The Endogenous Element of Progress
Life is a multivariable, dynamic, non-linear environment. Thus, by definition, there are no guarantees.
But, even though the probability of progress never equals 1, you can damn sure increase it by a couple of dozen percentage points, at the least.
And trust me, given the randomness of this game called Life you’ve found yourself in, you will want to exhaust all option that does so.
Which begs the question: How does one do such a thing?
For most of us, the source of augmentation lies not in a set of external factors/phenomena, but in our internal state. After all, any progress, by virtue of the physical nature of existence, requires, well, you.
Now, at first glance, ‘internal state’ can seem like a broad and abstract topic (which it is), but, to grasp, it’s relatively straightforward. It is nothing but the set of factors that are fully under your control. Think work-ethic, mindset, pain threshold, etc.
As you can imagine, this one concept is vast enough to cover volumes. So, for the sake of brevity, today I shall impart one proverbial cog in the machine that has helped me improve my internal state.
The decisions you make are dependent on you. Yes, multiple factors are at play that results in the thought, but the act of executing is wholly yours. Critically, this applies not only just for the once a lifetime ones (which are obviously life-changing), but also, and more importantly, the small ones you make every single day that snowball into the engines that dictate your life trajectory.
Therefore, to get better at, let’s call it daily decision making, you must first understand a concept more fundamental — energy.
Energy is the raw material for progress. Well, it is the raw material for pretty much everything, but for now, let us focus on your daily limit of biochemical energy use; From the moment you wake up to the point you pass out exhausted.
If you do literally anything worthwhile, you’ve probably realized the truth in the following statement: We have very limited energy at our disposal per day. Therefore, the optimization of energy use is pivotal when trying to achieve anything worthy.
So, coming back to decision making, in a multivariable, dynamic, non-linear environment, making a recurring set of correct decisions with limited energy is understandably very difficult; especially in a time like ours where the potential for distraction is seemingly infinite. Hence, we lose focus all too easily from what we should be doing.
To counter this, I suggest you create a value hierarchy unique to your personal goal. Think of it as a core set of beliefs you would want someone else to follow religiously if your life depended on them succeeding at the same aspiration. (Read this paragraph again.)
Once you’ve established these values, they will not only serve as a guiding light but also create significant energy savings by eradicating the need for thought whenever new decisions arise. In other words, this eliminates the plethora of immaterial variables, simplifying the complexity, thereby maximizing the chance of correct decisions with the least amount of energy.
To provide you with an example of such values, I will share with you a couple of mine.
First, ‘Time is King’. Any activity that disrespects Time is a NO. This is arguably on the top of my list; If you ask me, I strongly believe every single soul alive should adopt this one. Time is all we have. We were dead for billions of years, we are going to be dead for trillions more, why would you willingly waste even a fraction of the microsecond you have been gifted? But, at the end of the day, to each his own.
Another one, ‘Invest energy only wherever the returns compound’. Today, it takes me a couple of weeks to scrape together one rough song idea. After a year or two of constant effort, it will take me less than a day to generate a dozen. That's compound interest.
Before we end, I must warn you, the process to create your value hierarchy is neither a single nor expedient event. It is an iterative process. If you are taking your first steps, I suggest you consciously think about the values you want to espouse for a week, at least. Once you get a solid ball rolling, you may re-visit as and when you deem fit.
Should you choose to implement it, I am confident this process will serve you well. Good luck.