Since starting this newsletter, giving up has crossed my mind regularly. The reasons vary. Yet, they sound exactly like the ones that crossed my mind when I started working out, building a company, driving, coding, etc.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten.” – Bill Gates.
We’re always disappointed at the initial progress when started something new. Most of us quit during the valley of disappointment because we don’t believe in the power of consistent marginal improvements.
The fear of failure often prohibits consistency. It makes us more uncertain about whether we can succeed. But, consistency is the perfect medicine for doubt.
“When people talk about trying to suppress your fear … I mean, I look at it differently. I try to expand my comfort zone by practising the moves over and over again.” - Alex Honnold.
“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” - Seneca.
The key is to keep going long enough to hit the “Critical Threshold” - the point our results, finally meet our initial expectations.
Below, I’ve detailed a few way’s to improve our commitment until (and beyond) this point.
Making yourself accountable to people encourages you to persist.
Startups are increasingly documenting their developments publicly (i.e. #BuildInPublic) for this reason too. Public accountability motivates us to be consistent. We also see this with other communities (e.g. #100DaysOfCode and #100DaysOfNoCode).
Taking it one step further, you can find a partner or community. They won’t just listen to your aspirations but will place clear expectations on you.
Want to work out? Get a gym partner.
Want to read more? Find a book club.
Want to build a company? Join a mastermind group or get a co-founder.
This community/partner will help you overcome the valley of disappointment.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” - African Proverb
In Atomic Habits, James Clear argues that we prefer habits that are most:
If you want to become more consistent, then make the option more preferable by leveraging the above.
Our actions ultimately result from our beliefs about ourself. Fear hinders us from believing we’re genuinely the people we aspire to be. I feared my numerical background prevented me from identifying as a writer.
However, the best way to overcome this is to identify as the person we’re aspiring to be. If you want to read more, you must see yourself as a reader. If you’re learning to code, you must identify as a coder.
You will ultimately live up to your view of yourself.
Obsession with the results is discouraging in the early stages. However, learning to find satisfaction in the process eliminates our premature disappointment.
“When you fall in love with the process, not the product you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy, you can be satisfied anytime your system is running” - Atomic Habits by James Clear.
The longer we remain consistent, the more the benefits compound. The latter stages of exponential growth can drastically exceed our earlier aspirations.
There may also be long-term peripheral benefits:
"Many a false step was made by standing still." - Fortune Cookie (found in The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss)
"Don't stop working, before it starts working." - Jack Butcher
Consistency is challenging, not impossible. Ben Horowitz’s ends his book (The Hard Thing About Hard Things) with these words:
“Life is struggle.”
I believe that within that quote lies the most important lesson…
Embrace the struggle.
Thanks for reading!