Skip to content

Fast-Tracking Progress With a Quarterly Review, Part 2: Feedback

3 min

Better Questions is supported by readers like you. If you get value from my writing, consider becoming a supporting member. Exclusive content, weekly deep-dives, free beta-access to future courses and more. Thanks.


All improvement comes from feedback loops.

In our last email, we talked about the difference between proximal and distal causes. We worked on better-understanding that the root causes of our problems may not be what they seem.

Once we've understood our problems, how do we make positive change?

Often, when trye make BIG changes. We change lots of stuff, all at once - we're cutting calories and "eating clean" andintermittent fasting and working out.

But change is hard, and hard things carry a cost. Even if the activity is free, you incur the cognitive cost of thinking about it, making changes in your behavior, and struggling with motivation. Those costs add up, and when they get to be too much to bear we collapse. It all feels like it's "too much."

Big changes, all at once, aren't sustainable. So what's a minimal, sustainable, effective way of making change?

Building reinforcing feedback loops.

Feedback loops are behind every runaway hit and viral moment, every stock market crash and ethnic conflict. Feedback loops are everywhere, once you know where to look...and they are powerful beyond imagining.

What is a feedback loop, exactly?

It's any relationship where the input to a thing affects the output from that thing.

For example:

The money I add (input) to my bank account (the thing) generates more interest (output), which in turn adds more money (input) to the bank account. More money means more interest which means more money.


You punch me (input), which damages our relationship (the thing). That damaged relationship makes me angry, and I punch you back (output), which damages our relationship even more. More punching means more hurt feelings which means more punching.

This kind of reinforcing feedback loop can lead to exponential growth - or a sudden, inexplicable collapse. Use feedback loops for good and you will make faster progress than you imagined possible.

To build a feedback loop inside your life, you’ll need a few things:

First, you’ll need a goal - a state against which you can compare your current situation. This could be a specific number (“I want to weigh 150 pounds”) or a direction (“I want get bigger every week”).

Secondly, you’ll need a way of measuring progress - a method of understanding your current state. If you don’t have a scale, it’ll be hard to understand if you’re moving towards your goal.

Finally, you’ll need a way of adjusting your inputs. For weight, you can eat more, or less. For business, you can dial up marketing to get more leads, or cut expenses to improve profit margins.

If you change what you eat to lose weight, which makes you feel better, which causes you to lose more weight…that’s a reinforcing feedback loop.

If you grow your business, which means you have more money to invest in growing your business, that’s a reinforcing feedback loop.

If you work on your social skills, which makes you more popular, which means you get invited out more often, which gives you more opportunities to improve your social skills, that’s a reinforcing feedback loop.

If you take your medication, which helps to address your depression, which makes it easier to stick to a plan, which allows you to take your medication more regularly, that’s a reinforcing feedback loop.

Building this kind of self-reinforcing loop into any system you create is the secret to perpetual growth. That’s why there are multiple loops inside the Quarterly Review Process I’m going to share with you.

There’s a catch, though.

Actually, there are two catches:

One has to do with timing.

The other has to do with correction.

We’ll deal with those next week.

Until then,


Cool Stuff To Read:

Concentrate! What can we learn about focus by studying chess grandmasters?

More and more, I feel that the ability - even the right - to focus is being infrgined upon. That the entry, often sudden and uninvited, into the sphere of our awareness of any number of bad actors is the defining feature of the modern age.

Basically, get out of my brain. I'm trying to think (trying being the operative word).

Subscribe to receive the latest posts in your inbox.