Have you ever heard the saying,
“It’s easy to win the battles, & still lose the war?”
But how do I/you/anyone win the war — our war? I hypothesize that it’s through — compounding.
For ages, I assumed reaching big, audacious goals could be best done by taking large, intense leaps of self-improvement in the shortest amount of time.
Most of the people around me have too — but often they claim to end up in frustration, self-doubt, or the term I’ve heard way too many times during the pandemic, “burnout.”
I’ve never once faced ‘burnout’ and in solely in the past 4 months I
- Was invited to conferences like MIT Tough Tech Summit (for only founders & investors — but was sponsored to attend as an exception).
- Sponsored by OpenBCI to build a system to type using my thoughts, brain-controlled prosthetics & VR games as a neurotech developer.
- Consulted for an MIT startup on how to increase app adoption by 50% of populations in selected states.
- Built a vision for the future of our interface evolution & spoke at India’s largest education conference, WEEXPO India on that. Here’s the talk.
- Built AIs that could identify hand motions from EEG recordings, predict visual stimuli from MEG recordings of human brain activity, detect P300 evoked responses + more
- Developed XR skills and created an AR Web Browser, VR Pilot training simulation etc.
- Developed blockchain skills and built a voting dApp, compensation for content creation dApp. Oh, and my own cryptocurrency.
- Released a podcast (here’s the first episode to learn about a game-changing approach to life).
- Also attended YC’s Future Female Founder’s, KET’s, & Verizon Media’s Immersion Conference among others.
These are just a few of the fun stuff I’ve been able to get my hands dirty in.
And I believe that a lot of this progress has come from — compounding.
It’s not that I was always able to get things I loved done fast, with limited resources, & remotely.
But overtime — habits, relationships, & experiences have compounded to allow me to do so.
It’s a continuous improvement process. I’m still in it. Will always be.
🤫Here’s the secret to get started…
Slowly & slightly adjusting your normal everyday habits and behaviors.
Most people don’t focus on this. And the reason for that is quite simple
1. Our monkey brains are wired to overvalue short-term activities for instant gratification. Here, there’s no instant gratification.
2. It’s difficult for us to understand the power of exponential growth.
3. The beginning sucks — there aren’t any big wins…yet.
It’s easy to stop early. It’s easy to just not start.
We’re humans. Humans are wired to take short-cuts. You get the point.
And that’s not wrong. You see, compound investing is a method to achieve exponential growth, but to get the benefits we need to think long-term.
To think long-term, here’s a starting point (BCS = best case scenario):
- Grab a piece of paper
- Write down what BCS success looks like for you — not for your friends, your parents, or your pets — you, 10–20 years from now. Woo, holy moly, have you thought that far down the line, yet?
- Now, work backwards. Write down what BCS success looks like for you 3 years from now.
- And now a little closer to reality — what BCS success looks like for you this year.
🚨Imp note: It’s okay for this to change. It’s okay for you to pivot… positive change in vision = growth.
With these best case scenarios outlined, you can now take a personalized approach to
- Playing long-term games to maximize compound benefits.
- Being patient when building compound knowledge, skills, mindsets, and relationships.
- Using Nth-order thinking to evaluate compound investments.
- Choosing non-compounding activities to not over-invest in.
I’ve learnt a ton from James Clear, in terms of action items for compounding my growth. For the past few months I’ve been training to
1) Do more of what actually works
It’s easy to get addicted to day-dreaming about what-ifs, convincing yourself that the resources & ideas you already have simply aren’t exciting or new enough .
But you see, as James Clear says, “progress often hides behind boring solutions & underused insights.”
The truth is that most successful people didn’t actually get a secret handbook that nobody else got, titled, “Guide To Greatness — Only For You.”
Sometimes overthinking a need for a better strategy, or more information every second hinders progress. What already works? Do more. Consistently.
Whether that be waking up at 5AM, eating healthy meals, writing blog articles, learning a new language, or making new friends — it’s all about consistency, in continuing the approaches that get you to x.
Sorry, no flashy, magic trick-like hacks here.
2) Avoid tiny losses
Shoutout to Raj for reminding me of this last week⭐
If you are here for the hacks, use this one —
Subtract first, before you think about adding (Yes, I’m switching up the BODMAS rules💁🏾♀️)
Improvement ISN’T about doing more new things (like getting a new alarm clock with flickering, color-changing lights because they’re more likely to wake you up than the phone app going ‘BEEEPP’).
It’s about doing fewer things wrong.
It’s like removing excess elements on the homepage of a website that distract visitors. Adding 50 new animations isn’t the solution to make people love it— making it as simple, and minimally viable as possible is.
By focusing on doing less of what doesn’t work like eliminating mistakes, reducing complexity, and stripping away the inessential you’ll be progressing much faster, much smarter.
3) Measure backwards
It’s funny how often we try to predict the future.
By looking forward, we set goals, and progress milestones.
But the approach that works better for me is measuring backwards>forward.
Don’t get confused. I’m working towards a BCS outcome for the future, but measuring progress & making decisions for today based on yesterday’s execution.
Measuring backward means you make decisions based on what has already happened, not on what you want to happen.
This allows you to be rationally optimistic in setting objectives — not I can do 1000 pushups tomorrow if I wanted to, even though I only did 25 yesterday.
Rather, I did 25 yesterday so I’ll push it up & challenge myself to do 50 today…and if I cross that, x bonus granted.
By being ambitious but also mindful of your current state…
- you won’t get demotivated because you didn’t do something you wished to based on goals made by what you ‘thought’ you could do instead of what you’ve been able to execute on.
- can still push yourself, and set + execute on ambitious goals that you don’t shy away from, escape, or lie about the ease of (yet never actually execute).
- Set personalized action items for yourself to do more of what already works, avoid tiny losses, & measure backwards in alignment with the best case scenario outlines for you.
- Finding where you are at now, where you want to be & getting to the middle ground to move up & up by progressing slowing but consistently is 🔑 Ps. Plans fail. Just fail fast.
- To dig deeper into continuous improvement, check out these books — The Goal & Running Lean.
James Clear: https://jamesclear.com/continuous-improvement
Excited for the 10x version of you🚀