Incrementalism vs do it the hard way

I told TLW about Penn Jillette’s philosophy of choosing the hard way. Her response was “But you always talk about incremental, tiny changes. These two ideas are opposite to each other.” Penn Jillette’s distaste for “reduce calorie intake by 20%” seemed contrary to the idea of “a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step”.

I see the point. Taking the Penn Gillette approach sounds like the opposite of a tinyhabits.com approach.

She thought about it and said “Different people are motivated differently.” Which of course is a great answer. Some people need big, hairy goals and need to go all-in. For others, this is a guarantee of failure.

Even more, the same person has different philosophies at different times. Sometimes I need the big hairy goal. I need to be all-in. But most of the time, that approach doesn’t work for me. Small wins are my m.o.

But best of all, remember that the world is not an “or” world. It’s an “and” world. (Thanks Tom for this.) All you need to do is go up a level to see that both can be true. Things are not black or white, they are both black and white. Things are not true or false, they are true and false.

It is possible to reconcile The Penn Jillette Way (“Choose to climb Everest”) with incrementalism (“1000 miles, one step”). Choose and audacious goal. Incremental, iterative steps to achieve it.

Penn Jillette chose increments that seem (to me) to be giant steps. I’m doing 16:8 IF, and eat anything within reason in that time box. My aim is 2 pounds a month. His was a pound a day. But I am me. He wasn’t running 5k at a whim. I am. Etc.

Point? I’m going to die anyway so why not be audacious? What’s the worst that can happen? I will die. How will I go for the audacious goal? Maybe all at once, but unlikely. Even audacious goals—Everest—involve trudging the happy road of destiny.

And—happy road of destiny—I have a track record on that, don’t I?