Willpower is for suckers

Making it easy for yourself to get things done.



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John set himself a goal of working out daily on a Sunday. He started going to the gym on Monday. This was 3 years ago. He has been going to the gym ever since. He hasn’t had a problem with motivation whatsoever. He hasn’t missed a day. You know why? Because he’s got willpower.

You know what else John is? An imaginary character. He doesn’t exist. Nobody has it easy like that.

Nobody sets a goal and then just accomplishes it. Not without a good system. Relying on willpower isn’t a good system.

What do you do if you’re driving an electric car in a country that has no charging stations? You’ll run out of electricity pretty quickly. You need a hybrid.

A good system, just like gas, is more reliable.

Now I’m not saying willpower isn’t valuable. But being dependent on it makes you fragile.

The barbell strategy

The barbell strategy is a concept taken from finance. On one end of the barbell you’ve got robust, very low risk investements and on the other end you have high risk assets.

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Fig. 1[source]
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The same can be thought about the system-willpower approach.

On the conservative end you’ve got you’re designed system that yields results that aren’t spectular, but they are still results. Over time these results build upon each other and they bring in the rewards, but you won’t see them overnight.

The first rule of compounding: Never interrupt it unnecessarily.

- Charlie Munger

On the aggressive end you’ve got willpower, motivation, inspiration that yield outstanding results. They are risky to rely upon since you don’t always have them.

Inspiration is perishable. When you have inspiration, act on it right then and there.

If I’m inspired to write a blog post or publish a tweetstorm, I should do it right away. Otherwise, it’s not going to get out there. I won’t come back to it. Inspiration is a beautiful and powerful thing. When you have it, seize it.

- Naval Ravikant

Now I’m not going to tell you how to develop your system, at least not in this article. If you want to find out more about system development/sticking to good habits, you should check out Atomic Habits.

Buy the book

Atomic Habits

by James Clear
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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