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TB#45: The Art of Now: Break Free from the Waiting Game

2023-11-25

Let’s talk about the art of now. And not a second later.

The world is full of opportunity right now. And while that’s good news for you and me, it’s also a source of pain.

Do something, and you’ll still feel like missing out on everything.

And when you start thinking on what everything you’re missing out on, you’ll end up in a cycle of shiny object syndrome and zero focus.

And somewhat counter-intuitively in that state it’s easy to resort into just planning everything but not doing anything.

Let’s talk about the pain first.

Why Waiting = Pain

It’s a safe feeling, doing nothing is. Just waiting and mistaking planning for action.

But wait long enough and you’ll miss all the opportunities.

And if you keep waiting and not taking any shots, what are the chances you’ll ever hit a home run?

Thinking, analysing, overthinking + no action. This is where we often find ourselves.

And all those moments could’ve been used to fail, grow and reflect.

Let’s just admit it: Fear of the unknown is at least as strong as fear of missing out.

Why try something new when you can just dream about here and now.

“I’ll do it, one day.”

Logically, somewhere deep down, you know that day never comes if you’re habitually just waiting!

Here’s what I want you to do:

  • Start taking calculated risks by doing at least something new every month
  • Choose your new things so that failing is ok
  • Don’t worry

Do all this, and it’ll lead to unexpected wins and pleasant surprises, together making you grow professionally and personally.

Gotta love it!

But wait, if it’s that simple, why aren’t more people doing it?

Simo come one!

Well…more people don’t do it because we’re all just human.

Why we Wait

We’re walking bio-machines full of biases and fallacies.

So I went to my good friend GPT-4 to ask what are they key biases most guilty for the game of wait-and-hope-for-something-to-happen-which-you-know-will-not-happen-anyway.

Here’s the top 3 (out of the dozens it spat out) that I think are most closely relevant to what I’m seeing in myself at least:

Analysis Paralysis: The more we analyze, the more we tend to get stuck in the endless cycle of overthinking. The fear of making a mistake holds us back, and we find ourselves waiting for the “perfect” solution that might never come.

Loss Aversion: The fear of potential losses often trumps the desire for potential gains. Waiting to avoid losses, however, can lead to missed chances for growth and success.

Regret Aversion: The dread of making a decision that we might regret later can paralyze us. This leads to waiting for a moment of absolute certainty that seldom arrives.

Thinking too much, and just being scared of the little losses we might have to go through when taking action – these I can easily identify in myself.

Sound familiar to you?

Now, the losses are not just measured in money: time, resources or even just effort are all forms of losses. Not to mention the good old loss of your reputation, in the form of “what will they think of me if I fail?”

(hint: nothing, they think of nothing)

A Strategy for Deliberate Action Bias

I start a lot of projects.

The ones that MOVE forward all tend to share the following footsteps:

Step 1: Clearly articulate your goals and objectives. What constitutes “ready” when you’re building/completing it?

Step 2: Break down your larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks. This minimizes the feeling of overwhelm and gives you a sense of progress from day 1.

Step 3: Set aside time blocks for your project, in your calendar and not just in your head, and stick to those blocks.

Step 4: Take the first step (you’d be surprised how easy it is to never even start…)

Step 5: Be public about your project. If it’s private, it’s too easy to give up. To save money, effort, face and all that we already discussed about…

Waiting is not safe.

Waiting is the riskiest thing you can do.

So why wait?

Recap of The Box this Week:

  1. Waiting is a source of pain
  2. Humans are designed against action (biases, fallacies)
  3. Fight against it, act now by taking simple steps and being public about your project

About the author 

Simo Hosio  -  Simo is an award-winning scientist, Academy Research Fellow, research group leader, professor, and digital builder. This site exists to empower people to build passion projects that support professional growth and make money.

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