks.

This constant switching increases your cognitive load, meaning the more you do it, the more it siphons brain power.

It’s why minimizing distractions and interruptions is critical to getting shit done.

But knowledge workers are constantly task-switching throughout the day.

In this interview, Fast Company speaks with Professor Gloria Mark about research on task-switching.

“We found people [task-switched] on average every three minutes and five seconds.”

Roughly half these were self-interruptions, meaning they constantly checked apps, switched tabs, and allowed their mind to wander aimlessly.

One of the most intriguing research findings is how task-switching relates to Parkinson’s Law:

“When people know they can expect interruption they get into a mode of working faster to compensate. You know you’re going to be continually interrupted so you compensate by working faster, but the cost of that is stress.”

Knowledge workers are especially susceptible to the negative consequences of constant task-switching.

The irony is that knowledge work relies on your ability to get into a flow state and do deep work, but task-switching prevents this.

How many times in the last hour have you gotten distracted, checked a different tab, Googled some random thing, or checked a text message?

If you want to dive deeper into the importance of being intentional with your time, energy, and attention, check out full the article.

Insight 3: The power of mutual interdependence

Questions like these come up often in coaching:

  • “What’s the purpose of our business? What are we ultimatley trying to achieve?”
  • “How do I figure out my Core Value?”
  • “What does an Intentional Life mean to me?”

For most people (and businesses), the road to clarity starts with selfish motivations: money, influence, time freedom, etc.

But if you go down that road far enough, your motivations inevitably shift from selfish to selfless.


Because a fulfilling life or business involves helping others.

The Stoics figured this out thousands of years ago. They call it sympatheiathe idea of “mutual interdependence.”

Essentially, helping the individual helps the collective (and harming the individual harms the collective).

Why should you care?

Because we make the world a better place by helping others. When we help others, we feel like what we’re doing matters. And doing work that matters is part of an Intentional Life.

So when you’re trying to figure out the impact you want to have, the purpose of your business, or what an Intentional Life looks like for you, ask yourself the Question of the Week.

Question for the Week

Who can I help and how can I help them?

Share Your Insights

Know someone who’d love this content? Share it with them!

My goal is to help entrepreneurs be more intentional with how they live, work, and create.

So if you enjoy Building Blocks, I’ll be forever grateful if you help me spread these insights by sharing this issue with a friend.

And if someone forwarded this to you, check out past issues and subscribe here:

Let me know what you think and what you’d like to see in future issues. I’m always working to making Building Blocks more valuable for you.

Until next time—memento mori,

Corey Wilks, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Executive Coach


Course (Cohort 2 Starts September 5th): Intentional Life Design