Incremental Growth versus Sudden Leaps

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about various growth patterns. And by “growth” I mean “improvement”, or better adaptation to the current context, along with an increased capacity of reaching one’s goals. Of all the patterns, I thought to write today about the most popular two: incremental growth versus sudden (lucky?) leaps (most popular in my life, anyway, of course).

Small Steps versus Huge Jumps

I’m a big fan of small steps, if you read my blog regularly, you already know that. But there is value to be found in huge jumps too. All it takes is to recognize the differences and act accordingly.

In case of huge jumps, you need some extra time to adjust and adapt to the new environment. By the way, if there’s no new environment after a “huge jump”, then there wasn’t any huge jump to begin with. Every disruptive action is designed to put you in a completely new environment.

The best example is the “lottery problem”. If you’re not used to having money, and, all of a sudden, you get an unexpected cash windfall, you’re more prone to losing it all (and maybe getting even more int debt than before) than to build an empire on top of that event. It’s because you didn’t have time to adjust, to adapt to this new space. The “huge jump” placed you in unfamiliar territory and you acted out of fear or ignorance.

But, as there are also enough exceptions to this rule, some people manage to adjust fast and enjoy their newly found fortune. Very few, though.

So, it turns out it’s well worth to spend some time preparing, mentally, for “the unexpected”, while maintaining your regular routine.

Regular Updates versus Burst Breakthroughs

This is a widespread practice in software development. “Release often, release early” they say, and with good reasons. Small, regular updates will make the overall development process easier to understand and control. A huge release will most likely come with more bugs than usual, and it will take more time to fix.

Another difference that it’s worth noting is other people reactions to whatever changes are you going through. If you go through small, incremental upgrades, it’s more likely they will understand your process and adjust to it. If, on the contrary, you have sudden “enlightenments” and act very differently, without warning, they’ll feel scared and back up.

And although you can survive by yourself on a desert island, it’s way better to enjoy some social life – as a matter of fact, the better your social life, the better your overall state. Alienating your friends (even if you think it’s in a “good” way: hey, I found this new thing, this new process, and I’m a completely new person) comes, in the long run, with a high price tag. You may get some exhilaration in the beginning, but, in time, they’ll get bored, or scared and start to distance themselves.

The Best Of Both Worlds?

Well, since you asked (I know you didn’t, I’m just saying) I’d say small, consistent upgrades, while staying completely open to new opportunities is the best approach.

Of course, easier said than done. We tend to get attached to our “proven” ways of living and start to ignore the outliers, to the point we’re actually afraid to start something new.

But, as difficult as it is, it’s worth keeping these “mad” thoughts in your mind, like: “I may become very rich very soon and I have to learn how to spend my money”. Or: “I may find an amazing partner even tomorrow, how would my life change, if this opportunity arises?”

You never know the taste of the new chocolate that life will take out from its box tomorrow.

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