Folium: How to Teach Yourself To Do Hard Things via Lifehacker

Folium: How to Teach Yourself To Do Hard Things via Lifehacker

Folium: How to Teach Yourself To Do Hard Things via Lifehacker


Life is hard…

There, I said it. Someone had to, right? Doesn’t it seem like sometimes there are people in this world who make hard things look easy? Don’t you wish you could be those people?  Was the hard task they accomplished ever hard at all? Or did it just come easy to them? When it comes to doing hard things, a popular phrase undoubtedly conveys this: “practice makes perfect.” Now, since every view is subjective, it is hard to tell whether or not a thing is considered “hard”, but the examples Meghan gives in this article of a “hard” thing were learning to play chess or running a marathon. There is someone, though, who truly believes in that phrase and has created something to help you achieve “perfect”, or at least something close to it.

“I, for one, played a LOT of tennis as a teenager and wrestled with a clarinet for many years in many bands, and guess what? I was never more than solidly average at both.” – Meghan Moravcik Walbert

“Not because they are easy…”

Meghan mentions a man who may have just changed your mindset forever. David MacIver has created a system that can supposedly help you tackle any “hard” thing. This is a system he only somewhat tongue-in-cheek refers to as the “Fully General System for Learning To Do Hard Things.” David says, “The system “always” works in the sense that “eventually” either you will find out why the objective is impossible for you or you will succeed, but it’s very much the unhelpful kind of [eventually] where there’s no guarantee that it won’t take an interminably long time.”

Okay, so maybe this is too good to be true, but that’s basically like life, right? For someone like me, a perfectionist, striving to make the most out of my time and efforts, I would give it a try. The first thing I always do when I try something hard for the first time is measure how much of my time it would take for me to do that thing and ways I can work smarter, not harder. So, maybe this isn’t the program for me after all. Or is it? 

“The Five Kinds of Hard”Dave Stuart Jr.

  1. Things that are outside your comfort zone.
  2. Things that go beyond what is expected or required.
  3. Things that are too big to accomplish alone.
  4. Things that don’t earn an immediate profit.
  5. Things that challenge the cultural norm.

David says that the program offers two approaches. The first is the “Single-Loop System,” for learners who know what success looks like. David says all you need to do is find something that is like the hard thing that you eventually want to accomplish, but easier. You do the “modified hard thing” until it is no longer hard and you’re golden. Seriously? Just like that? Well, no, not really. If you get stuck on the hard thing and it doesn’t get easier, to go back to square 1 and repeat.

The second approach is the “Two-Loop System.” This system is most effective for learners who don’t know what success looks like, but involves similar steps. This system, though, requires working with others to help you understand what success looks like. Either step may seem like an extreme oversimplification of how to do “hard” things, but the lesson is the same. This is essentially a fail-proof system of learning how to do hard things.

A hard thing in my life that I have been trying to perfect is playing the piano. I’ve spent countless hours repeating the same finger motions, chords, reading notes, etc. only to find that I am still slow. This method seems somewhat promising, to the point that I just might try it. But like Meghan says, if you discover that trying this method is still too hard, “at least you tried.”

(Ed. “Wait… I have to do hard things, and then try to *like* doing hard things?”)

So… what “hard thing” are you trying to do right now?

Julie Thatcher
LEAF Contributor