At around 1:57:00 in Tutoring Max #2, Elliot suggests that Max write down what he thinks overreaching is and how it works. I’ll try doing the same. I’m going from my memory/existing conceptions and am not reviewing any material., so this might be mostly or totally wrong. I’ll review material and compare my writing to it later. I am doing it this way (without any review) because getting a baseline for what I already know about the topic and what misconceptions I have seems like a good idea. Any errors are obviously my own.
Overreaching is when you try to do something for which the number of errors you make exceeds your capacity to correct those errors. The result is a failure to succeed in achieving some goal.
If you try to write a complex essay or other piece of writing in a language you only partially know, that’s likely overreaching. You’ll be making all sorts of errors - regarding the use and meaning of words, or grammar, or syntax, or even writing/typing out the letters correctly. What you need to do is go and basically learn the language more instead of trying to write stuff in the language with insufficient skill.
If you try to bake bread but you don’t understand stuff like how yeast can die and how you can check if they are dead (or reduce the chances of having dead yeast in the first place), or the importance of precision in weighing ingredients, or how moist the dough should be, or various other things, then things may go wrong with your bread project. So if your goal is to actually successfully bake a certain kind of bread and not something else (like having a bunch of funny-looking failures at baking bread you can post to your Instagram), then you are overreaching if you proceed with the bread project without some learning more things. Things will likely go wrong and you won’t know what to do to fix it. Baking bread also has long cycles (can take a few hours) before you get feedback.
You can learn more and expand your capacity to correct errors in various fields. So I think that overreaching always exists relative to a context of some knowledge. If you had enough additional relevant knowledge, you wouldn’t be overreaching when trying to achieve some goal. Overreaching also exists in a context of having some goal. You could do the same basic activity, with the same knowledge, but with a different goal, and not have it be overreaching. For example, if you honestly just tried to write an essay in a language you think you’re shaky with the goal of just seeing how far you can get (and not with the actual goal of writing a good piece of writing), then that’s not overreaching. But you need to know what your goals are, and not change your goals if things go badly.
You can fix overreaching by gaining more relevant skill or by picking goals more compatible with your current skill. What you don’t want to do, though, is to keep trying to accomplish goals that you can’t handle given insufficient skill. You also don’t want to lie to yourself about what your goals are.