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Steps to Achievement: The Pitfalls, Costs, Requirements, and Timelines

I just posted a new article at Less Wrong - "Steps to Achievement: The Pitfalls, Costs, Requirements, and Timelines." This is a little bit longer and more dry than I write for my blog, but I think there's some very important things in here.

If you're interested in goals and achievement, there's quite a lot of meat here. I'm putting the full version up here and please feel very welcome to comment here on this topic, but also consider heading over to Less Wrong, grab a free account, and start participating there. As I described in "You Should Probably Study Rationality," it's a wonderful community.

Reply to: Humans Are Not Automatically Strategic

In "Humans Are Not Automatically Strategic," Anna Salamon outlined some ways that people could take action to be more successful and achieve goals, but do not:

Are Discipline or Willpower useful concepts?

On Mental Models

Context: self-improvement. About 1/3 of all self-help books somehow incorporate this in one way or another. Some are made up mostly of this idea, others rely on it subtly, maybe unconsciously.

"You just have to want it enough and you will get it."

So far, so good. You could say this is true by definition: if I didn't get something, I didn't want it enough. (I wanted to be skinny, but I wanted ice cream more). But here's the conclusion these self-help authors usually draw:

"Therefore you just need to want it harder!" / "Just Do It!" / "Power through" / "Man up!"

Often times, metaphors alluding to the reader's manliness, good old-fashioned discipline, stopping the whining or similar are invoked.

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