Math Might Help Explain Why You Feel So Imperfect

You want to become a better person.

You dig deep and come up with a list of new habits that you need to form in order to get closer to the Ideal You:

  • Get up at 5 am every day.
  • Take a brisk walk for 30 minutes.
  • Perform a 15 minute stretch routine.
  • Meditate for 10 minutes.
  • Write in your Journal.

You’re motivated and willing to put in the work but every once in a while you’re going to not show up; that’s just part of being human.

Let’s say for each of these individual tasks you have a 90% success rate. That sounds pretty good, right? Let’s think about our overall goal, though, because we implanted an idea in our head that our Ideal You did all of these things every day.

What is the probability of accomplishing all of these tasks on a given day? Hint: it’s not 90%.

In combinatorics, when we are testing the probability of multiple events happening in a specific combination, we multiply the probabilities of each individual event. So, what is the probability we will actually accomplish all of these things on a given day?

(Get up early – 0.9) x (Walk – 0.9) x. (Stretch – 0.9) x (Meditate – 0.9) x ( Write – 0. 9 ) = 59%

That means, although you are very good at accomplishing each individual task on a given day, the chances of you doing all of them are drastically lower than the individual percentage of 90%.

It’s nearly a coin flip.

What if you weren’t as disciplined and your task success rate was 80%? That shouldn’t make a huge different, right?

Get up early – 0.8) x (Walk – 0.8) x. (Stretch – 0.8) x (Meditate – 0.8) x ( Write – 0. 8 ) = 33%!

Even a slight difference(-10%) in our discipline at each individual task has nearly halved our success rate of an Ideal You.

Is it easier to see now how hard it can be to become the Ideal You?

In an upcoming post, I’ll attempt to tie anti-fragility, combinatorics, and redefining the Ideal You together such that we can perhaps have a less rigid view of our ideal selves and thus be happier (that’s always the goal, right?)


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