The 20-Mile March, Paths of Trust, & More
Today at a Glance
- Quote: Never enough time.
- Framework: The 20-mile march.
- Tweet: Marshmallow experiment.
- Article: Personal finance is wrong.
- Podcast: Two paths on trust.
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“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.” - John Burroughs
Time is our most precious asset.
Invest it wisely.
The 20-Mile March
Jim Collins is one of the greatest business writers of our generation. More than anything, he is a fantastic analyst of human behavior.
In his book Great by Choice, he constructs a terrific framework called the 20-Mile March.
Summarizing and paraphrasing the excerpt for brevity:
Two people embark on a 3,000 mile walk from San Diego to the tip of Maine. Person A commits to walk 20 miles each day. Person B makes no commitment.
Person A sticks to their commitment. When it's nice out and they are feeling strong, they walk 20 miles and stop. They could have gone 40 or 50 miles, but they stick to their plan of 20 miles each day. When it's nasty out and they are feeling weak, they walk 20 miles and stop. They could have rested and waited out the weather, but they stick to their plan of 20 miles each day.
Person B has no commitment to stick to. When it's nice out and they are feeling strong, they walk 50 miles. When it's nasty out and they are feeling weak, they don't walk at all. They assume the bad weather will pass or they will feel better on another day. They move in fits and starts.
The result: Person A reaches the tip of Maine before Person B has made it through the Midwest.
Here's a simple visualization to to bring it to life:
The 20-Mile March is a brilliant framework for thinking about progress.
As I wrote in How to Change Your Life in One Year:
Consistent, continuous improvement requires consistent, continuous action. For me, this means that if I want to improve at something, I will do that something every single day.
When we commit to a fixed, unintimidating daily progress goal, we check the box and build momentum.
When we don't commit to anything, or when we commit to something intimidating, we miss days and never benefit from the wonders of momentum.
Remember: Anything above 0 compounds!
You don't need to execute on some herculean daily progress to achieve dramatic long-term improvements. When in doubt, make the daily progress goal overly achievable.
A rule of thumb that I use: It should feel EASY on days when your motivation is neutral.
Summarizing the simple 20-Mile March recipe for success:
- Commit to something manageable.
- Stick to it.
A few questions to ask yourself:
- What intimidatingly long march are you on? This is your equivalent of the coast-to-coast walk.
- How can you deconstruct the long march into a manageable daily march? This is the equivalent of the daily 20-mile target.
I'd love to hear from you. Tweet at me @SahilBloom and I'll do my best to get back to everyone.
This account has become one of my favorite new follows. He shares interesting perspectives and graphics on topics around psychology, performance, and more.
This thread was one such example. I'd heard the story of the marshmallow tower experiment before, but he added some great perspectives.
Two points to highlight:
- Movement Creates Momentum: Whether you're taking on a new work project or trying to build a new healthy habit, it can be easy to get stuck in the planning and process phase. Always remember that movement creates momentum. Start taking action and let the early small wins compound.
- Status Management: This was a neat concept I had never heard of that basically says we often waste a big chunk of our mental energy on trying to figure out where we fit into a group. This detracts from our creative capacity (because mental energy is fixed). I imagine large organizations are particularly prone to the pitfalls of status management.
Great content and a recommended follow.
Great article that lays out the notable differences in financial advice given by economists vs. best selling personal finance authors.
In short, the research finds that economists tend to give advice that assumes humans are rational economic actors, while the best selling authors tend to give advice that assumes humans are flawed emotional creatures.
The article captures the essence of what I try to do with my writing:
Provide real, actionable ideas for improving your life that are both (a) effective and (b) account for the natural ebbs and flows of our motivation, discipline, stress, and time.
If I can meet that bar in a newsletter, I consider it a success.
Entrepreneurs, Mentors, & Trust with Jim Collins (The Tim Ferriss Show)
Today's newsletter has a Jim Collins theme—and I'm not mad about it.
This is an episode of The Tim Ferriss Show from 2020 that I just listened to after seeing someone post about it on Twitter. It was an exceptional listen.
Two particularly important notes:
- Two Paths on Trust: You can either (a) trust someone at the start (it is theirs to lose) or (b) make someone earn your trust. I find that I tend to fall into Camp A given my bias for optimism and positivity, though I imagine that gets me burned from time to time. Where do you fall?
- Stop Waiting to Say Something: When you think something nice about someone, tell them right away. Far too many people hold back and never get the chance. Never hold back a generous impulse.
Listen to it here.