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Imagine you want to open a door that opens by pushing. Applying force in the right direction (e.g., push) will open the door without much friction. If you try to open it by pulling, you will waste your energy without getting anything. If you pull too hard, you might actually bring harm, both to yourself and the door.

Force = Effort

Applying effort in the right direction gets you a positive result with the least amount of resistance. Effort in the wrong direction wastes your energy and doesn't get you what you want. Applying too much effort in the wrong direction may actually create counter-productive results.

Here's how you can apply this model to things you want to do.

Before you start to do anything, you have to know what the rules of the game are and what you're trying to achieve.

This is equivalent to getting a contextual understanding of how doors work and what you need to do to open them. More importantly, it's an awareness of what doors exists and which one you should open.

Only then does applying effort in the right direction become relevant.

When you're stuck trying to open a door, you're either overthinking or overdoing.

Overthinking looks like being too absorbed in learning the game's rules without taking any meaningful action. It's being stuck on theory. It's failing to recognize that rules of the game are discovered by tinkering: taking small steps to develop an understanding of things work.

Overdoing looks like pushing hard on a door that opens by pulling. Only to find out it was the wrong door.

Think about something important you're trying to do but feel stuck doing.

Which of those things are you doing?