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Steps to Achievement: The Pitfalls, Costs, Requirements, and Timelines


I just posted a new article at Less Wrong - "Steps to Achievement: The Pitfalls, Costs, Requirements, and Timelines." This is a little bit longer and more dry than I write for my blog, but I think there's some very important things in here.

If you're interested in goals and achievement, there's quite a lot of meat here. I'm putting the full version up here and please feel very welcome to comment here on this topic, but also consider heading over to Less Wrong, grab a free account, and start participating there. As I described in "You Should Probably Study Rationality," it's a wonderful community.

Reply to: Humans Are Not Automatically Strategic

In "Humans Are Not Automatically Strategic," Anna Salamon outlined some ways that people could take action to be more successful and achieve goals, but do not:

Using Specific Motivation to Reach Your Goals

On Tynan

One of the worst pitfalls of productivity is to decide that you're going to execute on something, work on it for some period of time, lose interest, and ultimately quit before you get meaningful results. This happens in obvious cases like writing a book or coding a project, but can also apply to things like learning a new skill or building a new habit.

The danger of this particular pitfall is that besides spending time on something that yields no, or little, results, you've also incurred a huge opportunity cost. The time, focus, and effort spent on that particular campaign could have been spent on something which you would have completed.

There are a lot of possible causes of this, but the biggest might be motivation. Achieving any serious goal requires pushing through some steep challenges, and raw motivation is often the force that can get you through those challenges.

Of particular importance is specific motivation. Some people are generally motivated, eager to grab life by the horns and succeed, but without specific motivation for individual projects, they are doomed to be enthusiastic dabblers. I know, because I've spent lots of time in this category.

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