I know why you’re here.
Or at least, I can guess.
You want to have the biggest impact for the world as you can, on the causes you believe are most important.
But you don’t think you’re doing enough.
Maybe you want to be at the top of your field.
Or you constantly feel like you should be doing more.
I can guess how you feel, because I’ve been there.
I discovered Effective Altruism in 2014 from the lovely folks at Harvard College Effective Altruism. I’d always leaned consequentialist, and it felt like I’d found my people, people who agreed that of course it mattered if a charity actually accomplished things, and that of course we should actually be trying to change things. I (happily) went a little crazy – within a year I had joined the Harvard EA board as Careers Chair and interned at GiveWell.
But during that period, I was also struggling with intense guilt. I felt like I should be doing way more day-to-day than I was. Focusing for 8 hours a day felt impossible, and a lot of tasks were done hastily in the last minute. Valuable, non-urgent things might not get done at all. I wanted to make an impact on the world, but I had to be able to do stuff to make that happen.
I was studying psychology, particularly positive psychology. It seemed to offer the most evidence-based secrets that existed for how to change my ability to accomplish stuff. After graduating, I took the opportunity to research self-control full time under the badass Grit Lady Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania. I learned a bunch about self-control, behavior change, growth mindset, and developing expertise.
Yet, even after studying self-control psychology for years, it took me about a year of persistent experimentation - reading productivity self-help books, forming habits, and trying out CFAR techniques – to build a system that more or less worked.
I established a solid system for managing todos and goals. I also got a lot better at making plans that were easy to follow.
I set way more realistic expectations for myself, and then raised them as I became capable of more ambitious targets.
I did some long work on my motivation and internal conflicts, and learned to actually listen to myself.
And perhaps most importantly, I figured out how to keep experimenting and building my ability to get stuff done. Which is great, because my productivity is absolutely still a work in progress. The experimental mindset helped me navigate a lot of failed experiments and false starts to figure out which things would make a big enough difference to matter.
I’d stayed involved in EA while at Penn, running the EA fellowship for Penn Effective Altruism. When I left there, I wanted to do something that felt directly impactful, and the idea of doing skill-building coaching with EAs popped up in a conversation with 80,000 Hours. I could try to use all that psych stuff I’d absorbed and make people do more of the awesome stuff they were trying to do.
That’s basically still my goal today. I want to help people improve their ability to get things done that make the world better in a significant way.
Because my experience isn’t unique. There are a lot of people in the world who are trying to make it way better, but they are feeling guilty that they aren’t getting enough done.
Maybe you’re one of them.
Maybe you want to do something really big, but your focused keeps getting stolen by the little tasks that really feel urgent.
Maybe your time gets sucked into the black hole called the internet.
Maybe you keep not doing the thing you think you should, because some part of you feels conflicted.
I know those feelings can change, because I changed mine. And I know that they can improve in a lot less than a year, because I’ve seen lots of other clients do it.
If that description fits you right now, I invite you to chat about it.