Don’t Fail with Abandon

My cliffs notes from Failing with Abandon:

If you tend to miss a goal and think “willpower has failed me; I might as well over-indulge” — and girl, do I! — the author call this pattern “failing with abandon.”

You don’t have to fail with abandon. “When you miss your targets, you’re allowed to say ‘dang!’ and then continue trying to get as close to your target as you can.”

When you’ve missed a target, instead try to miss it by as little as possible.

Failing with abandon is like treating your Past Self as an unjust authority setting impossible mandates. Instead of doing that,

remember who put the target there, and you can ask yourself whether you want to get as close to the target as possible. If you decide you only want to miss your target by a little bit, you still can.

This post is part of the thread: Replacing Guilt Cliffs Notes – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

Avoiding the Slacker/Tryer Dichotomy

Thanks to the Beeminder blog, I stumbled on’s Replacing Guilt series. It’s long, which is a bit daunting, but it captured my interest. To make digesting it easier, I created a Beeminder goal to consume it one article at a time, over the next forty days.

In what would normally be unrelated news, I’m also experimenting with a write-more-words goal. Blogging my cliffs-notes versions of the Replacing Guilt articles should help me retain what I read, and help me with that write-more goal. Nothing fancy here, just notes for my later reference.

So here goes, beginning with the first entry, Half-assing it with everything you’ve got.

remember what you’re fighting for

Apply only the optimal effort required to accomplish your goal (no more, no less). That requires a clear idea of your goal (what you’re fighting for), which requires establishing your own goal, not simply accepting what others assume or expect of you.

Specific examples include: If determined goal is to get an “A” in the class, and your overall grade is already high enough to earn the “A” if you only get a “C” on the paper, aiming for an “A” on a paper will result in wasted effort. Conversely, if your determined goal is to learn as much as you can from a class, you may want to put in significantly more effort than is required to earn an “A” on the paper, due to grade inflation.

[T]oo many people automatically assume that, when an authority figure describes a quality line, they’re “supposed to” push as far right as possible. They think they “should” care about quality. This is silly: real world problems are not about producing the highest-quality products. In all walks of life, the goal is to hit a quality target with minimum effort. […] I’m not telling you that you should be scraping by by only the barest of margins. […] What I am saying is, don’t conflate the quality line with the preference curve. […] Remember what you’re trying to achieve, identify your quality target, and aim for that: no higher, no lower.

This post is part of the thread: Replacing Guilt Cliffs Notes – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.