Post written by Kevin Olega connect with him on twitter | facebook | g+

If I’m not able to accomplish the basics religiously, I’m not entitled to an upgrade.

In games there’s a concept called level requirement. Powerful items, spells and abilities are only available once your character reaches a certain level. Before reaching a certain level access to this benefit will be locked. This restiction or constraint doesn’t seem to be available in real life. As a result we have the ability to access items, tools or skills or abilities long before we are qualified for it.

The correct sequence of progression makes a process natural and effortless deviating from nature leads to unneccesary stress and eventually damage:

In games, if a low level character is given a high level skill the energy/resource consumption of high level skills will often bring the character down to zero with one or two uses which gets the character killed. The natural progression in games is that as a character grows, the energy level grows then the character is capable of wielding the higher level skill or item and again, I’d like to point out that we don’t seem to have this restriction or constraint in real life. As long as we are capable of making a purchase, the upgrade is available. This worked to my disadvantage instead of my advantage in the past it took me many years to learn and recover and eventually apply and benefit.

Here are examples of constraints I’m working with at the moment:

  • 100 push ups five days a week and 60 leg raise, no upgrades to gym workout until I reach 10,000 push ups total. (I’m already at 3,200).
  • No new notebooks until I’ve used up all my empty notebooks at home.
  • I won’t quit my job for a new one untill I’ve maximised my performance with my current one or until I’m consistently in the top 5% of the workers in my department for three to six months or so.
  • Upgrades involving gadgets, tools or anything expensive will involve requiring an upgrade in the level of my skills and my savings. An example might include buying an iPhone after my I have three times the retail price in my savings account or something like that.
  • I won’t purchase investments until my savings and emergency fund reaches a specific amount.

Why the heck are you going through this much pain and hassle?

I know my own weakness. I’ve had trouble because I buy stuff and tools I don’t use at all or lose interest in.

I feel it’s a shame whenever I inspect some people’s smartphones and see it is only used for calls and text.

I sometimes worry about that happening to me. I see something interesting, pick up a lot of tools that I don’t end up using and eventually quit half way. I know that I have a limited time to play and have limited resources and I want to be able to channel my time and resources wisely. That’s why if I’m not “hell yeah!” into something I should just say no.

What do I do with areas of my life that I feel like exploring?

I use the above strategy. Before upgrading, reach a specific milestone first. Consistent motion is a prerequisite before taking things to the next level such as buying a gadget or a book or an upgrade that can be bought with money.

The main reason why I started my minimalist journey and the blog minimal changes is that I wanted to explore the wisdom of these words:

If you are not faithful with the small things, you will not be faithful with big things.

Where has this worked and why are you so confident in my approach?

  • It worked for me with learning how to cook. I started with one recipe. I purchased the best entry level tools that I could afford. As I learned to make a few meals with the tools I had well, I added additional tools to upgrade my kitchen. I now have a combination of the best entry and mid level tools for cooking. I forsee myself going to the higher level tools
  • It worked with me for biking. Biking is attractive for a lof of reasons. It's a means of of transportation and it gives us exercise. It enables us to bond with other bikers. At that point, I feel it's a bit to spend a good chunk of money to purchase my first bike so I started with the cheapest started bike. I'd love an upgrade soon but I don't mind what I'm riding. I feel that my cheaper bike, makes me stronger so that by the time I upgrade to a lighter and more efficient bike, the performance benefit would be greater.
  • It worked for me for strength training. I tried to go to the gym several times a week and failed. Then I opted to go once a week. Working on increasing the weight I'm lifting. My goal was to bench 200lbs. I started at 30lbs and added 5lbs to the weight every week. Some weeks it was boring. Some weeks I didn't seem to gain strength to add five lbs that it took me two weeks or so to add weight. Eventually there are weeks where I was increasing the weight by ten or twenty pounds. I eventually reached 220lbs then I stopped. I tried 240lbs and was struggling through it for the machine. Then I moved to body weight exercises as said above.
  • It worked for me with sales. I failed miserably at trying to generate sales. I had big hairy audacious goals and failed miserably. I looked like a liar and a loser to the person I valued the most to the point that I lost her. I don't feel regret about those events because it led me to this approach. I saw that if I break down the steps to identify the parts of the interactions and recognize which of my actions are working well and which actions need to be worked on.
  • It worked for me in martial arts. Objectives require the completion of tasks. Tasks require specific or a combination of skills. Skills are a set of techniques. Techniques are a collection of moves. Moves are a series of steps. Martial arts enable the weaker to overcome the stronger through the use of techniques. I simply imitated the steps and the moves of someone stronger and better than me.

How do I apply this?

  • If you're working on a skill or a hobby start with the cheapest tool that you can start with.
  • Start with the smallest step and go and get started.
  • Work on improving your skills and abilities before upgrading your gear. Too often hobbyists that I encounter often pitch me into buying gear. For some reason I don't subscribe to doing that immediately because I believe that it all happens at the right time.
  • You can ruin the process by upgrading too soon. It's like playing an awesome game and loading in a cheat. It ruins the gameplay.

In summary, if you can’t find success in the basics religiously then don’t upgrade yet. There are attractive options out there but if you are not faithful and build a strong foundation the shortcut you are hoping to accelerate your performance will only lead you to failure.

In case you’re wondering:

Religiously means as a matter of usual practice.

Thank you for reading.


Thank you for reading.

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