Do what works and not what’s satisfying

Most of us avoid doing what works, instead we rely on self-made plans which gives us pseudo-satisfaction of working. Looking at patterns of success, Cal Newport of Study Hacks concludes that 

It’s significantly more pleasant to pursue a goal with a plan entirely of our own construction, than to use a plan based on a systematic study of what actually works. The former allows us to pseudo-strive, experiencing the fulfillment of busyness and complex planning while avoiding any of the uncomfortable, deliberate, often harsh difficulties that populate plans of the latter type.

Gladwell’s recommended 10,000 hours will not make people remarkable unless they put in deliberate efforts to become better.

It’s not just about 10,000 hours

Malcolm Gladwell suggested that one needs to put in the 10,000 hours to become exceptional at something. Researchers say that mere number of hours of experience don’t translate into exceptional performance, but what does is deliberate practice.

What is deliberate practice?

1. It is designed to improve performance by attacking weaknesses

2. It involves repetition (so one needs to overcome boredom)

3. It needs feedback to better the routine

4. It is highly demanding mentally (needs lots of focus in efforts)

5. It is hard (doing what you are bad at repeatedly cannot be fun)

6. It requires setting goals about improving the process rather than the outcome

Fighting the Introspection Principle

Introspection Principle states that the act of self-reflection is the most important for making big life decisions.

This principle is too ingrained in our psyche and is not the most effective way to build a compelling career. Fighting the principle means accepting that the path of finding compelling work is ambiguous. 

Cal Newport’s advice seems more convincing:

Compelling careers unfold as follows: You choose something. You work hard at building skills. You fail at some things and respond by shifting your attention to other things that work better. Over time, as you become more valuable to the world and confident in your ability, interesting opportunities finally start to arise.