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How to Commit to the Things You Start | Scott H Young

Improve Your Ability to Stick to Things

  1. Start with projects that should be easy to commit to. Don’t start with projects of 3-6 months if you don’t have a strong track-record of one-month successes behind you. 
  2. Start becoming more sensitive about what you commit to. Be cautious about overcommitting.
  3. If you need future flexibility, bake it into your initial commitment, don’t try to wiggle it in later.
  4. Raise the bar on what counts as a valid excuse. View commitment as a long-term skill-building project.

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How to Commit to the Things You Start | Scott H Young

How to Commit to the Things You Start | Scott H Young

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2018/04/05/commit-to-the-things-you-start/

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Key Ideas

Commitment to Personal Goals

Generally, people don't train in themselves the habits, self-knowledge and control structures to ensure they act on their plans and goals.

You can be better at committing to things by practice, but commitment cannot be practiced on its own. It must be practiced in conjunction with some other goal.

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Long-term flexible commitment

What many people fail at with long-term commitments is that they make their initial vision too rigid.

Flexible commitment can help overcome this by bringing together two pr...

Walk the Winding Path
  1. Stick to short commitments. Get good at this skill before going further.
  2. Understand your goal at different levels. The highest goal should be fairly abstract.
  3. Set a much more specific agenda of how I could fulfill this.
  4. Have periodic reviews where you can change your direction and incorporate new ideas. 
  5. Don't let your reviews interfere with the short-term process of committing.
The winding path: Goals and projects
Imagine your ambitions on two levels:
  1. A goal level, which is big-picture and abstract. It has just enough detail to inspire, but not so much that you're stuck pursuing things that don’t matter when conditions change. 
  2. Underneath that, have projects: these tend to be short-to-medium term efforts you think will help realize the larger goal.

The flexibility of the system comes once one leg of a short-term commitment has ended. This provides an opportunity for pivoting and redirecting.

The Commitment Muscle

Sticking through things longer builds resilience. But sticking through on a bad idea, project or effort can lose you years of your life.

The goal is to increase your ability to susta...

Quitting Points

They are pre-specified periods of time, effort or stress that you decide you’re willing to endure before you step back and re-evaluate.

Pick Your Quitting Point
  • Set shorter lengths of projects: set projects that are short enough that committing to them all the way is easy enough to do or break into chunks th bigger ones.
  • Set re-evaluation points for ongoing habits and goals.
  • Based on impact to other areas of your life. You can choose metrics like: time and how those things impact your life.
Self-control
Self-control

It’s your ability to resolve conflicts between your short-term desires and your long-term goals.

For example, successful self-control means sacrificing immediate pleasure (cookies a...

Why self-control matters

People who have high self-control aren’t missing out on enjoyment. Not being able to resist temptation and enjoying life are not the same things.

They tend to eat in a healthily way, exercise more, sleep better, drink less alcohol, smoke fewer cigarettes, achieve higher grades at university, have more peaceful relationships, and are more financially secure.

Biological limits to self-control

Research showed that self-control is ultimately limited by our biology. We can’t exercise effortful self-control indefinitely – the brain has to do regular maintenance to remain functional.

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