Optimizing With Many Small Choices

20160214_161050-01.jpegOptimizing for small choices has made a huge difference in my life.

Many, many SMALL choices, every day.

It requires information (what makes a particular choice good or bad, wrt achieving one’s goals.)

But that’s just the starting point. From there, I find that it’s primarily about a mindset, an openness to growth by 1000 small adjustments.

Some people get freaked out when I tell them this. They feel overwhelmed by this.

They ask something like “can’t you just tell me what supplement to take?”

They think small incremental improvements requires a level of discipline and compliance that is beyond them.

But in my experience, once you have the right growth mindset, it becomes easier.

And when you start feeling the small wins, the results compound.

So if a friend asks me if I have a suggestion for how they can lose 40 pounds, I’ll suggest they start by making their bed every morning for a week and then come back and talk to me.

They look at me like I’m nuts.

Then the next week I’ll suggest they do 1 pushup every morning for another week.

Then I’ll suggest that they end every shower with very cold water, if even for 5 seconds.

Or completely power off their phone at 8pm every night for a week.

And so on.

Customized a bit for the person, sometimes based on what I hear them saying (or not saying), and how I perceive what might be blocking them.

It’s about taking back control over one’s own choices. And about telling the “I can’t do this” voice in their head to Shut The Fuck Up.

If you can get up and make your bed, first thing, you have demonstrated that you are in control.

It may seem small and inconsequential, but in my experience, it can be powerful.

Why? Because so much of what blocks people from progress on the big, important things, is a lack of belief in themselves.

This can take different forms I’m different people.

It might be fear of failure. Or fear of being judged by others. Or even fear of having to admit (to self or others) that they’ve been wrong.

And so for most of us humans, we can’t win on the big stuff until we prove to ourselves that we can win at all.

And that even when we fail, it turns out to be less of a big deal than we feared.

This gives us the courage to keep tackling new challenges. New choices. Lots of them. Every day.

If you can do one pushup a day, you can do 5. And if you do 5 a day, next week you’ll be able to do 10.


And if you can grow from 1 to 5 to 10 push-ups a day, you sure as shit can decide not to buy the cookies or ice cream or processed corn chips at the store.

And you can buy healthy snack instead. And you can bring healthy food to a family BBQ where you know there is nothing but unhealthy food choices.

And… You can feel confident about those choices when people give you attitude.

You know they will.

You won’t feel bad when friends subtly shame you you for making lots of good choices.

Why? Because you’ll know why their doing that. Because they’re scared, just like you were.

So instead of feeling ostracized or shamed, you can feel confident with your choices and have empathy.

And then you can suggest that they make their bed every day for the next week.