Photo Credit: Woody Kelly on Unsplash
The Weekly Takeaway is a short weekly digest sent to subscribers every Sunday about the biggest learning of my week. It's as much an internal log as it is public facing. Though, often I feel the process is something everyone can learn from — no matter the endeavor — so sharing here on the interwebs, as well.
The Weekly Takeaway: Do Good Things Consistently
This week's biggest takeaway is actually what I'm viewing to be my biggest failure: lack of consistency. My goals with this project are:
to steadily get better at writing/producing music
to build a happy little audience to send my music to
to maybe get up on a stage somewhere and perform some of these songs (lifelong dream here)
Looking back at my week, I can't help but feel like I didn't get much closer to any of these things. It's as if I sporadically chose a few roads that ran parallel to my destination instead of driving headfirst towards the target. So, as I sit here thinking about how to get better in the weeks ahead, I reflected on some of my favorite online readings of late.
Consensus pick from my brain cells, here's the secret sauce I'm not harnessing well enough: the power of compounding (the 8th wonder of the world?). The art of making small improvements in the right direction everyday is the hidden scaffolding behind almost every major human achievement.
One of my favorite modern thinkers of late, James Clear, visualizes the concept with this simple graph.
If you want to be amazed even further, read his account of how the British Cycling team used this concept to win their first Tour de France ever, and then went on to winning four more in the next five years.
So how to apply this concept to my goals?
Make my goals more measurable; vague goals can't be assessed and properly aimed towards
Break the goals down smaller and smaller components until I get to a repeatable 15 minute task that I can execute each day and get better at.
Execute each task, stacking the gains they provide. Asses progress at the end of the month to monitor efficacy and direction of the gains.
Make sure to briefly look back and enjoy how far I've come! Life's too short, right? Then move on to the next.
Other thoughts on this concept:
The Plateau: I thought of this concept in relation to my love of foreign languages and remembered distinctly how much harder it was to internalize what a 1% gain was as you progressed farther and farther into your learnings. Intermediate learners often hit what is called "the plateau." For example, on the first day, you learn 10 more words of French when you used to just know "fromage," and you easily see a 1000% increase in your vocabulary. While three months later, you struggle to internalize one verb tense over the course of a week. But, once you learn and master that tense, you've essentially made a larger chunk gain (let's say 5% for the sake of this example), as you can use the tenses for a large swath of verbs. It's harder to see the 1% improvements each day as you progress farther into your subject, even if they're always there.
Velocity: In the world of physics, you might remember that velocity is not just a measure of speed, it's a measure of speed plus vector (i.e. a direction). It's not enough to just move, but to move in the right direction. Sometimes it's easy to get sucked into learning and progressing at something that isn't actually applicable to your goals. I spent much of this week learning chord progressions that form the basis of Gypsy Jazz. Interesting? Yea, I guess. Helpful for me right now? Not at all. I would be OK with this if I did other things to advance my goals first, but I did this instead of those things. Know your direction.
In Short: Focus on the small thing you can do right now; results will snowball
More Inspiration On This Subject:
New Website I've Been Loving:
Ross Gordon's Gridology uses simple grids to explain big topics
Old Favorite Website I've Always Loved:
James Clear's explorations into habits are always circulating in my head
Lyric Of The Week That Stuck In My Head:
"I don’t know what sparked this fire
I like the way it burns"
Song - Golden Hour by Champagne Lane