The Kaizen Newsletter #54 (14/07/2020) - Leveraging your community to accomplish your goals

Thoughts on developing taste, on the generation effect and thinking slowly

Welcome to the 54th edition of the Kaizen Newsletter ⛩, a weekly newsletter where I share my thoughts, new ideas I learn and make weird connections between self-improvement, productivity, product, tech, sports, anime.

Small note: I love how this community has been growing over the past few weeks. We’re currently at 93 subscribers and pushing to get 100 by next week! So if you know someone else that would enjoy reading this newsletter, please share it with them so we can hit the milestone! (hi referred friend, please subscribe here 👇)


As July 1st ticked off, a bunch of my Twitter friends started publishing their mid-year reviews.

I also wanted to do mine, but I was afraid of doing it cause I knew I was far from my goals.

But, I believe that more of us should work with the garage door open. Which means sharing my wins, but includes sharing my losses as well.

The three goals that I set out to accomplish at the beginning of the year were:

  • Have 500 subscribers for my newsletter

  • Release 50 newsletters in 2020

  • Write out 4 long-form essays

And here are my current stats, half a year later:

  • I currently have 93 subscribers for my newsletter

  • I released 26 newsletters so far - I'm on track

  • I wrote 0 long-form essays

So I'm on the pace of meeting 1 out of 3 goals that I set out at the beginning of the year.

https://media1.giphy.com/media/1qhAeOZnZUm8oEauce/giphy.gif?cid=ecf05e471b3dc4e9a7da3dbd3f676be6426b16021bb130e7&rid=giphy.gif

Indeed, Seth, this does not look good.

But would it be crazy if I tell you that I intend to accomplish all three goals by the end of the year?

Maybe a bit. But I truly believe that I'm going to make it.

How did this happen?

One thing you have to know about me is that I have a LOT of interests and I want to be good at ALL of them. So what often happens is that I start one thing, but before even taking the time on being good at that thing, I'm already hopping on to the next cool thing I saw on Twitter.

So yes, at the beginning of the year, my main goal was to focus on just one thing - writing. But, unsurprisingly, I started to get interested in other non-writing subjects.

I had a brief stint where I wanted to become a designer and then thought maybe I should improve my coding skills instead...

https://i.imgflip.com/489phj.jpg

So starting from when I sent out my 2020 goals all the way up to a couple of weeks ago, I had already mentally decided that I would not accomplish my goals.

Instead, I spent my focus on whatever new thing I was enjoying at the time.

All aboard the community train

However, a few weeks ago, my friend KP tweeted this out.

I grabbed the opportunity and since then, I was able to pull myself together and got myself back on track.

I still have a long journey ahead, especially since I effectively wasted 6 months, but I know that I'm still capable of meeting my goals.

How can I be so confident?

It's because I found a community of like-minded people that all have similar goals to me.

I joined KP's newsletter mastermind which pushed me to gain more subscribers and improve my writing week after week.

I joined Writer's Bloc, a community of awesome individuals that help each other out with our writing.

Thanks to this community, I was able to course correct and I'm finally headed in the right direction once again...

That is until I find a new shiny object to steer me off 😅. But my hope is that even if I do hop off track, my friends will be able to help me go back on track once again.

Now, on to the newsletter.


🤔 Thoughts

👅 Thoughts on Taste

Last Sunday, I came across a very interesting newsletter, by Patricia Mou, that got me thinking about taste (aesthetics).

In her latest edition, she announced that she will be starting a second newsletter called amor fati where she will curate her artistic inspirations in photography, literature, arts and architecture.

The reason I'm interested in taste/aesthetics is a bit philosophical.

I believe that you should try to be as honest with yourself as possible.

What I mean by this is understanding what you truly want in life (even if it's not what society is telling you), what are your true opinions on various controversial topics (and not what you're supposed to think) and what do you like (which includes taste/aesthetics).

As you go along this journey of self-discovery, it's important that your taste evolves in tandem.

So how to develop your taste?

One of the best ways to develop your taste is to actually share it with others and that's exactly what Patricia is doing with amor fati.

If you commit to sharing/curating art, then you'll have no choice but to develop it. You're going to have to make time to go through different architecture, paintings, and photography throughout the week and save the ones that resonate with you.

Doing this means that you'll cultivate awareness of what catches your eye. And the more you do this, the more you'll understand what you like and dislike and thus develop taste.

However, I could also be totally wrong. At the end of the day, it's something that's personal to each individual, which Patricia exemplifies here:

As such I’ll be using AmorFati as a personal mood board to collect art that has inspired or moved me in ways words can’t pinpoint. - Patricia

Sometimes taste is just a mood.

✍️ Thoughts on the Generation Effect

The generation effect is defined as "a phenomenon where information is better remembered if it is generated from one's own mind rather than simply read."

I first discovered this concept when listening to Anne-Laure on the Student Mindset podcast run by my friend Brandon.

How I interpret this is as follows: by creating your own version of a piece of content, you will not only understand it better, but you will also remember it better.

One thing I've struggled with is not wanting to publish a particular topic because I feel it's not good enough or someone else more known than me wrote about the topic already "so why would anyone read my article?".

But learning about the generation effect changed that mindset for me.

Instead of thinking "somebody else wrote about this already", I try and think "am I learning something by writing this?"

And if so - ship it! The worst that can happen is that nobody actually reads it - but YOU got something out of it.

🧠 Thoughts on Thinking Slowly

"Start by thinking about the question yourself before reading a bunch of stuff about it. A week or a month of continuous pondering about a question will get you surprisingly far." - Nabeel

I happened to read an article by Nabeel titled How to Understand Things and this quote stuck with me.

I realized that I never try to get to answers by myself.

I don't want to know what my answer is. I want THE answer. I want somebody that I can trust to spoon-feed me the answer so that I can look smart.

But from now on, I want to force myself to slow down my problem-solving.

Often, I would be super excited by a particular topic for a day, spend like half-a-day thinking about it and searching for a bunch of articles to "get the right answer" and then the next morning, I'm just not down anymore.

By slowing things down, as Nabeel suggests, I'll be able to do two things.

  1. I'll be sure that the problem I'm trying to solve is important to me. It's not just a spur of the moment type problem that will fade away the next day.

  2. More importantly, I'll train myself to write down what I think about the problem BEFORE having any external influence. This way, when I start googling "the right answers", I'll already have an opinion formed about the topic.


🐦 Tweets

This is awesome and scary at the same time. All done with AI 🤯.

This kid is so cool. I have no idea how you can speak like that at his age. More of him please!

Something I strive to do for all my important habits.

This deeply resonated with me.

Who knew excel and incels had something in common 😂

🙏 Shoutout

Shoutout to my girlfriend Nancy! It was her birthday this weekend and sadly we couldn't spend it together because of COVID, but we still had fun doing a virtual picnic and ended the night with some Netflix party.


👋 End Note

If you want to know what I'm up to now, you can check it on my website here.

If you enjoyed the Kaizen Newsletter, then it'd be cool if you can share it with your friends.

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Feedback is always appreciated, so let me know what you liked and what I can improve on by replying to this email.

If you see any cool articles, links, tweets, stories or podcasts that you think are interesting, feel free to share as well at alex@alexhughsam.com.