How “Dropping Bags” is Accelerating my Speed of Achievement (in anything)

Imagine going on a marathon with a 20kg backpack and finally being able to drop it. You’ll go much faster.

Image by Author.

Maybe you’ve heard about this idea, maybe you haven’t.

It’s the idea that to achieve something, you have to choose your highest conviction and priority thing, and say no to everything else. At least for my life, I would say this is something I need to hear. I have so many interests, side projects, passions, and many skills in parallel I want to become great at: namely piano, table tennis, chess, Mandarin, data science, building my own business, content creation, fitness, and engineering.

Well, with so many things I want to be great at, I’m saying that I would go HELL YES on one and I’m going to drop all the others. I mean this in a more micro sense of when you’re deep in a field and want to speed up your achievements in that field. These skills are also the things that give me happiness in life and I am very fulfilled with the journey of getting better in each.

It’s more in the micro realm of let’s say “building my own business,” this advice of selectively saying yes would apply in spades. After trying many ideas before, I did not fully develop and execute them (because my conviction on them were not high) so they ultimately just amounted to a learning experience.

I will cut to the chase. Today, I want to share that I’m able to grow in all those skills much faster recently by applying this philosophy, but towards priorities. It’s the concept of picking one HELL YES or ALL IN and saying NO to everything else after you’ve listed the priorities you have in a particular field. You have to find your finish line. Here’s what I mean:

Area 1: FITNESS

Let’s say I am working out. Before, in communicating with my personal trainer, I would do this really stupid thing where I pretend the weights are heavier for me than they actually are so that I get less reps in. Or I would care about my image. If I do the right form on a squat, I will 100% do less reps than I do compared to if I did it perfectly. But that’s a cheat. My finish line here is muscle growth. A healthy and strong lifestyle. Knowing this, I should say yes to my muscle growth and no to everything else, including my image. Seems simple. But this idea of “dropping the bag” of what other people think so I can optimize for the result I want: this is something transferrable to every skill I listed above.

Lay out all the variables involved. Then do a sort. Which one is most important? Which one really isn’t? You’ll find tradeoffs. You might find that if you care about your image, that will actually lower what your highest conviction variable is. If I care about my image, that will halter my growth. So double down and drop the baggage of what you seem like to others.

Area 2: GIVING FEEDBACK

Some thing goes for giving feedback.

Here’s a good Tweet about it. What priority or variable should we optimize for when we give feedback to others? Behavior change. Double down on that, because seeing feedback as a chance to finally unload on somebody IS something that will halter behavior change.

Area 3: CONTENT CREATION

This is a more narrow case where I might have 2 “finish lines” — quality of content and consistency — but the main idea remains the same.

I’ve been focusing on quality of content more so than consistency. I feel like I’ve built my skills of content creation enough, so now what’s left is to work on consistency and realize that I have to “drop my baggage” of perfectionism.

Amazingly, when I did this, I realized that I often find my best content comes out on the execution stage rather than the planning stage.

After you’ve listed your priorities (even this simple thing I often forget to actually do), go ALL IN on the highest priorities. Doing so will help you realize all the other variables weighing the actual most important things down.

Once you’ve let the others go, it’s like going on a marathon with a 20kg backpack and finally being able to drop it.

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