Switch to mobile version

The Shortcut is Probably Too Long

Post image for The Shortcut is Probably Too Long

For a few years in my 20s I was determined to learn French. This endeavor began one day when a friend and I were camping, and our campsite was sandwiched between those of two German backpackers and a French tourist.

Sitting around a fire with our new friends that night, they told us to visit them if we ever came to Europe, and we said we would. My friend and I promised each other that he would learn German, I would learn French, and we’d make a trip there a few years later.

My friend did not learn German and to my knowledge never gave it another thought. (In hindsight I remember one of the Germans saying, “Oh, but you won’t be able to learn German! It’s too hard!) I did try in French though. I attended classes for a few years, bought flash cards and Michel Thomas CDs, and joined whatever mid-2000s language-learning websites there were. I was really into it.

I studied regularly and with great passion for the language, and also for my vision as a person who spoke impeccable French and maybe lived in Paris half the year. However, I didn’t do most of the things language teachers say to do, such as reading French news articles, or having conversations in French with native speakers. That stuff seemed a little extreme to me, or at least a little messy. I would do it later perhaps.

I remember believing I had some special insight into the language-learning process. My French teachers said my accent was impressive, and I knew that I knew some things many people didn’t. The accent is part of the language, first of all. It is to be worked on as much as the vocabulary. Also, you can’t depend on translating from English — you need to connect the real-world thing directly to the French term, marrying in your neurons the concept of cheese with the sound and mouth-feel of the word fromage. You must be able see a dog as un chien; you can’t first go to “dog” in your mind, because there’s no time for that.

Répétez: this is a chien

Because of my special insights, I was making progress without doing the other stuff the teacher recommended. Maybe if I got stuck I would try those other things.

Needless to say, twenty years later I do not speak French at all. Looking back, it’s clear that I didn’t learn the language for a simple reason: I didn’t do the things that the people who actually learn languages do. At the time, though, I did believe I was headed somewhere, despite my unorthodox (and admittedly unrigorous) approach. I really thought I was going about it in a particularly smart and insightful way. Which in hindsight sounds very dumb.

I think I’m prone to this particular kind of self-deception, where you believe there’s a shortcut or compromise that works for you and not others. It seems so, because you are making progress. You’re learning things and feeling pretty cool. It feels every bit like you’re really getting somewhere, yet you’re vaguely aware that other people undertaking the same endeavor would probably not consider your strategy adequate. Years later, when the thing you were trying to make happen did not happen, you may or may not reflect on why.

My daily hour-long walk

There have been times I’ve recognized this mistake in others, at least. A few years before my French campaign began, I had a guitar teacher who was an excellent player and a horrible teacher. He would cancel every other lesson a few hours before, and take fifteen-minute phone calls in the middle of my 30-minute lessons. He was also very overweight and said he was determined to lose a hundred pounds. During my lessons (and perhaps those of other students) he would often drink a 32-ounce protein shake, and he recommended to me a kind of “high protein bread” that he said was really working for him. I didn’t know much about macronutrients back then, but I sensed he would not achieve his goal.

I’ve always been a regular gym goer, about 50% of the time at least, but even during my regular stints I never quite stuck to the recommendations. I would select a popular program, immediately make substitutions for the harder lifts, not do quite as many sets as recommended, and miss a day here or there, once or twice a week.

Yet — I made progress! My way worked. I was definitely healthier and stronger. The fact that my progress was relatively slow and intermittent didn’t occur to me, because I had nothing to compare it to. Meanwhile others around me were dutifully doing their three to five sets with heavy weights, and staying in the gym for much longer. Why were they so obsessed? You don’t need that many sets! I don’t, at least.

Zero-carb bread

After employing one of these “I am a special case” shortcut strategies for a long time, you may or may not attribute your eventual failure to achieve your vision with the fact that you insisted on not doing it the way the successful people told you to. It may just feel like you organically lost interest, or “shifted priorities”, or that the real breakthrough is still on its way.

Part of the problem with these unorthodox strategies is that they do often give you initial positive results, and that can make you feel like it’s going to take you somewhere. You do feel better when you add some vegetables to your diet, even if you change nothing else. You will get stronger if you start lifting weights randomly at the gym, and you will learn some measurable quantity of French if you do flash cards a few times a week for a month.

But you probably began with the desire for a real transformation, of the type you see others achieving, and it can take a surprisingly long time to notice that that isn’t happening. “Progress” may be happening, but your goal isn’t.

I don’t play scales, the scales play me

Recently I’ve begun experiencing a pattern of epiphanies in various areas — productivity, health, learning — wherein I finally stop doing a thing in my special shortcut way that “works for me.” Instead I start doing it the way people successful in those areas do it, and suddenly I experience strong and consistent results, for the first time in my life.

Oh! It turns out that if you wash the floor with a bucket and cloth regularly, your floors always look great. If you try to get by with Swiffering and spot-cleaning, they look ok, at least half the time, ignoring a few trouble spots.

Oh! It appears that if you lift weights with high intensity for a moderate number of sets, and you don’t skip workouts, you keep getting stronger and fitter, like all those strong and fit people. If you just get your couple of sets done, most of the time, a good part of the year, you feel fitter than you otherwise would have, much of the time.

It’s like a gold mine, this secret of actually doing things the recommended way. I highly recommend it. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?


Photos by Romain Virtuel, Pauline Loroy, Sam Solomon, Bruno Kelzer and Bermix Studio

Mark Cancellieri March 12, 2024 at 12:12 pm

This reminds me of an article that Scott Young wrote a few years ago titled “Do the Real Thing.”

The best way to learn a language is to speak it (the “real thing”) rather than study it.

The funny thing is that this is the way we learn our native language, and yet few of us think to use this strategy when learning a second language.

I’m guilty of this. I studied Spanish in high school, and I have a pretty decent vocabulary, but I can’t speak it to save my life. I never did the real thing.

David Cain March 13, 2024 at 8:31 am

Ah I like that way of putting it. In the One Big Win course, there’s a checkpoint early on, where you’re supposed to ask yourself “Am I really doing it?” — as in, are you actually doing the thing you intended to do yet (e.g. declutter the house, build the website, etc.) or are you still “preparing” to do it? It’s easy to get caught up in activity that is not quite doing the thing.

Alan March 12, 2024 at 5:20 pm

So true, there really aren’t any shortcuts in life. If you want to be good at anything, you have to take the same path that everyone else successful has done.

I forget this myself quite often, but thanks to this article, it reminded me I definitely need to focus on taking the proper steps to achieve my goals.

David Cain March 13, 2024 at 8:35 am

I suppose there are possibly undiscovered shortcuts out there, but the path that we’re trying to “shortcut” around is typically the path that’s regarded by experts as the shortest path. Innovation is possible, but your best bet is that the tried-and-true path is the closest thing we know of to a straight line.

Ron Geraci March 13, 2024 at 2:58 am

This is a wonderful article. I’ve wasted years in magically thinking that “making progress” on something would magically result in achieving the main goal. My definition of progress included the (much easier) actions around the edges or further down the road from wherever I was, such as creating a marketing plan for a content website that still had no content, or paying lawyers to do legal things that I would “eventually need” in some future imagined state. After all, I would think, progress is progress, and if I look at the entire project as one big mosaic, what was wrong with filling in the outer edges first? if you have to eat an elephant, one bite at a time, what does it matter where you nibble from at any given moment?

But all I was really doing was finding ways to avoid doing the harder “core” stuff (which, coincidentally, was the very stuff that people who had achieved similar goals were telling me I needed to do first) that would actually make the project advance in a real way — which was scary because real advances meant I could realize I was in over my head or reality could destroy the perfect thing I had all worked out in my brain — and then where would I be?

Your article really hit home for me because understanding the difference between legit-sounding progress and real progress toward a meaningful end is something that I wish I had put much more thought into earlier in my life.

Thanks again for another great piece, David.

Sarah March 13, 2024 at 3:23 am

Ron is right! If you do the thing in the right way then you’re faced with possible real barriers or limitations to your vision. That is scary! Doing the thing in an unconventional way means your limitations don’t matter! You can skip the hard bits! So fun! This is a really great article and I am so happy to have read it and the comments this morning. Thank you.

David Cain March 13, 2024 at 8:47 am

Thanks for this comment Ron. That’s definitely a factor for me. I sometimes avoid going right for the goal because it will actually test me and I might find out I can *never* do it, which would be devastating. But the alternative is to never do it because you never really tried to.

What I’ve found so far is that the direct approach is often easier, if you ever really do try it. It’s less work and more gain. When you think about it, it makes sense, because it is in fact the best known shortcut.

ede March 13, 2024 at 3:22 am

Oof. This is fundamental And as it sinks in I feel like it’s grounding me. Thank you. The best things to learn, when it hits me in the mind and body as well.

David March 13, 2024 at 7:57 am

Quite insightful. I appreciate the self-disclosure and personal honesty too. Thank you, David.

Tara March 13, 2024 at 8:30 am

There’s a book I read many years ago called the long shorter way. That’s basically it in a nutshell: the so-called shortcut will actually take longer and not give the desired results. In the end doing it the right way is shorter because you do the hard things and get real results.

I learned French the right way when I was 11 and am still fully fluent at 58 years old, so I know it works.

Vicki March 13, 2024 at 10:01 am

I am in the midst of an unexpected job search.

I worry about the timing, the outfits I should own, does my haircut work? I consider if I like the locations, will my experience translate, if I have a good reference letter or not? Does the wording sounds better than a junior high schooler on my CV? I search indeed and the local job bank website and think about going to a local job fair…

I have not yet put on my (nicest) big girl pants, styled my hair and pounded the pavement of my town with my aspirations and my application and handed them to a real-life potential employer. What if I fail? What if no one wants me? What shall I do?

Who knows? I haven’t tried the real thing yet! Hmmm, perhaps it is time.

Thank you once again David, and all the commentors for the timely words.

David Cain March 13, 2024 at 10:17 am

I know it’s easy for me to say, but I’m sure you’ll do great. Here’s the aforementioned Scott Young post on “Do the Real Thing” I’ve just started reading it but it’s already right on the money.


Mary Lynn March 13, 2024 at 10:14 am

During early Covid I injured my quad and knee by trying to keep up with my teenage son on our bikes. It was so painful, and I was so disabled by it I thought no way am I ever coming back from this.

I did! By following exactly what my physiotherapist told me to do. Every exercise, the prescribed times per day, to the letter. I was motivated by the potential pain relief and could NOT believe how quickly I recovered.

No short cuts – do the real thing – it WORKS!

David Cain March 13, 2024 at 10:18 am

I will remember this for my next injury. I know I was given a list of rehabilitative movements when I hurt my ankle, and I totally didn’t do them.

Mary Lynn March 13, 2024 at 10:15 am

PS: your photos captions slay!

David Cain March 13, 2024 at 10:19 am

Thank you, they are my favorite part

Luca March 13, 2024 at 10:25 am

Wonderful post David! Especially relevant for me now that I am learning to meditate my own shorcutted way :) It’s easy, since there seems to be lots of different options. How long a day? From 5 min to 1 hour. Object of meditation? Ahh there are so many to choose from. And so on and so forth. Easy to customize the learning process to make it easy and unauccessful. Maybe I should make hard and successful? ;-)

Rusty S. March 13, 2024 at 11:27 am

An example of attempted shortcuts is speed reading — getting something done in a shorter time period. But what are the trade-offs? It may be a quick fix when cramming for an assignment, but does it also train your mind to rush? For general reading, it’s much worse. What’s the utility of zooming through a novel in an hour? The reader doesn’t get an opportunity to absorb. I often wonder what a speed reader does when they get to funny part — if they do an abbreviated laugh and move on? Or during a poignant scene, are their emotions hurriedly being tugged to get through the process? Even watching a YouTube video at x1.25 speed, you’re like to lose more than what you gain. The inflections and feelings of the speaker are not properly conveyed, among other things. So, it’s more than about accumulating and churning out something. Stopping to smell the roses has its own wondrous utility. We think reducing time and effort is a benefit, but generally it’s losing more in the long-term while achieving some fleeting short-term fix. Advertisements talk about the allure of their program being “easy”, as if being able to be lazy were a great selling point. Expending effort is a reward of its own. Also known as life, where there really are no fundamental shortcuts for achieving anything meaningful.

Anna March 13, 2024 at 12:10 pm

I spoke to someone the other day that told me he had speed read… The power of now! I couldnt believe it… its only one of the greatest books of all time… you can’t speed read Eckhart Tolle… i asked him what he thought of it… he said he couldnt remember ! That said it all. ;-)

David Cain March 13, 2024 at 1:56 pm

I briefly tried speed reading and while I could see that it might have some applications, you’re definitely right that you’re not getting the same thing out of reading that way. Imagine someone who *only* speed-read — they would miss the joys of reading almost entirely.

Mike March 13, 2024 at 12:58 pm

Hi David. Thanks again! I appreciate your real and relatable posts. I noticed that you mentioned epiphanies in relation to productivity. I am, as I type, sitting with “How To Do Things” sitting in front of me. I purchased this years ago – printed it – and it’s been buried on my desk until last week. I’m interested to know if any of these epiphanies would change what you say in this guide. Thanks!

David Cain March 13, 2024 at 2:04 pm

I don’t think my recent insights would change anything in the book, no. Working in Blocks is one of the contributing factors to my recent productivity breakthroughs. The block method makes it crystal clear that you get WAY more done when you fixate on the task and outcome exclusively, and don’t allow yourself to intersperse the “real thing” of the work with diversions, daydreams, and irrelevant side-tasks like checking email while you’re “working” on something else.

Pamela Olson March 13, 2024 at 1:27 pm

It’s an absolute slog learning languages “the hard way” — by actually using them in real life. Messy, indeed. It takes all your brain power, and you still screw up and stumble. Just to buy a damn cup of coffee! With people who never asked to be some language trainee’s guinea pig.

The worst place to do this is probably France, actually. Best? By far the Arab world. If I would so much as say two words in Arabic, they would switch to English and say, “Ah, you speak Arabic better than me!” And not sarcastically. With nothing but friendliness and appreciation for your attempt.

I was fluent in “sit in the back of a cab and talk like a native until your vocab runs out” Arabic in no time!

(You can read about it in my book, Fast Times in Palestine, which is free to download on my website: pamolson.org)

Bridget McKenna March 21, 2024 at 11:50 am

I just bought your book, and I’m enjoying it very much.

Georgia March 13, 2024 at 1:49 pm

“It’s like a gold mine, this secret of actually doing things the recommended way. I highly recommend it. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?”

Exactly. Great story, David. I like your method of weaving the story throughout each example in a way that is not AAD (all about David); instead, you present your story with words that may have come from many of your readers. When we are Too Smart For Our Own Good — https://georgiapatrick.substack.com/p/are-you-too-smart-for-your-own-good –it might take longer to do things the recommended way.

Bruno March 13, 2024 at 1:54 pm

There is a saying that I read recently and changed my perspective about the Learning process and is helping me a lot to overcome plateau of the learning curve: “Resistance is the compass”. self explaining.
In Learning languages, I used to avoid or “leave it for later” some practices like, reading native texts, or roleplaying speaking, because my mind intuitively concluded that was hard and/or tiresome and blabla, but those were exactly some things that I need to face it to improve my current knowledge.
In the other hand of the article, If the person is conscious about the proven efficiency of the traditional way of learning, but anyway, wanna try a new methodology, I guess is ok to explore it, otherwise there would be never a new (and maybe better) methodology, but always being careful that you will be able to compare with the traditional if its really better or not, otherwise, it will be another wasted shot in the dark.

David Cain March 13, 2024 at 2:22 pm

I’ve encountered the “resistance is the compass” notion in a number of places, and I think it’s really useful. We evolved to see paths of least resistance, but resistance marks exactly the place we can’t yet get to easily, and much of that difficulty is because it we are keeping it unfamiliar by avoiding it. “The obstacle is the way” is another form of it.

Jill March 13, 2024 at 10:37 pm

Hey David — I love your captions. ‘Low-carb bread’!! They have a whimsical character and detonate an unexpected joke between the image and the words. You may not think of yourself as a ‘skilled caption-writer’, but you’re unusually good


David March 14, 2024 at 2:24 pm

I enjoy any writing assignment that is extremely short

Joel March 14, 2024 at 12:59 pm

This is me basically, exactly. I’m hugely confronted by this now in almost 12 months of being on my own consulting and starting a newsletter about quitting and starting a business. There are a million best practices out there for creating a structured approach to work, being intentional, writing down goals for each day, being organized, holding yourself accountable, etc. and I’m constantly wiggling out of them for my “own way” of doing things that “seems” effective but ignores basically what everyone else says to do. A daily battle.

Angela March 14, 2024 at 10:42 pm

I really enjoyed this one. Thanks for sharing, David.

Jay Eleanor March 15, 2024 at 4:38 am

I could feel the excitement in your words as you described a camping trip. Can’t wait to experience it for myself and bring my camping tools.

Sophia March 15, 2024 at 6:09 am

So — I feel like I get the point of the article, and it’s something I want to chew over, and I think I’ll probably get something out of the idea. There are probably times when shortcuts are long-cuts and the best way is the standard way.

At the same time, as an antidote to the mind’s tendency to find dogmas, I want to point out some counter examples from my life.

I learnt German in my own way: first I studied 2000 anki flashcards, then I muddled through the entirety of Harry Potter in German, relying on my memory of the English version, then I watched the entirety of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood in German with German subtitles on Netflix. After that, I could start having conversations (I live in Germany) and my German progressed naturally. I now speak fluent, if imperfect, German and have friends with whom my “default language” is German. (My only lament is I never actually studied the gender/cases properly, like a normal person would). A lot of people live in Berlin and never learn German. The standard way, I think, is to go to lessons.

I have spent most of my life working on my spiritual development. I’ve never been disciplined, in fact dislike the idea of discipline. The “standard way” to do spiritual dev is to meditate for a set amount of time a day. I have had phases of that, but mostly didn’t. Instead I focused on what seemed helpful at a given moment (the Power of Now, Ayahuasca, ceremonial cacao, psychic dev, alchemy, embodiment etc etc) and tried to follow my intuition.

A year and a half ago I had a breakthrough in a retreat and since then my life is fundamentally different. I have the experience of bliss and transcendental joy and beauty fairly frequently, feel deeply connected to my guidance through synchronicities and direct intuitions, and my manifesting power is a dream come true. I have loads of cool manifesting and synchronicity stories, and i love it :) I would also say this time since the retreat is the first time in my life I could generalise as “happy” (much of my life was bitterly painful, mostly due to my internal suffering and not outside events).

I decided to self teach myself NVC (Nonviolent Communication). The standard way to learn is to go to trainings. I did, in the end, but did not find them to be fundamental to my learning, and was generally disappointed, with a couple of exceptions. Before I went to even one training, I reached an advanced level by obsessively watching Marshall Rosenberg’s videos and contemplating their meaning, as well as putting NVC into practice in my extremely difficult romantic relationship. Over my first year, our relationship went from weekly screaming rows to no rows whatsoever. (Conflicts yes, but they wouldn’t escalate beyond a certain point). One of my friends who I exchange with, an old hat in NVC, said that my NVC skill is world class; another friend I exchange with said that what I was able to teach him was one of the first times he felt like he could learn something new in about ten years.

Ah, yoga: I just could not make myself go to yoga classes. Yoga classes have brought me to tears multiple times. Instead, I have been picking up asanas here and there. I consistently do some yoga every day. I may not be a master, but at least by learning to trust my own way it became POSSIBLE for me to do yoga. (I followed my intuition in starting yoga veeery slowly, at first just one or two asanas a day to work through my difficulty with it, and this was a key preparation for my spiritual awakening experience mentioned above, I think). I believe that I am closer to the spirit of yoga, and getting more benefit, from my way which ensures I stay embodied, than anyone who disassociates by forcing themselves to follow a teacher’s instructions. (Not saying it’s always dissociation, but I believe it is for some, and following my inner flow is on the flip side a very powerful way to be embodied).

I think the common denominator here was a high level of natural motivation, which allowed me to activate my natural learning. Trusting in my intuition in how to go about things was absolutely key.

Of course, sometimes you don’t have to reinvent the wheel :)

David March 16, 2024 at 11:07 am

I suppose getting to dogmatic about “right ways” is a problem on the other end that should be considered. The distinction I’m trying to illuminate isn’t so much between conventional and unconventional as it is between making a genuine and direct attempt at something and doing it in a roundabout, compromised way.

Pipsterate March 17, 2024 at 1:32 pm

I think you’re being slightly too hard on yourself. Becoming fluent in a foreign language, as an adult, is notoriously difficult, so failing to do so isn’t some kind of special shortcut or unique failing. It’s extremely typical, and in many cases actually a wise course of action. I even know some people who have lived in America for years or decades and still aren’t exactly perfect English speakers, which is regrettable, but it goes to show how difficult the task is.

The other thing to remember is that there is always, I repeat, ALWAYS a more serious way to do whatever thing you’re doing. Some people want to learn a language, but don’t even start. Some people start, but don’t sign up for a class, or don’t stick with the class, or don’t do all their homework, or don’t practice with native speakers. Some people do all that, but don’t actually go to a foreign country. Or they do, but don’t stay there long. Or maybe they move there permanently, but don’t cut off contact with all speakers of their original language. It gets discouraging to think about all the things you should do to get truly good at something, when maybe all you actually wanted to do in the first place was learn how to pronounce boeuf bourguignon.

Now, I admit I am quite a lazy person, and I usually put much more effort into rationalizing why I’m not doing something than it would take to simply do it, so I’m not saying my approach is the best by any means, but the way I see, even for the least lazy person on earth there is still the fundamental constraint that there are only 24 hours in a day. So if it takes an hour of daily practice, that means you can learn a maximum of 24 languages (25 if you include your native), leaving you unable to speak thousands of others. So the real issue to me isn’t motivation, and it isn’t method, but rather prioritization.

There’s also the matter of talent. People say it’s wrong to think you can substitute talent for hard work, and perhaps they’re right. But I wonder if it might be an even bigger mistake to think you can substitute hard work for talent? When someone is truly good at something, whether it’s music or drawing or sports or most other things, they usually showed natural aptitude from a young age, and they usually took joy in doing the thing itself, rather than practicing for the extrinsic goal of becoming the type of person who is good at that type of thing.

Basically, I think that before asking what is the best way to get good at a skill, there are a few more important questions to ask first.

1) How much potential do I have to be good at this?

2) Do I actually need to be good at this, and if so, how good?

3) Is my potential high enough to get as good as I need to be, ideally without torturing myself or neglecting other important priorities?

It sounds like in the case of learning French, you had fairly strong potential but not a lot of actual need. I’ve had cases like that, or cases where I had the need but not the potential, or a bit of both but just not quite enough to clear the bar.

Sticking with the example of French, I think it’s an area where I have neither much potential nor much need, so I’ve been considering setting myself a very modest goal. Just to be able to spell and pronounce French words not completely wrong, to understand the very basics of the grammar, and to just generally exceed the absolute minimum expectations of French fluency for an American. I also have both limited potential and need to get good at lifting weights or playing guitar, so I plan to prioritize those even less than learning French.

Anyway, I’m not exactly trying to contradict the post, since I think it’s good advice for if you’ve already made up your mind to become excellent at something. I just feel that the whole general hustle culture and self improvement ethos on the internet can get carried away, leading to unrealistic/impractical expectations. It’s a harsh reality but I think the truth is that most people can only really become excellent at one or two things, if even that, and we don’t necessarily have much control over what those things are.

David Cain March 19, 2024 at 10:25 am

Language learning is difficult but it’s just one of many possible examples. There are things I knew I could have done to learn the language, and I didn’t do them, because I rationalized that I didn’t need to. The same principle holds for many other things, and they aren’t all that difficult. Cleaning the floor properly is relatively easily, for example.

Pipsterate March 19, 2024 at 10:43 am

Fair enough, I might be getting too caught up on the language example. I can see how this principle could be very useful when applied to goals that are more relevant to my own life.

Segs B March 20, 2024 at 2:00 am

Hahaha! Great article! I feel called out about swiffering and spot cleaning!

Tim March 21, 2024 at 3:05 pm

I am going to push back a little. When this came through my e-mail, I largely agreed, but peeking at the website I see the image in the header and it brought up a different perspective.

The image is a dirt path going up an embankment. It appears to cut over an overpass. In my early 20’s I spent several years living in a medium sized midwestern city without a car, instead relying on busses, a bike, and my own feet. I also spent some time giving input on a committee for city planning that incorporated bikes and pedestrians. From that personal experience, I can definitely say that most places are solely built with cars in mind.

Pedestrians and bikes are made to create their own shortcuts within a system not built for them. These paths develop so frequently that they have a name–desire paths–withing urban planning. Sometimes these paths are more effecient (think cutting across a lawn separating two big box stores). Sometimes these paths are simply more interesting (an unofficial hiking path 30 feet into the woods running parallel to a paved path). Basically, these desire paths show up when the built environment wasn’t created with pedestrians in mind. When these show up, we need to think about who the environment was built for.

I think similar things can happen in life. Systems are built and they do not work for everyone. In some cases those systems not working for everyone is purposeful. In those cases, shortcuts do seem to pop up.

David Cain March 22, 2024 at 9:30 am

Please don’t make too much of the image. Finding an image for a post is the last thing I do before publishing, and I hate doing it so I just try to find something vaguely tangentially related. It is so hard to find an image that illustrates what I’m saying in the post that I don’t even try any more. I just searched for “shortcut” and grabbed something.

Matt April 3, 2024 at 6:00 am

I agree on language, I had two years of Spanish and barely could speak any of it. When I lived in an environment where we had Spanish speakers working at the facility I lived and worked at, it helped a ton. It still didn’t do anything for rolling R’s or any accent until I became a Buddhist monk for a while. I had to sit daily with a monk who spoke almost no English, he was trying to teach me an ancient language called Pali and attempted to teach me Vietnamese. It made me learn how to speak English again, where my tongue is going and such. It erased what little accent I had in English, but I could now speak Spanish and roll R’s. I also can do it with a more native sound. Never could learn Vietnamese though, was a bridge too far. Tons of practice for sure helps, but also deliberate practice is even better with a guide or better understanding of the right way to do it.

SardarDarggiusha June 6, 2024 at 3:30 am

mzuic elmira

Comments on this entry are closed.

Desktop version

Raptitude is an independent blog by . Some links on this page may be affiliate links, which means I might earn a commission if you buy certain things I link to. In such cases the cost to the visitor remains the same.