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How to Know When to Quit | Scott H Young

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 sustain commitments you make to yourself, without undermining those commitments by over-committing to the wrong things.

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How to Know When to Quit | Scott H Young

How to Know When to Quit | Scott H Young

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2018/10/11/how-to-know-when-to-quit/

scotthyoung.com

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Key Ideas

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 sustain commitments you make to yourself, without undermining those commitments by over-committing to the wrong things.

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.

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Why you are afraid of quitting

The sunk cost fallacy is one of the primary reasons you are so afraid to quit anything. It occurs when you tell yourself that you can’t quit because of all the time or money you have ...

Overcome the fear of quitting

Sunk cost is about the past. Opportunity cost is about the future.

If you are scared to quit (which is absolutely natural), always think of the opportunity cost. Think of the brighter future, not the scary past, and often times that is enough to give you that extra push to make the right decision.

Long-term cost outweighs short-term benefits

When you finally succeed, but you don’t have the health or someone to share the success with, the project might prove not be be worth it. 

Take 5 minutes at the end of the week and reflect on what you have achieved versus what you had to give up to achieve it so you don’t end up giving up too much without even realizing it.  Make this a habit

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Quit When...
  • You're consistently experiencing more frustration than reward.
  • You can't envision a possible solution or continuing this way.
  • Spending time on this keeps you from more rewardin...
Before You Call It Quits
  • Make sure you've identified the real causes of your unhappiness. Keep a diary of events and problems.
  • Give it a chance. Many things, like diets, require time to work out.
  • Try many other solutions.
  • Have a backup plan. Know what you're going to do if you quit and what you need to do to prepare for that.
Analysis paralysis
It's a form of procrastination.

It happens when you convince yourself you can't go forward with a decision, because you haven't given it enough thought, done enough research or figured thi...

Why analysis paralysis happens

It has the same root cause as all forms of procrastination. It is caused by the desire to avoid something unpleasant: you don’t want to get started, so you start searching for excuses to justify avoiding the unpleasantness.

And there really are fears, uncertainties or doubts, which make doing more research an attractive excuse.

Dealing with analysis paralysis

You have to manage 2 realities: 

  • Rationalization: Deal with your rationalization that you need more time to think, plan and research by preventing this excuse from working.
  • Underlying fear: Even if you convince yourself that you are engaging in procrastination and your paralysis is unhelpful, that may not stop you from doing it. Now you need to figure out how to get past it.

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Reality Check

All efforts towards correctly pursuing your own personal development must take into account reality, not how you think the world should work. The truth is reality isn’t fair and just trying your...

Success Bias

Almost no popular self-help authors are going to have had the experience of pursuing a dream (like becoming an author) and not having it eventually work out. 

Understanding reality means that you have to accept that some of your dreams won’t come true just because you work hard enough, be creative enough or go to enough seminars. Don’t base your decisions on a false model of reality.

Outcome Based Thinking

When pursuing a dream you have the underlying assumption that when you reach it you will be happy. That is false. 

Achieving goals doesn’t make you happy because achievements on their own hold no lasting emotional value. Only growth, fulfilment and passion has value.

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Building habits

The basic process for building all habits is basically the same: you repeatedly condition the behavior you want, over time, until it becomes automatic.

But no habit starts out auto...

Conditioning a habit
2 main ways you can condition a habit:
  • Classical conditioning: a paired association with a trigger and a behavior. Going to the gym after you wake up each morning is this kind of habit.
  • Operant conditioning: you not only associate a trigger with a behavior, but you reward that pairing, to accelerate the habit-forming process.
The 30-Day Trial

You commit to some change for 30 days, then tou can go back to your old ways. But having spent thirty days applying a new behavior is often enough to convince you to stick with it.

Pros:

  • Can handle more significant/difficult behavior changes you might be unlikely to start with a perpetual commitment.
  • Fosters an experimental mindset, rather than assuming you already know what’s best.

Cons:

  • 30 days probably isn’t enough to actually make something a habit.
  • Without a long-term plan, many 30-day trials will revert back to the original behavior.

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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.

Habits or Skills

Decide whether what you're trying to improve is mostly a habit or mostly a skill: if your main problem is with doing something you already know how to do, but doing it consistently, that’s pro...

Improving a habit

This process has 3 main parts: 

  • Define the habit you want to form clearly and consistently;
  • Condition it until it is relatively easy to maintain. 
  • Maintain the habit by monitoring it. If you slip, push to reassert the habit quickly.
Improving skills

The best strategy for getting better at skills is deliberate practice. A good way to work on this is to divide it into 3: 

  • Practice the skill. 
  • Get timely feedback on how well you’re performing.
  • Focus on your weak points with selective drills and constrained practice.
The problem with persistence

Failing to quit is a failure to learn. Sometimes your ideas and vision don’t match reality. What you’re trying to do isn’t going to work, staying stubbornly in the same direction can cost you much ...

Deciding whether or not to give up

Consider these questions:

  • Do you have an obviously better opportunity?
  • What did you commit to? Predefine your commitment before starting, to not depend on momentary frustrations to make big decisions to quit or continue.
  • Would your future self feel regret or relief?
  • Do you need to give up? Or just take a break?
Personal Or Core Values

They are what you consider most important in your life, literally what you “value. ” They are broad concepts that can be applied across a wide range of circumstances, as opposed to narrow answers t...

The Benefits Of Having a Core Value
  • Having a core values list helps you make better decisions. The decisions you make come more quickly and efficiently than they would without it.
  • Being unconscious of your core values makes you likely to keep repeating the same mistakes.
Creating a List Of Personal Values

The core values that are most valuable to each of us come from our own personal experience, not from being taught.

As you put them into practice you’ll get better at internalizing these values and they’ll express themselves subconsciously with smaller decisions, as well.

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Common patterns to the problem of motivation
Common patterns to the problem of motivation

There are three common patterns to the problem of motivation:

  • Drive: You don't have a strong enough desire to learn.
  • Anxiety: You have...
Having a weak drive to learn

Without a drive to learn, it's hard to get going. Weak drives include expectations from family, teachers, or employers. It's the things you have to do, but don't want to do.

You can change this, but you need an inspiring goal to get you started. If your project doesn't excite you, no advice will help.

Problems of anxiety when learning something

Sometimes you are excited to learn, but you still avoid getting started. You may worry about the fear of failure, feedback, or performing. If you expose yourself to the thing you find unpleasant and nothing bad happens, your fear will lessen.

Reframing is often helpful in overcoming this problem. Begin each studying session with the idea that you will find it hard.

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