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

On SEBASTIAN MARSHALL

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:

Create mini habits, small steps towards success.

On William Hallman

Let's begin this blog with a picture of the sun rising over the ocean as viewed from Hana in Maui Hawaii. This is the first sunrise I've seen over the ocean, and it was breathtaking. I’ve put this off for a while now, but what better way to start a blog then to begin with a mini article discussing mini habits and goals. This might be a bit rough around the edges or contain thoughts that are still being clarified. The purpose is to start.

I can’t necessarily speak for other people, but I know that a lot of time when I become stagnant in life or I don’t begin or finish a goal its because I’m not focusing on the small gains, rather the large steps ahead. When you create a mini habit, you're taking small action often that helps lead you towards being successful in life goals or purpose. Mini habits can be the small things you do in life that give you a small edge. Examples are: putting the laundry away as soon as its done, cleaning a dirty dish instead of letting piles stack up, responding to email right away instead of putting it off till later in the week, or setting your keys and wallet and personal items in a group in the same place so you don't spend time searching for them.

When you create mini goals, or subgoals of a larger goal, or a sub action that is related to a larger goal you remove the large pressure of achieving something big. If I go into the gym for the first time in a year with a goal to bench 250lb and I struggle with 135lb, I would imagine I would be very discouraged because the goal seems so very far out. But if I instead shift my focus and attitude of success towards just making it to the gym 3 days a week, I’m taking a small step in the larger direction of being in better shape, being healthier, and ultimately achieving that larger goal I may have set.

Mini habits and goals can be intertwined and work with each other. As part of being healthier socially I may make the habit of having eye contact with people I pass on the street and smiling, or maybe saying hi or starting small conversations with someone at the bus stop, or the waiter at the restaurant. To be healthier and in better shape I may drink a glass of water every time I pass the break room at work, or suggest a coworker climb the stairs with me once an hour every hour, or have my vitamins out on my nightstand when I go to bed so they're right in front of me to take when I wake up in the morning.

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