Mindset tools -from procrastination to bias towards action
Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off. How many are left?
Most people would answer “one,” but real-life usually gives us a different answer: “five.”
Because deciding to do something and actually doing it are two very different things.
There is a difference between what you have decided to do and actually doing it.
If I were to name the biggest change in my mindset that helped me advance in life, it would be mindfulness practice and meditation.
But there is also a very close second, and it’s the slow and bumpy shift from overthinking (also known as procrastinating) to taking small but continuous action.
I first encountered the term ‚bias towards action’ when I read a great book: ”Design your life.”
For many, many years, I had ideas. Some seemed like good ones, some maybe not. But the sad truth is, I wouldn’t even know because not many of them were put into action.
I basked in the idea-generating sun; I pondered, I would get excited about something, research it, then talk myself out of it.
I journaled a ton; I had a lot of incredible internal conversations, but, frankly, not much to show for the whole struggle.
So, what is a bias towards action?
Bias towards action, borrowed from design thinking, is simply a tendency to favor action over inaction. It boils down to not just having an idea, but actually taking meaningful action to move forward ( PROTOTYPING) – and gaining experience.
Think Elon Musk and his SpaceX.
These guys are not just sitting at their desks trying to design the perfect Starship to only launch it into space when it’s finished.
Instead, they’ve ‚waisted’ a ton of resources by launching their prototypes and blowing up quite a lot of ideas to learn a ton as quickly as possible.
Trying to avoid any and all mistakes may be the biggest mistake in life you could ever make.
And it’s a big one for all those deep thinkers and perfectionists out there who want to only take a well-calculated, deliberate next step, without ever falling down.
Just take a look at Jeff Bezos’ perspective on things:
“First, never use a one-size-fits-all decision-making process. Many decisions are reversible, two-way doors. Those decisions can use a lightweight process. For those, so what if you’re wrong? I wrote about this in more detail in last year’s letter. Second, most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.”
How do you get more of it?
- realize that most of our decisions are not a matter of life and death. In fact, most of our decisions are perfectly reversible!
- It never ceases to surprise me that so many people rush into a tattoo parlor or to an altar without thinking twice but would be too afraid to start a freelance career.
- in order to change just about anything in life, maybe, but for a couple of lightbulbs in your living room, you probably need a healthy dose of the growth mindset.,
Bias towards action: What does it do?
It helps you move forward faster. It makes you move AT ALL.
The problem of overthinking.
Don’t get me wrong – I ADORE thinking. And if anyone ever paid me for just sitting and thinking, I’d be gold by now!
But when, after pretty much all thinking and not doing for nearly 3 years, I looked around, and there was NOTHING to show for it, I paused, worried.
I realized I had to add some action into the mix, or else I would also have nothing to show 3 years from there.
However, the overthinking trap is real. It FEELS like by just thinking about problems or your next actions, you are actually doing something, and that in itself is REWARDING. Can you see a wonderful mix for addiction here?
Take home message
We learn faster by doing the things we want to learn and have immediate feedback on how we’re doing. (That is not to undermine the power of visualization that can be very beneficial ).
You can’t get that by just living a meta life of thinking about doing stuff.
Basically, you take action, you course-correct, and move forward.
No amount of just thinking (including the woo-woo-infused MANIFESTING) will get you that!
Have you ever accomplished something substantial without taking any action? Probably not.
Have you ever lost any weight by THINKING about the perfect diet?
Probably not. Would you try learning to drive or swim by just thinking about it? If so, good luck to you!
Stop just thinking about your ideas and start taking small, meaningful actions to move them forward.
Thinking may seem like a hard thing, but only until you try doing it.
The good news, however, is that doing also gets easier with, well, doing.
Adopt bias towards action, prototype, and get yourself on a feedback loop as fast as you can to learn quickly and correct mistakes as you go.
And, please don’t take it all too seriously; there’s simply no point. Overthinking stuff and going for perfection in a scenario where you are planted on a piece of rock hurtling through space is somewhat absurd.