Consistency Is A Skill

“Don’t fear the man who knows 1,000 techniques. But fear the man that has practiced one technique 1,000 times.” –Bruce Lee

Consistency.

Everybody knows it’s important. Everybody knows you need it if you want to achieve whatever you set out to achieve.

But we don’t typically look at it as a skill.

We look at like an attribute.

To show up every day is a skill though.

Why is consistency so difficult?

It’s difficult because we are constantly changing.

Often in subtle ways we cannot even comprehend.

Are you the same person today as you were yesterday? You might have done similar tasks but you didn’t do the same tasks at the exact same time. You didn’t speak the same words. You didn’t consume the same foods.

Which means you changed.

This is clearer the longer we extrapolate life. It’s hard to see how you were different five days ago. But if you compare yourself to five years ago, you can probably notice a stark contrast. Time gives us perspective.

Each subtle change to ourselves makes it harder for us to be consistent. Because we are changing every day, our priorities change as well.

This is a scary reality because it makes consistency hard to accomplish.

How To Cultivate The Skill

If we know we are going to change, are we completely helpless?

Of course not.

People have remained consistent for long periods of their lives and reaped tremendous rewards. Companies have remained consistent while growing and changing.

Here are some ways you can make sure you’re using consistency throughout the changes: 

Have purpose

My purpose is to make the world happier, healthier, and wiser. It helps me get out of bed in the morning. It is more important to me than money. It is something that lights me up.

Having a purpose can keep you consistent because it reminds you why you’re doing it.

Commit to what you can control

You can’t control the weather. You can’t control the feedback. But you can control your own effort. Set a specific amount of time.

For example, for this website, I am committing to posting twice a week (Monday and Thursday) for one year straight and then judging the results.

Use a routine

Routines help. They make it easy for us to do the desired actions over and over again. They help make sure we’re acting the same way day after day. Throw someone’s routine off, they’ll often be a completely different person. You can use this to your advantage. Set yourself up for success by using routines.

Linking

Similar to routines is linking. This is when you do something and link it to something else. This is a helpful way to stay on track because it does not require you to think.

For example, if you linked putting on your sneakers to working out, it would take the thinking out of the situation.

“Should I work out or should I not?”

It doesn’t matter. Since you put your sneakers on you will do your workout.

The Ten Minute Rule

Decide to do an activity for ten minutes. Then, if you want to quit… go for it. Oftentimes the hardest part was just getting yourself to start.

Stay in motion

You’re either pushing forward and building momentum… or you’re not.

By staying in motion, it leads you to tackle more, achieve more, and be better than you were yesterday. 

Just like an object, staying in motion will help you do more than you ever thought when you started. You’re building on your energy, efforts, and achievements from yesterday to build more energy, efforts, and achievements. A beautiful, never-ending cycle.

Get right back up when you fall

You might not be able to stay in motion forever.

One key insight from a study on habits was that: “Missing one opportunity to perform the behaviour did not materially affect the habit formation process.”

Meaning if you do mess up once, it’s okay. Just get right back on track. The one slipup won’t effect you if you don’t let it ruin tomorrow’s results.

In Summary

If you want to be successful, start viewing consistency as a skill.

Life will change. You will be pushed in new directions. You will be a different person a year from now than you are today.

But using the tactics in this post, you can successfully form whatever habits you want to form to remain consistent.

Jim Collins’ Quirky Rules To Optimize Life

Jim Collins has been experimenting on himself before it was cool.

Jim is a world-renowned author – author of Good to Great and Built to Last.

But perhaps less known is a life-optimizer. Not only is he an avid rock climber and hiker, he has also conducted decades worth of investigations on… himself.

Today, there’s no shortage of people experimenting on themselves.

Trying to be the best version of themselves.

Trying to find out the ways they can optimize their performance.

Jim Collins has been doing it forever.

Jim Collins - Video/Audio

Jim has a few quirky habits.

Before he introduces these principles, he lets people know… “well, you know, I’m is not quite normal.” For anyone in pursuit of becoming the highest version, this makes sense.

Those of us who are obsessed with improvement? We’re not exactly normal. We’re making the decision to make the most out of our one life.

So here are some of Jim Collins’ quirky habits.

The 50/30/20 Rule

He carries three stop watches with him at all times.

The first stopwatch is to track the time he spends on creative work.

The second stopwatch is to track the time he spends on teaching.

The third stopwatch is to track the time he spends on “other stuff that he just has to get done.”

The 50/30/20 Rule states that 50% of his time should be spent on creative work, 30% of his time should be spent on teaching, and 20% of his time should be spent on everything else. Oddly enough, this is similar to the Pareto Principle (80/20).

For many years, Jim actually kept track of the time he spent on these activities.

Today, Jim carries three stopwatches with him, but he doesn’t actually use them. He merely uses them as reminders.

The reason why?

He figured out the 1,000 Hour Rule.

The 1,000 Hour Rule

At some point, Jim stopped tracking these stopwatches and instead realized the creative work portion was the most important. And he figured that for every 365-day cycle, his creatives hours must exceed 1,000 (averages out to around 2 hours, 45 minutes per day)… “no matter what.” That means February 26 to February 26. Or August 2 to August 2.

So what counts when he’s calculating these creative hours, exactly?

Any activity that has a reasonably direct link to the creation of something that is new or potentially durable. If he was an artist, he would count getting the paintbrushes ready. Sometimes, he counts activities that he doesn’t expect, like conversations.

But in general, he errs on the side of caution. It’s better to be a hard counter in your long march.

This rule also bears an interesting similarity to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule (highlighted in Outliers). It’s likely Jim has spent more than 10 years applying this 1,000 Hour Rule. Which would mean he has spent way more than 10,000 hours doing creative work… and would help explain why he’s become such a prolific author.

Day Ratings

Humans have awful memories.

Ask someone what they had for dinner two weeks ago and they will have no idea.

So, at the end of each day, Jim rates the day on a scale from -2 to +2.

  • +2 = great day
  • +1 = good day
  • 0 = average
  • -1 = bad day
  • -2 = really bad day

Here’s the common theme of +2 days: Jim spends them alone working on a difficult problem and/or with people he loves.

Of course, just because these are the conditions that optimize Jim’s life doesn’t mean you will be the same. You need to figure out when you are having +2 days.

Everyone has good days and bad days. Because Jim tracks them, he is aware how to make more good ones and have less bad ones.

Tracking takes less than 5 seconds and probably gives Jim great data on how to optimize his own life.

Think of this as an easier form of journaling.

Sleep Monitoring

Jim went to a sleep specialist in order to optimize his sleep.

Similar to the 1,000 Hour Rule, he has found that for his body, he needs to average 70 hours of sleep every 10 days (average seven hours per night).

Jim believes you can function on no sleep. People pull all-nighters and are able to operate.

But can you function on no sleep for two or three days in a row? Probably not. Jim believes this is because he is dipping too far below the 70-hour average mark.

With that said, he knows people are different. He cautions that this is just what’s worked for him.

The 20 Minute Rule

If Jim wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep within 20 minutes, he gets up and starts his day. Then, he ideally takes a nap from 7am until 10am, where he can begin work again.

Jim finds mornings are the best time to work for him. His mind is free of distractions, people don’t need him to do anything, and he can simply focus on work.

He loves days where he wakes up in the middle of the night because it means he gets two mornings.

This is a great way to take advantage of the time you would be up anyway and put it to good use.

Because Jim loves his work, this is easy for him.

Bug Book

Jim kept a Bug Book in college. It was basically a journal.

Except slightly different.

The premise was that he would observe himself in third person.

For example, in college he wrote:

“The bug Jim really loves to make sense of something difficult, breaking it down into understandable pieces, and teaching it to others.”

This is a pretty astonishing realization to be made as a college student, especially when taken in the context of his career. This is exactly what Jim ended up doing!

The Bug Book was doing experiments on himself to figure out what he liked to do and how he reacted to specific situations. By keeping a Bug Book, Jim was able to view his tendencies as a neutral observer.

Then, he would review his entries and come up with conclusions.

You can do the same by keeping a journal or Bug Book. Make sure to review your entries every week or month to really get the most out of it.

In Summary

  1. Spend at least 1,000 hours yearly doing creative work.
  2. Rate your days.
  3. Make sure you are averaging more than seven hours per night.
  4. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, get to work.
  5. Keep a journal where you look at yourself in the third person.

These rules were all taken from Jim Collins’ interview with Tim Ferriss. To access all notes on the podcast, click here.

The Age of the Micro

We have more information in our pocket than ever before.

This information can be broken down into two categories:

  • Longform content – Books, academic papers, podcasts, lectures, speeches
  • Micro content – Summaries, quick clips, quotes, tweets

In this past, everyone would consume the longform content. (That was the only way to consume.)

But today, we consume primarily bite-sized micro content. (This is the easiest way to consume.)

This leaves a gap in the market. There are many people who would consume the longform content, but there isn’t enough time to possibly consume it all.

Welcome to Age of Micro.


Why does the Age of Micro exist in the first place?

The Age of the Micro exists because there is:

  • More content than ever. There was a lot of information before the Internet.
  • More accessibility than ever. People were making content about content before the Internet. Remember, the news? But the Internet allows anyone to do it.
  • More platforms than ever. Social media networks now own a form of expression. If you want to appeal to aesthetics, go to Instagram. If you want to share your resume, go to LinkedIn. If you want to check on your neighbor, go to Facebook.
  • Shorter attention spans. This leads us to check different platforms constantly. We constantly want to know the latest information, specifically as it relates to us. So people are checking these apps more than ever before.

In the Age of Micro, those who win will be the ones who not only produce great longer form content and ideas (think books, podcasts, academic papers), but those who distill those ideas into shorter forms (summaries, quick clips, quotes).

In this post, we’re going to explore a number of examples across the media of people who have successfully navigated the micro waters already. 

They’ve taken larger pieces of content – something that most people don’t have the time for – and created their own place around their specific forms of micro. 

Let’s dive into the examples so you can see how this can relate to something you’re interested in.


George Mack steals shamelessly

George Mack does one thing really well: he steals people’s ideas.

Okay, fine. 

He doesn’t actually steal them.

But what he does is pretty incredible: he synthesizes intelligent people’s ideas into tweets in order to help you gain more knowledge.

Charlie Munger, Eric Weinstein, Joe Rogan.

Many of his threads make me say, “Ohhh” or “I didn’t know that about that person” or “Wow, that really works that way?”

Here’s the best part:

George doesn’t need to find new information. He doesn’t need to come up with something entirely new. He only needs to find what already exists, and deliver it in a way that is interesting and valuable to people.

Some of his threads have thousands of likes. Hundreds of comments. He clearly provides incredible value.

And all he’s doing?

Synthesizing the information he comes across and understandable for the entire world.

For example, his thread features Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke’s six favorite mental models.

George has found a way to duplicate his synthesis. His two twitter bots @navalbot and @nntalebbot both have more than 20,000 followers. These accounts simply tweet insights directly from Naval Ravikant and Nassim-Nicholas Taleb.

Joe Rogan’s short-form sensation

Joe Rogan runs a YouTube account called JRE Clips.

His podcasts run anywhere from one hour (on the short side) to three hours (on the more normal occasion). 

A heavy investment in time in today’s digital age.

So Joe (or someone on his team) decided to micro his own content. It turned out to be a brilliant decision.

As of this writing, the JRE Clips account has over 2.7 billion views. (For reference, Joe’s main account, PowerfulJRE has less – “only” 2.2 billion views.)

The micro account helps people get a taste of Joe’s podcast. It serves as a way to help people consume Joe’s long-form without having to spend hours.

As a result, the account grew at a tremendous pace.

Omar Raja takes over the sports world

Omar Raja has been practicing the art of the micro since July 2014. 

The 20-year-old sophomore started posting sports clips on an Instagram account he originally called The Highlight Factory while a student at the University of Central Florida. A week later, he changed the name to House of Highlights. 

Since then, the account has garnered more than 17.5 million followers.

He started the account as a way to post his favorite highlights after LeBron James left his beloved Miami Heat. 

Within two years, LeBron himself was following Omar’s account.

It was a startling reality.

Omar understood the power of the micro. He was able to break down the best moments from every game. As a result, he gained a massive following, met his idols, and toured the globe.

Omar could have asked these players for interviews. He could have tried for two years to send these players messages. Instead, he acted as a synthesizer for sports information. As a result, the players started coming to him. (He regularly receives messages from players requesting for his account to post certain clips.)

Derek Sivers outlines his books

Derek Sivers posts book notes for all the books he reads. 

It inspired me to do the same (and many others). 

It serves two purposes: 

(1) It allows readers to find out what books they should read next.

(2) It allows new people to find his site.

He uses the micro by taking the best knowledge from all the books he reads and turns it into an ingestible, micro form people can enjoy.


Not Copy+Paste

Any fool can press the copy and paste button. And you can press the copy and paste button and still garner interest in your account.

But the best results come when you synthesize the material from your perspective.

Omar Raja adds captions. George Mack distills wisdom. Derek Sivers produces summaries.

These might appear as small differences. I mean, you might be thinking, “what difference does it make if Omar writes his caption with or without an emoji?” But the emojis are indications of Omar’s voice.

The small changes you make to the content when you splice your content makes a big difference.

Even behind a screen, you still have a voice. An authentic way people know your style. It could be the way you use certain emojis. Or maybe it’s the way you write sentences. Or it could literally be your own voice (if you’re producing videos). People then start associating that content with your voice. 

That’s the ultimate distinction. Adding your own specific spin on something and bringing it down a shorter form.

Where Do You Go From Here?

First, you find the longer form content you would have consumed anyway. The stuff that you enjoy for fun.

Then, you choose your platform (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and put your own spin on the content. It doesn’t have to be so different but make it your own.

That’s it.

For example, I put all my notes out there for the world to see because I would have consumed this content anyway.

This is the stuff I enjoy reading, learning, listening to regardless if anyone is watching or not.

I assume Omar, George, and Derek didn’t say to themselves, “Hmm, I wonder how I can make a lot of money. I’m going to take longer form content and make it into shorter content.” (And I don’t even know if they make a lot of money from their work.)

They all do it for the love of their own specific content.

Without the Internet:

George Mack would have studied thinkers

Omar Raja would have watched sports.

Derek Sivers would have read books.

Now, we can all benefit from their interests. The world is waiting to benefit from your interests too.


Values for DannyMiranda.com

  1. Create your own journey. Follow the beat of your own drum. Following what someone else wants you to do will lead to resentment and regret. If you want to go for something, do it… life is too short.
  2. The journey is the reward. Your journey, the path from Point A to Point B, is quite literally the reward of life. Often times, people who reach the peak get depressed. We expect happiness from victory. And we do get happiness from it. But the real reward is the process of trying to achieve.
  3. Be open-minded, compassionate, and kind. When you embody these attributes, you’re open to new information. They foster growth. Being open to new information allows you to learn.
  4. Embrace learning. To learn is to grow. To learn is to improve. To learn is to expand one’s knowledge. Learning is difficult but always worth it.
  5. Consistency over perfection (hat tip Mike Vacanti). If you want to make progress on a goal, don’t wait until you have the perfect plan. Just start. Consistency leads to better results than perfection. Set a schedule. Stick to it.
  6. You can choose any action in this moment. You miss a workout. You fell off your diet plan. You took the wrong action in the last moment. Now you sulk over it in this moment. But you can use this moment to improve. If you can do that, you can shape your destiny any way you want.
  7. Spread love. To yourself and others. Show love to yourself, it’s the only person you’ve got. On the other side, who else would benefit from receiving your love? We don’t call the people we love because we think they already know we love them. But a reminder is nice. A reminder makes the world a brighter place. A little bit of light can go a long way.
  8. Dream bigger. There are so many options for what you can accomplish. By “bigger,” I simply mean anything that expands you. Lean into that which will help you gain new perspective, wisdom, and clarity. Dreaming bigger is about learning something new, going to a new place, doing something that isn’t “like” you.
  9. Transparency. Telling the truth is at the root of improvement. Because if you are not honest, you can’t change. Lying to ourselves makes us feel better in the moment but worse in the long-run.
  10. Become the best version of you. It’s my goal this website will help you become the best version of you. That’s the basis of all my work and my life’s mission: To help you become the best version of you.

To your success,

–Danny

The Psychology of Challenges: Why Do Challenges Work?

Everywhere you look, you’ll find a challenge.

Pushup challenge. Mental toughness challenge. Digital declutter challenge. Meditation challenge. And on and on and on.

So, I was curious…

Do these challenges actually work? Why do so many exist? Are they an effective way to change behavior? And, if so, how can we continue to implement the desired behavior even when the challenge is over?

How do these challenges work?

Typically, a challenge is associated with a timeframe.

75HARD (75 days), Whole30 (30 days).

You engage in the behavior(s) you want to change for a set amount of time. You are making no commitments about what you’ll do after the time period is up.

These challenges are typically associated with behavior that has long term benefits but might be more difficult to do in the short term. (For example, I have yet to hear of a “30-Day Check Social Media Challenge” or a “30-Day Smoking Challenge.”)

Seems simple enough, right?

How long does it take to form a habit?

To understand these challenges, it might first make sense to explore habits.

Because the purpose of a challenge, after all, is to change your habits.

Sometimes, it’s to change your habits for a specific time period but, most likely, it’s to change your habits for the long term.

You are doing X but doing Y might prove more beneficial.

So, the question becomes, how many days does it take for you to build a habit?

Many people believe it is 21 days.

The “21 days” myth comes from Maxwell Maltz – a plastic surgeon in the 1950s – who wrote a best-selling book called Psycho-Cybernetics.

In the book, he suggested it took a minimum of 21 days for his patients to notice the physical changes that were made. Along with his own observations about himself, he stated:

“These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”

It wasn’t 21 days. It was a minimum of 21 days.

It turns out the research backs this up.

A 2009 study on habit formation might be the best indicator Maltz was onto something.

It took individuals anywhere from 18 to 254 days for the behavior in the study to be considered a habit. On average, it took participants 66 days for the habit to form.

Perhaps the most interesting part about this study was that missing one opportunity to perform a behavior did not affect the habit formation process.

Meaning, if you goal is to go to the gym three times per week, and you only go twice, there’s no reason to beat yourself up. From a practical perspective (there’s nothing you can do about it now, just focus on the next action). But, also from a scientific one as well (it will have no impact on your long-term goal of going three times per week).

Why do these challenges exist in the first place?

1.  It’s good marketing.

The reason it’s popular is because it’s easy to market.

10 days. 21 days. 30 days.

These are all figures we can wrap our heads around.

Have you heard of a 66-day challenge though?

Of course not.

Even though the study quoted above found this is the amount of time, on average, it takes to form a habit… it doesn’t sound as good.

2. The frog in boiling water.

There was once a popular notion that if you stuck a frog in a pot of boiling water, it would jump out. But if you put a frog in medium temperature water and slowly increased the temperature to boiling hot, it would stay in the pot and boil to death. (Although modern science has disproved this fable, it is this same principle that is at work when you are trying to change your habits.)

If someone wants you to engage in a different behavior, it’d be hard for them to say…

“Do this forever!”

That would be the equivalent of sticking you in boiling hot water. You’d never want to do it. It seems hard.

Instead, they change their approach…

“Try this for 30 days.”

This is the implicit agreement you are making when you decide to do the challenge is that it won’t be forever.

It seems easy. It seems doable.

But perhaps by the time the 30 days is complete, you could actually see yourself doing the challenge “forever.”

3. It helps those around us understand.

Jordan Syatt is a personal trainer.

In 2019, he made the decision not to drink alcohol. It’s not that he was addicted to alcohol. He simply found the behavior unnecessary and expensive. He wanted to change it.

His anecdotal evidence about his own experience is certainly interesting…

When he was at the bar, he would tell the people he was with he wasn’t drinking.

But it was hard for them to accept…

They tried to pressure him into having a drink: “C’mon man! Have a drink. It won’t kill you!”

However, when he told people it was a “challenge,” they understood and didn’t question it.

Now, of course, Jordan is a sample size of one.

But it does help explain the psychology of challenges, why they work, and why they are so popular.

They are not just for us, but to help explain in a succinct way to other people why we’re not acting like them in that particular moment.

What are the downsides to challenges?

1. Psychologically, it creates a light switch in your head.

There is the time you are “on the challenge” and time you are “off the challenge.”

This is potentially troubling.

Yo-yo dieting is a cycle in which something triggers you to lose weight, which causes you to start an exercise/diet plan, you lose some weight, then life gets in the way and your old eating habits return.

The problem with yo-yo dieting is you only introduce healthy eating habits and exercise when you have a problem. This means constantly experiencing drastic fluctuations in weight, going up and down – like a yo-yo.

When you are “off the diet,” you feel free reign to eat anything you want and stop exercising. When you are “on the diet,” you strictly adhere to everything.

Challenges may work in similar ways. Instead of adapting the habits for a better life indefinitely, we assign days to be “on” or “off”. Then, when the day the challenge is over, it gives us the “out” to go back to our normal habits.

2. Habit change may not have occurred by the time you are done with the challenge.

As we know, it might take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a habit to form, depending on the individual and the habit.

Many challenges you’ll find are on the shorter timeframe – 10 days, 28 days, 30 days. As previously discussed though, there are few people who are marketing a 66-day challenge. This is, on average, how long it takes for habits to form. But it’s not catchy though.

3. A challenge might give you a “quick fix,” but will it create sustainable progress?

Take a 10-Day Juice Fast, for example.

Although you will certainly lose weight if you follow this protocol, will it make you more likely to binge on Day 11?

Our society often rewards short-term fixes as opposed to slower and more sustainable.

How can we continue to implement the desired behavior after the challenge is over?

The intent of challenges is to change behavior.

If we accept the purpose of a challenge is not to only do the activity while doing the challenge, but also when you’re off the challenge – then we must consider how to optimize for when you’re off it.

1. Associate triggers for certain activities.

Before we do certain activities, we are triggered to do them. Sometimes, these triggers are conscious. Other times, we are completely unaware of them.

For example, some people take pre-workout powder before they go to the gym. This is their cue that they are about to exercise.

How you can apply it: Let’s say your challenge is a 30-day workout challenge. Consciously make your cue something easy. Something as simple as putting on your gym clothes or listening to a song. Then, immediately after you do this, go to the gym or start your exercise. This way, you will associate putting on your workout clothes or listening to a specific song (something that takes little effort) with doing the workout (something that may seem hard). Once you’ve made this mental connection, you will associate your trigger with the actual task you want to accomplish even when your challenge is complete.

2. Use the Paperclip Strategy (via James Clear).

Trent Dyrsmid was a rookie stockbroker, so nobody expected much out of him in Canada. But he quickly closed big deals, rising through the ranks of his company.

So, what was his strategy?

Here’s what he did:

He would begin each morning with 120 paper clips in one jar. Then, as he made sales calls, he would move the 120 paper clips from one jar to the other.

This visual cue was enough to make a massive difference.

How you can apply it: If you are doing a 30-day challenge, have a paperclip for each day. Then, add some more paperclips. The key is to add more than the number of days the challenge is for. After the 30 days are complete, you will be inclined to keep putting paperclips from one jar to the other.

3. The “10 Minute Rule.”

This rule takes advantage of Newton’s first law of motion:

Object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion.

If you don’t feel like doing an activity, try doing it for only 10 minutes. Give yourself absolute permission to stop.

The reason why challenges often exist is because they make us do hard things we otherwise wouldn’t want to do.

But if you only have to do an activity for 10 minutes…

Often, you’ll want to keep going.

I shamelessly stole this from Josiah Novak (who first tweeted about it on April 22, 2019):

How you can apply it: Let’s say your challenge is reading 10 pages per day for 28 days. After the month is complete, try getting yourself to read for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, you can stop.

***

If you used this post to help you make a decision on whether or not you should pursue a challenge, drop a comment down below.