You would think that you would start doing productive things and then wind up in a beautiful virtuous cycle where you do things, and the things give you more forks, and then you spend more forks on doing things, until the forks are not only spilling out of the drawer but they’ve filled the kitchen and are making headway into the bedroom. This is probably true of some people: they’re triathletes with four successful startups who are considering going for a PhD in physics (you know, just for the fun of it).
Unfortunately, some people– like me– are, for whatever reason, stuck with chronically low forks. Chronically low forks leaves you in one of the most perverse situations ever: when you know that if you did a particular thing, you would be happier and more able to do things, but you don’t have enough forksnow to do the thing. (Unlike spoons, you cannot borrow forks from future selves.) If I worked on my homework, after like fifteen minutes I would feel like I could take on the world, but right now all I have the energy to do is browse Tumblr. If I ate, I would totally be able to cook an awesome meal, but right now I’m too hungry to cook.
(As someone who regularly winds up with too few forks to cook: MealSquares are a goddamned lifesaver.)
There is a second problem, which is that you don’t always get the forks. For instance, I’ve found I get socializing forks if the people seem to like me and want to hang out with me, working forks if I feel like I’ve accomplished something, and eating forks if I actually manage to eat the food. If I hang out with people who are only sort of vaguely tolerating my presence, or I discover that my two hours’ work is wasted, or I get halfway through cooking but don’t finish making it, I don’t get the reward but I still have to pay the forks. That is probably fine for our startup founder PhD triathlete, since the only consequence for her is that she now has a sleeping place that isn’t covered with cutlery. But if you have low forks to begin with– particularly if you’d spent your last handful of forks on trying to do the thing– it can be disastrous.
I'm always suspicious of analogies and metaphors, I think the tech industry in particular relies upon them much more than is useful, but as a way to empathize with aspects of the human condition, like our limited reservoirs of discipline, such mental models are useful