Do it first, then adjust based on experience

October 10, 2016 by Joshua
in Choosing/Decision-Making, Tips

I grew up analyzing and planning. I achieved a lot—a PhD, playing at nationals, the MBA, and a bunch of other things.

I get more done now. More importantly, I enjoy what I do now more. It’s more attuned to my values.

Instead of analyzing and planning so much, I figure out ways to start doing things.

Back then I would have worried about doing things wrong, which kept me from starting. I see many people inhibiting themselves from doing things for that reason.

I’ve learned the best way to figure out the best way to do something is by knowing more about the activity, and the best way to learn about the activity is through practice, which means the best way to figure out how to do something is to start doing it. I accept I’ll make mistakes, but I’ll learn from them and iterate.

I may take two or three tries to get it how I want, but those attempts will almost always cost me less time, money, and other resources than planning and allowing it to delay. I often gain resources with my first attempts, even when they don’t work. Teaching at NYU, for example, is making me money serving dozens of students per semester as I prepare my online courses to serve tens of thousands of students per semester.

Other examples of things I started without analyzing how to do them best, then adjusted after starting:

Several of these things became some of the most rewarding parts of my life.

I recommend doing it first, then adjusting after you start

Caveat: some things haven’t worked out. For example, working with an incompetent contractor and project manager who didn’t care about the final quality when the Sweeten ruined my floor, went over budget and over schedule.

Still, I think I needed mistakes like working with the person I knew at the Sweeten to find out where they lines were.

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