My infatuation with increments

Posted by in Productivity

My infatuation with increments

It’s not that I disapprove of grand personal goals – but unless you’re financially independent and otherwise unoccupied, they may seem an insurmountable struggle to achieve – until you consider the incredible power of increments, that is.


The devil is in the details


Quick, here’s a question: how were the pyramids of Giza constructed? The Mona Lisa painted? The lunar landing accomplished? The Great Wall of China built? Unless you’re a few marbles short of the proverbial set of chinese checkers, you have most likely already guessed the answer: in increments. Now, try this one: what constitutes a grand goal? Ahh, that one’s a little bit harder, isn’t it.


A grand goal is to envision the pyramids of Giza, and focus not on the stones from which they were constructed, but rather the constructions themselves.


Most interesting, however, is the ability to realize that accumulating proper motivation for actually constructing a pyramid is achieved through focusing on the end result – whilst convincing yourself that you are in fact able to do depends on your ability to realize that it’s a matter of arranging a few thousand stones or so in the proper order. One. After. Another.


Everything momentuous is achieved in increments


“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stick with problems longer” – Albert Einstein


The most common reason for why people achieve something momentuous is that they have a true passion for what they do, which acts as a natural enabler in terms of dedicating the amount of resources needed – be it time, energy, attention or something completely different.


For instance, take a gander at this fellow, whom is constructing a cathedral. Out of garbage.


Big or small, it doesn’t matter


What matters with increments is that they suit you. The first step towards completion is to create an inventory of which resources you have at your disposal – or, alternatively, how much you need and whether you must make any sacrifices in order to accomodate your priorities. If the answer is the latter, sit down and conduct what will hopefully be the first of many murderously boring things you will conduct in your endeavour for achievement: make a budget. Finances and time are the two most commonly expended resources, but there may be others particular to your goal.


Another thing which matters is measuring your progress, as it’s vital to be able to create motivation in the short to medium term and not only focusing on being able to single-handedly build a pyramid in a couple of hundred years. Keep it simple: either divide your project into a few (no more than ten) phases with which you are comfortable setting as milestones, or divide it into four by an properly suited, measurable scale such as the amount of muscle mass you intend to gain or the number of stones you will have dropped on your toes.


Learn to be content with incrementals


Inside each and every one of us, there’s a yearning to be extraordinary; to achieve something beyond expectations of our own as well as those of others.


You can do so.


There is one exception, however, and that is that in order to do so, you have to rid yourself of any illusions you might have concocted as to how great achievements are… well, achieved. Unless you’re a creative artist with an exceptional talent specializing in 5-second, $100.000 paintings, I’m afraid I’m going to have to pierce your bubble: Terrific. Things. Take. Time.


Fortunately, if you’re in pursuit of something you are truly passionate about, the expenditure of time will only seem a minor inconvenience. If you feel otherwise, however, I suggest you rather immediately sit down and devote a rather considerable effort towards finding something you are more passionate about.


Oh, and don’t forget: a setback isn’t a setback. It’s just another incremental step towards success.


The simple summary


[box]Greatness is rarely achieved rapidly, and if it is then it is seldom maintained for long. Everyone has the ability to achieve great things if only they find something about which they are genuinely passionate, and realize that there is a difference between the motivation for achieving a goal and the understanding of the increments which – in most all matters – that are required to achieve it. Also: a setback is merely another step towards success. Focus on enjoying the journey.[/box]