The Theory Behind the Flywheel

As mentioned in my about page, I’m trying to build a virtuous cycle of constant improvement by writing a blog entry a day. Some of the benefits I hope to gain:

  • Improved vocabulary
  • Better at conveying my thoughts through text
  • A minimum amount of time every day for self reflection

There are two immediate motivators I have in mind to sustain the flywheel:

  • The first motivator I have in mind is building a positive association with short term rewards. I’ve committed myself to writing up a blog post once a day. I have no other criteria – length or content doesn’t matter. I’ve removed all blockers in the way of me actually following through. Assuming I actually do it every day, I get that feeling of satisfaction of knowing that I delivered on my goal. Over time, this feeling of success will theoretically compound to the point where I will actually look forward to writing a blog entry every day.
  • This is tightly coupled with the first motivator, but separate. By writing a blog a day,  (Though not necessarily posting them, or I would’ve already failed my task, since I missed Sunday – If I keep moving the goalposts, then I’ll always kick the field goal.) I’m hoping to build a streak. Theoretically, this will also compound over time, because breaking a two year streak is much more meaningful than breaking a five day streak. The longer I can keep it going, the more I’ll feel compelled to keep writing.

There are also some things I’m trying to keep in mind as I do this:

  • Despite what I said above, I’m not going to self flagellate if I miss a day. That can lead a vicious cycle where I’ll criticize myself for missing a day, and then the next time I miss a day, I’m more inclined to put off blogging again, because I’ve built up a negative association with blogging. If this were a third party and I had to bring up some criticism to them, I wouldn’t want to come across as if I were attacking them. A common approach to bringing up criticism is first complimenting them on their strengths, and then bring up the issues you have. I’m essentially framing the discussion of criticism in the same way to myself. It might seem meaningless to do it, since I know I’m doing it, but my subconscious doesn’t give a shit what I think.
  • Keep this as low stakes as possible. I’m not writing for anyone expect myself. Sometimes, I might be inclined to put in more effort, while other times I’m going to phone it in. That’s fine. I’m not going to try to set a certain bar for my work – I’m more concerned with consistency at the moment. I don’t want to feel obligated to make a great post and then end up not doing it.

Anyways, I think flywheel is a dumb name, but I do think the principle is sound.

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