Types and Tailcalls

Trying too hard

published on September 17th, 2023

I'm re-visiting the book on ultralearning I had first read in 2019. As I'm re-reading the book and my old post I'm again excited by the opportunities that ultralearning has to offer. There are just so many topics that I would like to learn and get better at. Ultralearning offers the promise that yes, I can get significantly better at many of them, even while dealing with the responsbibilities of my busy live.

If this is so exciting to me, why am I only coming back to this topic now, after almost four years? Shouldn't I have been busy ultralearning all this time and now boast a wide array of impressive skills or mastery of one or more topics? Well, I probably should and maybe would, if I hadn't thrown in the towel at the end of my first and (so far) last ultralearning project. What happened here?

Looking back, I realize that I had set too ambitious goals for myself. I was trying too hard. I got excited, promised myself I would work really hard and did (or failed sometimes) but came up short. Frustrated, I gave up and abandoned the whole project, exciting or not.

I've realized that I did (and probably still do) this a lot. But lately, I've also found that a different approach, namely just starting and iterating has given me great results. Start moving in the right direction, then see what tweaks I can make to improve. Just keep moving. As an example, at over 40, I might be fitter now than I've ever been. I re-started going to the gym about one year ago without any grand goals. But I saw results and kept tweaking my process.

So I want to stop trying too hard. Just get started, move in the right direction and continuously tweak my approach. Goals can still be useful, but I want to use them as tools, not as my master. And be careful to not be too ambitious and unrealistic in the beginning. Perfect is the enemy of the good.

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