Achieving Personal Success by Making Harder Choices
Why are some people called ‘super creatives’ who are up to 50 times as productive as average people? These effective types usually soar in corporate careers or have tremendous success as independent artists. They leave the herd far behind. How do they do it?
Most people get into the habit of making the same easy choices over and over again without ever seeing the benefits of making harder choices.
Why Many People Fail in Life
Some say people fail in life because they didn’t set goals. But most people who did set goals also failed to achieve them. Goal-setting alone, then, doesn’t affect one’s personal success. What does? Habits.
We know that successful people have to set goals and that they also need the right daily habits to keep themselves motivated. I have discovered, however, that daily routines alone also aren’t enough. To be successful, we need the right quality of habits.
And I learned that the quality of one’s habits is largely determined by one’s willingness to make harder choices over easier ones. Because hard choices often pay off exponentially, especially in the long run.
Easy Meals vs. Prepping Dinners
If I’m hungry and my fridge is empty, it’s easy to call delivery. And I’ll pay up to $40 for a shitty meal. For a whole week, I’d end up paying $280 for low-quality dinners. The problem with such easy choices is that they are easy: I can keep making them over and over without breaking the habit.
Were I to overcome my lazy preference for easy meals, I might go to the supermarket once every Saturday and prepare my meals for the whole week. My meals would cost me perhaps 5-10$ a day instead of $40. And I’d control the quality to make sure I get all the protein I need and a lot fewer carbs.
Confronted with an easy and a hard choice, a majority of people will always choose the easy option! That is where successful people win by making harder but more rewarding choices.
Easy choices are like addictions. They have to be made over and over again, and although each act may be easier than the harder choice, hard choices generally offer greater rewards and additional time savings. Instead of calling food delivery every day, I home-prep all my meals once a week.
It’s easier to keep abusing substances on a daily basis than to choose to go cold turkey once. The downside of making easier choices is that you end up repeating them more often, while gradually sabotaging your life. A so-called “hard choice” may actually save you time and money in the long run.
A Bodybuilder’s Example
The Easy Choice: Say, you’re thinking of growing muscle. You could turn to make the easy choice into a habit: You’ll train with light weights, 50 reps, and 7 sets, spend five hours a day at the gym, six days a week, and you waste a lot of time chatting with your gym buddies. This makes bodybuilding another day job and you’ll lose 30 hours a week.
The Hard Choice: You’re also thinking of growing muscle but you don’t want it to be another day job. You decide to train with the heaviest weights you can handle, but you do only 6 o 8 reps and only 1 set to failure. You effectively spend 30 minutes at the gym, you have no time for chitchat, and you only need to go twice a week, or even less than that, because you allow your muscle to recover and grow during multiple rest days between work sessions.
Interestingly, by the end of the year, both of the aforementioned bodybuilding strategies have produces similar results. The difference is that the first wasted 30 hours a week, whereas the other only spent 1 hour at the gym. Guess which one of the bodybuilders has 29 more hours a week to spend on other activities?
Stacking Habits to Become Superproductive
Choosing easy weights to train muscles, clearly, can be a very wasteful decision, whereas choosing to train to failure with heavy weights can be achieved in the minimum time required to do it. Instead of spending long hours at the gym, your body actually grows fastest while you are resting.
Why do ordinary people keep making the easier choices, then? Because they are easy!
Any activity that requires a greater thinking effort or a larger physical exertion will automatically put off a majority of human beings!
The true benefit of making harder choices is that you can do more of them in less time. So, you can start stacking habits, whereas people who keep making the same easy choices over and over eventually turn their ineffective habits into a “lifestyle”.
By making the harder choices first, you become a member of the 3%, the top percentile of people who prefer to be effective over doing things the easy way. We understand that sometimes the easy way is the most effective way. But whenever hard choices lead to more effective results, we prepare for them instead of shunning them.
The Success Formula
As I said, successful people are the ones who show a greater willingness to prepare and perform making more effective but harder choices that—in the end—require less work to do while offering similar or bigger gains.
Making more effective choices frees up a great deal of time to start making even more effective choices, and so you can start stacking skills and habits. It gives us the success formula:
Be effective by making better but harder choices over easier ones
Free up time to stack more habits