[POST] Effort versus outcome



In this post, Jonathan, the founder of Tribe of Five, discusses how he got better results by focusing on effort instead of outcome.




A couple of years ago, I heard that most people only read one book per year. I also heard that successful people read one book per month.


So I did what any rational person would do. I decided that I too would read 12 books in the next year. 


I made a big mistake though…I focused on the outcome. What I should have done was focus on the effort (ie. commit to read for 30 minutes a day, everyday).


This is why.


In month 1, I was on track. I read my first book and loved it. But by the start of month 2, I stumbled already. I had picked up Thinking Fast and Slow and was struggling. First, it was a dense book and was intimidating. Second, within the first few chapters, I knew it wasn’t a book that clicked with me. 


But, since I already started, I felt the need to keep reading in order to stay on track with my outcome based goal. Halfway through the month, I was miserable. I didn’t want to read, and it became clear that I wasn’t going to finish by the end of the month. I thought to myself, “how was I off track already”?! 


By the end of month 3, I was completely off track, stressed out, and reading wasn’t fun anymore. As a matter of fact, I was still on the same book and finding excuses why I didn’t have time to read each day. I found myself volunteering to wash dishes, or stay at work late, or basically anything to occupy the time I should have been reading!


I knew I needed to change course. So, instead of committing to an outcome, I decided to focus on effort. I decided that I would commit to read for 30 minutes a day.


Almost overnight, I felt in control again! I didn’t force myself to read a book if I didn’t enjoy it. I also had daily feedback loop to measure. It was simple. Either I put in the effort and read, or I didn’t. Without the looming goal of 12 books a year hanging over me, or the fact that I was significantly behind schedule, I enjoyed reading again.


I didn’t judge books based on how many pages were in it, or how dense the line spacing was. I could just focus on reading books I was interested in.


By the end of the year, I didn’t end up reading 12 books. But I got close. I ended up reading 9. Some might say I failed, but in my eyes, I still read way more than I would have. And more importantly, I enjoyed each step in the journey and didn’t get stressed out.


From this experience, this was my key takeaway:


Effort is within your direct control. Outcome is outside of your direct control. 


Control the things in your direct control!




This has become a core tenant at Tribe of Five. When you join a 30 day challenge, your daily actions are based around effort related goals. 


You are always in control! And because you are in control, you are more likely to succeed.

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