A hidden benefit of extremifying

When you extremify, you tend to impose more limitations on your project. While this might seem to make the goal more difficult, sometimes it can have the opposite effect.

One of the constant problems with goals is that they’re not concrete enough. Learn a foreign language, lose weight, become a better parent – each of these are pretty lame. Imposing some limitations on these actually makes them easier to reach.

Limitations give these kinds of goals structure. Learn enough Spanish in a month to be able to watch The Motorcycle Diaries without subtitles and understand it – that’s a much more actionable goal than the previous version.

Sure, you might fail that second, more tightly defined goal, but you’re almost certain to fail the previous one because there’s no real way of knowing when you’ve accomplished it.

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