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Average Speed vs Maximum Speed

Ali Abdaal
Ali Abdaal

Hey friends,

Short email today - just wanted to share a great article that I came across this week. It’s by one of my new favourite non-fiction authors James Clear (who wrote the book Atomic Habits that you should definitely check out).

Here’s the article: https://jamesclear.com/average-speed

His general thesis is that our average speed matters much more than our maximum speed in most areas of life. It doesn’t really move the needle if we have a handful of really intense workouts in a month (maximum speed). What makes the real difference is consistently showing up and putting some work in (average speed).

This clearly also applies to studying or working on any sort of skill. We can be tempted to glamourise maximum speed, pulling all-nighters occasionally, or spending an entire day in our summer holidays trying to learn a song on the guitar. But we’d be far more effective and efficient if instead we focused on our average speed - ie: doing a little bit consistently rather than a large amount sporadically.

This is something that we all probably intuitively know to be true. I’ve certainly written about the power of consistency and have tried to apply it to my own life over the years. But I think from now on, thinking of it as average speed vs maximum speed will be helpful when it comes to talking myself into getting out of bed and going to the gym before work, or into practising my Japanese or guitar, or preparing for my postgraduate medical exams.

Have a great week!

Ali


Stuff I’ve been enjoying this week

Podcast - I really enjoyed the episode of the Tim Ferriss Show where he interviews Patrick Collison, the CEO of Stripe, a payments company that I’ve been using for 6med stuff for the past 5 years. If you’re interested in entrepreneurship or tech or anything like that, it’s definitely worth a listen to.

Non-fiction - I started reading The Dream Machine, a book about the history of computer science, after hearing Patrick’s recommendation on the podcast. It’s really really long but a pretty engaging read so far - I’m currently only about 10% through it, but I imagine I’ll work on it slowly over the coming year.

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Ali Abdaal

Junior doctor, YouTuber, web designer, aspiring musician. Trying out this blogging thing.