As we set our 2021 goals, I want to share a few quick things I learned over the weekend.
One, there is no "critical density" of knowledge to be acquired before you reach your goal. Chances are, you will never have that critical density. Learning is an unconstrained problem and wanting to learn something to the core before you solve a problem is a recipe for failure. From my experiences, I've felt that this attitude of acquiring a critical density of knowledge is a crutch that stops you from starting.
Better to just start chasing your goal first, and learn everything it takes that's strictly required to reach your goal.
Explore and Learn
Two, call it 'explore', not 'learn'. To "learn" something is to know it inside-out. But, since learning is unconstrained, you will never know something inside-out. Instead, re-label something that you want to learn, to something that you want to explore. This little mindset shift will make you focus 80% of your time on your focused, specific goals, and leave the remainder 20% of your time for exploring things.
This is good because you make meaningful, tangible, concrete progress with some goals and explore other areas, instead of exploring your goals and other areas. The former gets you from point A to B; the latter, nowhere.
Three, solve problems; don't sidestep your fears; don't have fake goals; finish things; have longer timeframes; chase excellence. That's a lot, but most of it is as simple and clear as it can get. Two things I'll explain a bit more: Don't sidestep your fears and have longer timeframes.
Don't sidestep your fears: A lot of your end-of-year accomplishments and level of satisfaction will depend on what you existentially want. If you have always overvalued technical skills but have sidestepped them all this while, thinking that they're not as important, no matter what you do, you will still feel incomplete at the end.
Have longer timeframes: I say this because the graph of compound interest is flat for a long time before it shows any change in slope. If you give up before that, you'll never know whether you really excelled or not. Give yourself time. Best-case, you learn something; worse-case, you fail, but you've still made reasonable progress.
See you next week
This week, Ali and I talk about our goals for 2021. We talk about exploratory goals vs definitive goals, about how we should deal with information overload, and how we can make meaningful progress this year. Tune in to listen to this episode on Spotify, Google, Apple, or the website.
Our Commonplace Book
VGR’s ‘Calculus of Grit’ was an awesome post. A longform post, and definitely worth a read.
Paul Graham’s essay on Earnestness.
We all have goals to read more books. Try not to. Have a look at this video by Nat:
We also like complicated solutions to simple problems. Have a look at this video as well: