The Spectrum of Control


Hey friends,

What’s the best way to set goals? It varies from person to person.

But I think there are three basic types of goals we can set: Input Goals, Output Goals, and Outcome Goals.

💪 Input Goals

Input Goals are about the work you put in (either time or effort). They look like this:

  • Sit at your writing desk for 2 hours every morning
  • Spend 10 hours on the YouTube channel each week
  • Give 100% in every gym session

You might not write a single sentence, or make any progress on project #getshredded. But you still showed up. Input Goal achieved.

⚖️ Output Goals

Output goals are about measurableresults. What tasks can you complete (probably on a regular basis) that’ll get you closer to your long-term aims?

  • Write 2,000 words each day
  • Film 1 YouTube video per week
  • 10,000+ step-count each day

🎯 Outcome Goals

These are the final outcomes that we actually want. I don’t really care about writing 2,000 words a day; what I really want is to write a good book. Being honest about your Outcome Goals can be a bit daunting.

  • Reach the NY Times Bestseller list
  • Hit 500k views on my next YouTube video
  • Get 6-pack abs

Notice that there’s a spectrum of control here.

Input Goals give you total control over success or failure (so long as you set realistic time limits). You just need to show up. Output Goals can be trickier to consistently achieve, especially with creative work. And Outcome Goals are often long shots that you can only slightly influence.

Let’s say I want to learn Chinese. Is it in my control whether or not I spend 20 minutes practicing Mandarin each day (Input Goal)? Hell yes. Barring any major life complications, I’m in control of whether I can spend 20 minutes a day on this thing.

What about going through 100 Mandarin Anki flashcards every day (Output Goal)? That’s still in my control, but not as much. Some flashcards might be harder than I anticipated, and I could run out of time to finish the full 100, even with 100% effort.

And is winning Language Learner of the Year (Outcome Goal) in my control? Broadly speaking, no. There’s a lot I can do to influence that outcome, but a big chunk of it is outside my control.

So what type of goal should you choose?

I think it depends on your motivation levels. Are you stuck on autopilot? Do things seem too easy or repetitive right now? In that case, try challenging yourself with some ambitious Output Goals (lift heavier weights, film more videos) or Outcome Goals (6-pack abs, hitting 200k YouTube subscribers). Giving yourself an exciting project that’s a bit out of your control might get you fired up again.

On the flip side, maybe you’re getting discouraged by an ambitious Outcome Goal.

If you’re always thinking ‘damn, how can I ever write a whole book/get six pack abs/hit 200k subs?’, it’s easy to start procrastinating. In that case, try moving towards the ‘control’ end of the goals spectrum – set yourself some simple Input Goals.

I say this to my Part-Time YouTuber Academy students all the time: it’s much easier to build momentum with small commitments like “spend 20 minutes a day working on my YouTube channel”. Then you can work your way up to bigger things.

When reporters ask top tennis players ‘how did you keep your nerve at that key point in the match?’, the players always say the same thing: ‘I just focused on playing the next point at 100% of my ability’.

Sometimes it’s just about putting one foot in front of the other.

Have a great week!

Ali xx

PS: We’re in the midst of cohort 6 of the Part-Time YouTuber Academy. 2 weeks down, 3 weeks to go. If you’re potentially interested in joining the next cohort (around November time), please click here to opt-in to the email list and I’ll let you know when enrollment’s open 😊

🧠 Notion

Of the millions of productivity apps I’ve tried (and I like to think I’m a bit of a connoisseur) Notion is the only one I use every single day. Ever since I stumbled across it a few years ago.

I use Notion to organise all of my creative and business projects, including:

  • 🎬 Scripting Videos
  • 💰 Tracking Investments
  • 📮 Writing Newsletters

It can also be a gamechanger for personal projects like:

  • 🏖️ Planning Holidays
  • 🏋️ Tracking Workouts
  • 🍱 Meal Prep

My favourite thing about Notion is how easy it is to customise workflows. You can use kanban boards, video embeds, smart spreadsheets, and way more. Notion is super-clean and minimalist by default, but I give my pages some character by adding emojis and images.

And if you want more ideas, Notion has a massive online community creating free & paid templates (check out my free video YouTube creator templates).

Get started on Notion today, for free (!), using my link: and check out their template gallery for inspiration.

Thanks to Notion for sponsoring this issue of Sunday Snippets.

♥️ My Favourite Things

🧠 Shortform Summary – A Theory Of Fun For Game Design by Ralph Koster. Really interesting book about how to gamify things, that covers some of the same topics as Yu-Kai Chou in Actionable Gamification. “The holy grail is a game that provides never-ending challenges, requires a wide range of skills to succeed, and has a difficulty curve that perfectly adjusts to your skill level over time. This is a lot like life.”

🎙️ Deep Dive Podcast – The Sure-Fire Way To Be Luckier In Life – Advice From Psychology Professor Richard Wiseman. Great episode. Richard and I discussed the basic principles and psychology of luck, and all the ways you can become ‘luckier’.

📝 Article – When the Money’s Just Too Damn Good**by Nat Eliason. About how easy it is to sideline your passion projects (online writing, for Nat) to ‘just bank some extra money first’. This is especially easy to do if you think you might fail at the things you really care about.

🖱️ Tech – Logitech MX Master 3s. A thing of beauty, and finally out in snow white. 90% quieter clicks than the old MX Master 3, which I’m still getting used to. But good if you work in a library or don’t want to annoy flatmates etc.

🎬 My New Videos

🤑 How Much YouTube Paid me for 10,000,000 Views. I break down my highest-performing videos, and discuss exactly how many views you need to: a) pocket money b) go part-time c) quit your job.

🎮 How I Make Boring Work More Fun – Actionable Gamification. How to gamify your life, and make the tasks you’re aversive to a bit more fun. Had some fun with the editing 😉

✍️ Quote of the Week

Enough is elusive because when you reach it, you’re no longer the person that once desired it. Once you occupy an entirely new world, that prior version of yourself is largely inaccessible..

From The Many Worlds of Enough by Laurence Yeo. Resurfaced using Readwise.

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