Part of my Knowledge Repository.
- There are two kinds of people in the world: People who actually do things, and people who don’t.
- To achieve a goal, this breaks down into two parts: figure out what needs to be done, and actually do it.
- Some part of is convinced that the main bottleneck for achieving my goals is being smart, coming up with the best plan, getting all of the necessarily information. And this is true! It doesn’t matter how good you are at doing things, if what you’re doing is crap. But it also doesn’t matter how good my plan is if I never act upon it.
- But I find that, unless I put in active effort, I’m the kind of person who’ll always have those thoughts. I’ll never actually act upon my goals, change things about my life.
- There won’t be a connection in my mind from “this is a problem” to “what am I going to do about it”.
- There seems to be a mental block between “things are not as I want them to be” and “I can actually do something about this”.
- Notice the small problems, and fix them. Notice when everyone isn’t enjoying what they’re doing, and be the first person to voice this. Notice when the jug of water is empty, and be the one to fill it. Notice when you say “oh, I can do this tomorrow” and do it today. Notice when you think “I should get round to this some time” or “I’ve always wanted to learn juggling” and actually do it. Notice when something is inefficient, notice the thing nobody is doing, and be the person who does it!
- The point of this, is that I avoid the paralysing perfectionism and uncertainty by changing the question I am answering. It doesn’t matter if I’m not doing the right thing, because what I’m doing isn’t that important. I can close off the paralysing thoughts, not by answering them on their own terms, but by realising that the choices I make today affect the kind of person I’ll be for the rest of my life.
- Figuring out the right thing to do is also a vital skill, but can come second. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Make it a point of principle to do things, not because the thing is necessarily the perfect action, but because I choose the life where I do things, over the life where I always wait for the perfect opportunity.
How I’m applying this
I absolutely needed to hear this advice this month. I very often find myself in a situation where I feel paralysed to act until I can gather more information and am stuck trying to ensure I never make mistakes or trying to time a situation perfectly. This ties in closely with Paul Graham’s How to do what you love and is one of my personal operating principles.