Rewire Your Brain: Ditch Results-Oriented Thinking


I was only 16 years old.

And I was playing poker during school lunch.

Immediately after losing $20, I was caught by a teacher and sent to the assistant principal’s office.

My chicken patty was left unfinished, effectively leaving prime adolescent gains on the table.

But none of that bothered me compared to the words Ms. Boyenga uttered during our trek to Mr. Anderson’s office:

“You see, that’s why you should never ever gamble – because you can lose!”

My steps slowed down as I gazed at her, dumbfounded.

I wanted to tell her that Adam Le was a massive fish.

That AA is an 82% favorite over J-10 off suit.

That making decisions on sample size n=1 is a recipe for a miserable life.

But I was a good little authority-fearing 11th grade boy, so I saved my outrage for this Saturday afternoon blog post, 13 years later.


Why You Struggle to Lose Weight, Make More Money, And Analyze Decisions Properly

Results oriented thinking means making decisions based on outcomes rather than logic.

Let me give you an example:

You are a woman beginning a fat loss plan. You set a moderate calorie deficit and over the course of two weeks, you gain one pound.

You decide, based on the result of that trial, that calorie counting “doesn’t work for you.”

But what really happened was you began your plan on the 17th day of your monthly cycle. So while dropping 3 pounds of body fat, you retained an extra 4 pounds of water weight.


Red Or Green?

Nothing like an exciting pie chart to really make this post a home run!

One more example: Your uncle Larry closes his eyes and prepares to throw a dart at this board from close range.

Jason, your results-oriented friend, says “I bet you $1 he hits green.”

You take the bet, for no other reason than you are helping me formulate an example for this post.

We will assume Uncle Larry isn’t cheating or scamming.

He whips the dart at the board and against all odds nails red. This is bound to happen 1/8 times.

“Damnit!” Jason screams, “I knew I should have picked red!!!”

That is results-oriented thinking.


Results-Oriented Thinking Is EVERYWHERE

Posting more frequently on Youtube leads to more subscribers.

So, I have been posting a video every single day.

But guess what… in the short run, I don’t always get more subscriptions!

In the long run however, I do.

This concept is relevant in gambling, scale weight, the stock market… even an overinvestment of public funds for security resulting from one-off events or a swaying in the popularity of a political party resulting from a previous president’s tenure.


What To Do Instead: Focus On Process and Behavior

In the long run, results are telling.

If the scale doesn’t move and your body fat percentage doesn’t change after six months, you’re doing something wrong.

But in the short run, results often do not correctly indicate whether or not you are behaving optimally.

Focus on the process instead: hit your macros, execute proper form, eat plenty of produce, and get enough sleep. Ignore things like scale weight or how your stomach looks in the mirror on the sixth day of your new regimen.

In Conclusion: The Story Of A Fish

Adam Le went all-in with only an 18% chance to win the hand.

He won!

Does that mean he made the right decision?

If you answered ‘of course not’ you are correct.

Results-oriented thinking is lazy, immature, and will make your life worse.

Don’t do it.

Focus on the process.

PS: if you’re reading this, Ms. Boyenga, I want you to know that I got everything off my chest and I forgive you. You were a great substitute teacher with a good heart <3

PPS: Adam Le is also a good person and a wild jackel of a poker player – I respect his game.

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Comments for This Entry

  • Mendy fri

    Haha on forgiving ur substitute.

    June 19, 2016 at 10:22 am | Reply to this comment

  • Carter

    Awesome Post Mike... Loved the nerdy poker talk too :D

    June 19, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Tyler Davison

    Great article, Mike! I have often been discouraged by looking for resulting too soon after beginning a new workout/nutrition regimen. I am currently on week 3 of my current regimen and still have to remind myself to focus on the process and behavior choices rather than the results in the mirror and on the scale. Thanks for the advice and encouragement!

    June 21, 2016 at 10:41 am | Reply to this comment

  • Lisa

    Very thought-provoking Mike. So, how does one analyze decision more properly in relation to process-thinking? What could Jason have done to be process-oriented, rather than results-oriented, in this uncle Larry story?

    June 22, 2016 at 10:09 am | Reply to this comment

    • B

      @ Lisa - he focused on the outcome rather than the fact he played the odds (arguably correctly). You can lose if you play the odds, it is the nature of probability and risk, but you will likely win in the long run. Don't get hung up on the initial outcome of your choices or adverse results.

      July 6, 2016 at 6:17 pm | Reply to this comment

      • Lisa

        @ B - Thank you for your comments. :) I tried to reply to your reply, but it wouldn't let me. I seem to fall into the results-oriented thinking a lot, yet I know logic/principles guide. I'd like to learn more, maybe practice more is a better way, how to make better choices based on processes. Maybe that's why I want to give up sometimes, because my brain is focused on the results I don't have yet...

        July 10, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Graham Scott

    Mike - I'm 69 years old and recently retired from my work as a youth probation officer - retirement has been difficult for me and I've put on 10lbs so now at 160 at 5'5" - any ideas - mostly I wanted to tell you that I really appreciate your utube videos and have come to respect you as an individual - you are downright likeable - wish you much success

    July 7, 2016 at 3:21 am | Reply to this comment

  • Becky Wilkins

    Mike, just wanted you to know that you are a very talented writer. Go with it! Your message is incredible. We do a hormone information night once a month in our medical spa and I always play your video " why fitness matters". It's fabulous and it has an impact. Keep it up Becky

    July 7, 2016 at 10:04 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Jon

    This is ties in super heavy with what I tell people who ask me about what I do. Success doesn't come overnight. Gary V always talks about patience (learned about you from him by the way; you guys have a good synergy together). Well, it's true. It's taken me 3 years to finally reach a point where i'm seeing solid, consistent results in my projects. Good stuff man. How long have you been creating content?

    July 8, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Gul Muhammad Taherani

    Thank you for this Mike! Really needed to read this :)

    December 24, 2016 at 4:54 am | Reply to this comment

  • Debra

    I needed to read this so much! "Focus on process and behavior". After trying for a week to count and track and workout out consistently, my scale betrayed me this morning. This was a great reminder that as long as I am sticking with it, the results will come. Thank you!!

    March 24, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Hannah

    Mike, I absolutely eat up your content -- especially on YouTube. You always keep it "real", funny, and informative. Keep being you. :)

    September 2, 2017 at 7:03 pm | Reply to this comment

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