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Have you ever wondered how some people seem to acquire new skills and knowledge effortlessly? I used to think I was "gifted" for my ability to learn fast until people started asking me, 

"How are you able to do so many things?" 

"How do you know so much?" 

It made me realize that I had a natural curiosity and an interesting pattern of self-discovery.

But that wasn't only it.

Whenever I became interested in a topic, I would research it extensively and read about it for hours every day, sometimes for months. Looking back, the only way to describe it is obsession

Whether it was anime, basketball, computers, drawing, or Photoshop, I would become completely absorbed in mastering the skill or knowledge.

I wasn't naturally good at drawing.

I wasn't naturally good at basketball.

I wasn't naturally good at Photoshop.

I told myself one thing: He's good, and I want to be as good as him (whoever he was.)

My obsession stemmed from a desire for greatness. 

I wanted to know what making 20 shots in a row felt like. 

So I became a workout maniac. I would go to the gym after school for 3-4 hours and shoot airball after airball every single day. Little did I know, I was improving and eventually surpassed my goal of 20 shots in a row in just two months.

I translated this concept into my life for everything I wanted to learn and master.

My obsession was born instinctively.

Unfortunately, most people only experience the negative aspects of it. I have experienced the downsides, but I've also experienced the immense positive side of it.

Obsession is often associated with negativity, but it doesn't have to be. If appropriately channelled, dedication and hard work become effortless.

Imagine what you could accomplish if you don't always feel like you "have" to do it. You just do it because you "want" to do it. 

Reframe your point of view (obsession isn't always bad)

You never follow your obsessions because your mind is programmed to see them as negative.

I've heard and read so many stories about boyfriends and girlfriends that are "obsessed." It means everything has to be about their partner.

  • Always stalking his actions
  • Always thinking about him
  • Always talking about him

Imagine experiencing this situation. How can you think that obsession can be a positive thing?

A better way to reframe "bad obsession" is addiction. Why? Because you can't stop yourself from either thinking about it or doing it. Think of video games, drugs, tv shows, or movies.

You'll hear some people say, "Oh, I'm obsessed with this show," and sometimes, "I'm addicted to this show." I also read in a blog post that people were "obsessed" with the new outfit of an actress.

So, when people don't want to say "addicted," they say "obsessed." It's understandable. Addicted is a strong word, in this case, stronger than obsessed. People won't have the same reaction if you tell them you're addicted compared to you being obsessed.

Can you visualize both contexts?

Back in high school, I said I was obsessed with a video game I was playing (Dofus). I would wake up in the middle of the night to play. Looking back, this was an addiction. When something changes how your brain works (negatively,) it's an addiction. Whether you like it or not.

Fast forward to now, I have become aware of what is bad and what isn't. Before that, I was also trapped in useless obsessions, not necessarily bad, but those that slow you down instead of pushing you through. And this was fueled by perfectionism, another disease many think is a positive trait. 

I was losing hours and hours working on a task that would take me 30 minutes to complete.

Perfectionism leads to useless obsessions, in my case, moving back and forth an image to the right or left, trying to find the perfect color, layout, and picture. 

In one sentence: wasting my damn time.

My first personal website. It took me six months to complete, yes, six.

My current website took me 10 hours to complete because I gave myself 10 hours and not a second more.

I learned how to lean on my positive obsessions.

What if obsession helps you

  • Understand concepts better
  • Achieve goals faster
  • Learn faster

Wouldn't life become effortless?

What is positive obsession?

Before diving into the nitty gritty, I want to expand on two essential aspects you need to understand before even thinking of mastering obsession, the ability to zoom out and self-reflection. Both are tie-to-tie together.

Without these two, an obsession cannot be positive.

The ability to zoom out

You'll be trapped in useless obsessions if you don't zoom out. Let's say you want to learn more about writing because you noticed you became interested. You naturally will start to read many articles and books about writing. 

In the beginner stage, the more you read, the more you learn. The more you know, and the more you want to read, obsession starts to manifest without you noticing it until you don't feel progress anymore. You hit a plateau!

How can you hit a plateau in learning a new topic? 

You lose the ability to understand fast and start becoming anxious, and your obsession becomes your lack of progress. Why can't I progress anymore? Why can't I understand like I was before?

That's the mistake! 

Hitting a plateau is to be expected, you surpass it when you zoom out.

You don't ask yourself when the plateau is going to manifest, you only prepare yourself to surpass it.

Obsess, learn, zoom out and ask.

What have I learned?

What was more challenging than usual?

How am I going to use my new knowledge?

The last question is V E R Y important because you have to apply your new knowledge. 

It should not sit in your brain and get lost.

Self-reflection leads to clarity

Asking the previous questions to yourself is self-reflection in itself. But we can go deeper than that. 

Lifestyle design is all about self-reflection.

Living life with purpose is all about self-reflection.

You won't get anywhere if you don't know where you're heading. 

Imagine you're on the highway, your conscious and subconscious mind is turned off, the only thing you can do is drive on the highway and fill up the gas tank, nothing else. You don't ask questions, you don't ask yourself where you're going, you don't ask anyone where you're going, you just drive, for the rest of your life until you die.

I know how hard this analogy will hit you, but that's how many people live their lives. Day by day, without asking themselves where they're heading in their life, what they want to achieve, or how to achieve it.

Is it how this life is supposed to be lived? No, it's not.

Questioning everything (except what God commands me to do) is a powerful habit that I won't ever let go of. My forever obsession is to learn something new that serves my purpose every single day.

The Obsession Formula

Now that we understand what is essential to the obsession formula's success, let's explore each component individually.

DisclaimerThis is a hypothetical formula based on my own experience and thoughts. 

It's ok if Math isn't your thing. I will give you a plug-and-play to determine your score of obsession later on.

The formula: ((Interest + Focus + Curiosity) x Zoom Out) x (Time)

To make this easy, the formula is based on someone who has a 9-5 job and wants to learn a new skill effectively. Considering this profile, I deem it necessary to study at least 2 "focused" hours per day for 100 days if you want to surpass the beginner level.

Two hours distracted and 2 hours focused are very different. That's why focus is an essential component of the formula.

So, the component time is (number of days x number of hours), which is (100 days x 2 hours)

We must give 10/10 for every formula component to determine the highest score possible.

That would be: 

((10 + 10 + 10) x 10) x (100 x 2) = 60,000 = 100%

Stay with me. It will make sense in a few lines. Let's take a math break for now.

Interest

You can't learn efficiently if you're not genuinely interested in it. If you have a strong interest, you will be more likely to engage with the material and keep learning even when it gets challenging.

Your interest level will determine how much time and energy you will invest in the learning process. Give topics you hated in school another chance, I did it, and I don't regret it.

Focus

The ability to focus on the task for the determined time is a huge factor in whether you'll learn efficiently or not. Research Deep work and practice it.

The ability to focus is the new superpower. – Dan Koe

Be intentional in your learning approach, breaking down the subject into manageable parts and concentrating on one aspect at a time. Without focus, you risk getting overwhelmed or distracted and not making meaningful progress toward your learning goals.

Curiosity

Curiosity is the desire to learn new things and explore different perspectives. It drives you to ask questions, seek further information, and experiment with new ideas.

Curiosity helps you stay engaged and motivated in the learning process, and it can help you discover new approaches or techniques that you might not have considered otherwise.

Sometimes, to learn new things, the only way is to unlearn past things.

Zoom Out

As I mentioned before, zooming out is the ability to see the bigger picture and understand how the different components of a subject fit together. It's about looking beyond the details to see how they connect and contribute to your goal.

This perspective is essential for developing a deeper understanding of the subject and applying your knowledge in different contexts.

Time

Refers to the time you are willing to invest in your learning process. It's about carving out dedicated time slots to focus on your learning and consistently engaging with the material over an extended period. Without sufficient time, you risk not being able to fully absorb the knowledge or develop the necessary skills to become proficient.

Obsessive Score

The obsessive score measures your level of obsession with the topic you want to learn about. It's calculated based on the abovementioned factors, with a maximum score of 60,000. This score reflects the extent to which you are willing to invest in the learning process and indicates your potential for achieving mastery in your chosen field.

Formula in Action

Back to the maths, I know it's not your cup of tea. But I made it easier for you.

I'm learning about copywriting, so there is no better way to grasp this knowledge than a live example. Don't try to stat pad your score because lying to yourself won't help you.

The formula: ((Interest + Focus + Curiosity) x Zoom Out) x (Days x Hours)

Topic: Copywriting

Interest: 10/10

Focus: 7/10

Curiosity: 10/10

Zoom Out: 9/10

Hour per day: 2

Days: 100

I plugged this prompt in ChatGPT to get my score in percentage:

// PROMPT \\

I have a formula which is :

((Interest + Focus + Curiosity) x Zoom Out) x (days x hours) = Score of Obsession (Maximum score of 60,000)

I'm gonna plug my score for each and you are going to give me my percentage based on my final score.

Don't cap the percentage at 100%, it can go above.

First, calculate the parentheses of Interest + Focus + Curiosity

Second, multiply by zoom out.

Last, multiply it by the product of days and hours:

Topic: Copywriting

Interest: 10/10

Focus: 7/10

Curiosity: 10/10

Zoom Out: 9/10

Days: 100

Hours (per day): 2

// PROMPT END \\


Not bad huh?

With my given score, I have an 81% obsessive score with copywriting. That's a "B." It might be hypothetical, but this formula gives you an accurate observation of your weaknesses.

I'm not saying you should aim for 100%, but you should try to improve in the areas you lack. It also helps you determine your interest in a particular topic.

We discussed how to find new interests and passions in this intersect.


Combine passion with obsession

I created the opportunity for myself to share in public and build a multi-passion one-person business. I'm passionate about many, many things, and one of them is learning obsessively. 

Because of it, I can learn as much as I want, keep that knowledge accessible (second brain,) and share it with the world to educate or inspire.

Find your passion and become obsessed, or become obsessed and find your passion. 

It's a win-win.

The Obsession Advocates

The obsession advocates inspired this intersect; Zach Pogrob and Dan Koe.

I follow their work closely.

While writing it, Dan published his interview with Dickie Bush, and it was crazy insightful. 

Drop everything you do and listen to it A S A P. You will connect many dots. 

I'm a huge advocate for following your passions. And I'm also a massive advocate for challenging your thoughts and curiosities!

In summary, there are positive and negative obsessions. You can lean on what is best for you. The obsession formula helps you determine areas to improve to achieve your goals. Even if it's based on 100 days, you should still learn a skill for over 100 days. 

It's an excellent determinator of how well we are making progress. Remember, hitting a plateau is normal!

Send me a DM on Twitter with your obsessive score, and let's make it viral.

- Imed

About imed djabi

I explore the intersection of passions and business.

I am a minimalist, and multi-passionate currently obsessed with the creator economy, branding & web design.

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