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October 27, 2020

Carefully Measure Your Progress

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This is an advanced topic that relates to personal development - Collecting data and tracking your behavior. Essentially, we need to break down our goals into daily action items to know if we’re making progress. But knowing those steps are representative of accomplishing the goal, and maybe not the goal itself, you need to be critical about where the logic falls through and when the action might not be contributing in the way you intended. 

For example let’s say your goal is to wake up at 6am on weekdays. One of the things you might want to track is how often you press the snooze button. Well there’s an implied correlation between your wake up time and if you pressed the snooze button… but what if you didn’t set your alarm for 6am?

Or on the language learning app Duolingo. Let’s say your goal is to be able to have a 5 minute conversation with a native speaker in 2 months. So every day you’re learning and tracking the experience points you have accumulated. But what happens when you go through a few lessons without the same concentration, for the sake of gathering experience points rather than to learn the language?

I bring this up because it highlights the importance of working smarter, not harder. It’s not strictly about the volume or amount of effort applied, but rather the efficiency and effectiveness of that effort. And it’s important to think through how your brain might come up with easy ways to accomplish the task you’ve set out to do, but does so in a way that doesn’t generate the desired result.

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