Front Load Small Victories

By Jamie McSloy / August 3, 2018
front load small victories featured image

Front Load Small Victories

There are tons of studies that are designed to find out “what constitutes success.”

Across a lot of those studies, it seems that small victories early on cause bigger wins later. If you’re into the Malcolm Gladwell thing, which I’m not particularly, you’ll recognise this as the biggest determinant of success in his system.

So, ignoring Gladwell and his wackier interpretations, it’s pretty much accepted that a small boost in the early stages promotes growth.

Now, we’re not civilians here so we don’t go back in time to the things we’ve failed at and say, “Hey… Tom from my year 2 school class got kissed by a girl and that’s why he’s a ladies man and I’m not!”

Instead, we’re hackers who think, “How can I use this little tidbit of science to my advantage?”

Here’s the answer, folks…

Front Load Small Victories

Lifehacking muppets will say “work smart, not hard.”

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This is kind of like that except better in every way. What we want to do is work hard but also to make sure we set enough attainable goals that we get that constant dopamine push to further us in our efforts.

We do this by setting small goals that we know we can achieve, but that’ll give us sufficient good feelings or other indicators of success such that we’re inspired to keep going.

Most people don’t plan this. Either it happens organically, (i.e. you pick up a guitar at a party, strum a chord that isn’t atonal and a cute girl goes awwwwwwwwwww,) or it doesn’t happen, (you try out for the school football team, you’re terrible, some big kid kicks your shins to pieces and you never try again.)

We’re not most people.

We think, “I want to learn this thing” and we deliberately pick a goal that’s so ridiculously easy that it’s impossible to fail.

Example: Language Learning

Let’s say you want to learn Cantonese.

You find your local Cantonese restaurant, and you say to yourself, “I want to be able to order my takeaway in Cantonese in one week.”

And let’s be honest, you can just go on Reddit or Fiverr and find someone to translate “Chicken Chow Mein” into Cantonese.

That doesn’t matter.

The point is that you walk into that restaurant, say, “I would like the Chicken Chow Mein and some Spring Rolls” in Cantonese and then the girl behind the counter smiles at you and gets your order.

You get a boost, and when you get home and it turns out you have got what you ordered, you think, “Jesus, this is easy.”

And then you wonder what else you can subject the poor Cantonese till girl to in your quest for Cantonese literacy.

The Guidelines

The guidelines are basically:

  • Small goal
  • Easy (almost too easy but you have to work)
  • Regular
  • Fast

With a bonus guideline for if it works into the greater learning system.

Final Thoughts

I’m cutting this short as I’m off for the weekend.

We’ll probably return to this topic at greater length when it’s not just bouncing around in my head and I’m not packing a suitcase.

And we’ll definitely return to this topic quickly in the next two articles because I’ve already written them.

See you in the next one.