Question: You know those people – ones that don’t stress over exam deadlines, never do overtime at work, go to the gym in the morning, file their taxes in advance and somehow go to bed before midnight. While most of us struggle, how come some people seem to be doing it without much effort?
The amount of effort something takes you depends a lot on your skill level. Think about doing something simple like reading this sentence. There was a time when this activity was hard and painstaking for you. Recognizing each letter, putting them together to form sounds, realizing that some words aren’t said the way their letters sound.
While it’s easy to think of literacy as being something that’s obviously a skill, most of life is also made up of skills. Passing exams, completing work, habits of exercise and productivity.
The right way to look at someone who is doing something better than you is to recognize that this person might have learned a skill you haven’t yet. Skill isn’t the only thing that separates people. Someone who is 7’ tall will be able to slam dunk easily while I likely never will. Differences in talent matter as much as differences in skill, depending on the domain. However, I usually opt to focus on skill differences because there’s not much to be done about differences in talent.
Whether the reason is skill or talent, effort is inversely proportional to ability.
Gain ability and the effort goes down.
Removing the struggle in life is about gaining abilities—either through learning skills, knowledge or building habits.
Are Successful People Just Putting in More Effort?
As someone who writes advice for a living, I’m always interested in the ways advice works, how it gets distorted and what the typical advice-receiver can do about it.
Make Plans Work on 20% Effort
Your ability to commit to things in theory, is much stronger than in practice. Now imagine you were a person with a fifth of your normal discipline, willpower and free time. How would you make a plan to accomplish the goal in front of you?
Why Focus (not Effort) is the Key to Getting Stuff Done
Stop doing so much stuff. Being more focused is easy: stop having so many damn goals.
The Effort Threshold
The idea that all goals have a minimum effort threshold is a powerful one. If you know roughly what the effort threshold is for any particular goal, you can stop worrying about which tactics to use until you’ve committed at least that much effort.