Ali's blog

Start With Skills

We all have ways in which we want to change our lives to make them “better” than they are now. This is a good thing. Self-acceptance is important but we’re built to go out into the world and make things happen.

We often think of these in terms of goals: some criteria or objective that once met, is an indicator that we’re going in the right direction. Goals are good because they act as a point of focus.

However, goals become stale and difficult to stick to. In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear focuses more on the concepts of identity and processes in order to make lasting change in your life. And those processes in that book are enabled by building regular habits.

Again, all well and good. Though one of the key tenets in Atomic Habits is to make your habits easy. And for me, the best way to make something easy is to be better at it.

That’s why I like the idea of focusing on skills. Specifically: when you’re trying to achieve a major outcome in life, focus on learning skills that would make achieving that outcome easy.

For example, if you wanted to lose weight while building and maintaining muscle, you would have to learn:

  • How to track your calories
  • How to source healthy ingredients
  • How to cook, specifically things with low calories and high protein
  • How to manage your nutrition
  • Being aware of and managing your mood on a calorie-restricted diet
  • How to regulate your sleep cycle
  • How to lift weights correctly without injuring yourself

While you can attempt to lose weight without learning these skills beforehand, focusing on each one individually allows you to bring them all to bare on the goal of losing weight. Each thing is a brick of confidence that you can use against a big scary goal that when taken together makes you much more empowered than if you hadn’t learned them.

The same thinking applies to almost every other endeavour. If you want to find a romantic partner, start a business, learn a language, or any conceivable goal in life, learn to be good at at the things that will help you reach that goal.