Embracing Ambiguity – Cal Newport – Study Hacks

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Beyond the 10,000 Hour Rule…

I really like this post from Cal Newport’s Study Hacks . The Study Hacks site is dedicated to looking to decode underlying “patterns of success.” Here are cal’s working rules. He’s quick to point out that they are not “the magic right answers”, they are “working rules that help me maintain forward momentum.”

  1. Embrace Ambiguity: You’ll never be fully confident in your approach to becoming excellent. Embrace this ambiguity and your ability to recognize it and still move forward; this resolve separates you from most other people who are fearful of such messiness and soon retreat to the comfort small projects with small (but immediately apparent) results.
  2. Stay Specific: Always follow a specific written plan for becoming better, even if you’re not sure if it’s the best plan. Specificity focuses your efforts and gives you the possibility of growth. Without a plan, it’s difficult to progress. (I maintain, for example, a detailed strategy for stretching my ability to translate algorithmic insights into deep results.)
  3. Tinker Often, But Not Too Often: Use moments of feedback — for me, for example, learning whether a research paper was accepted or won an award — to make educated adjustments to your plan. Don’t do this too often, however, or you won’t leave enough time to make progress. I find, on average, that I adjust my plan around once per semester.
  4. Seek Resistance: At the core of getting better is deliberate practice — stretching yourself beyond your current capability. This work is hard and draining, but also necessary. Seek this mental resistance. If you’re not regularly experiencing long stretches of mind-melting hard focus, then you’re wasting your time.
  5. Revel in the Crafstmanship: The path to becoming excellent is so long and messy that a goal-oriented motivation can only carry you so far. Top achievers find enjoyment in practicing their craft along the way.

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About the author

I am a movement maverick, exploring beginner's mind and beginner's body through mobility, bodyweight training, breathwork, mindfulness, kettlebells and martial arts, focussing on self care, pain free movement and resilience. Find suggestions to get you moving over at http://100repchallenge.com Want to move with ease and imagination? For individual or group instruction please contact me.

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