Think twice, cut once — Why bad plans are better than none.
Getting started is the hardest part of doing something. Be it that company you’ve always dreamed of starting, a new hobby, or maybe even hitting the gym.
Once you do get started, you come to realize that doing it is even harder. However, since you’ve overcome that initial inertia and resistance, your effort is no longer perceived and has turned to something much more tangible. So, you’ll find it way easier to keep things going.
This adage is the principle behind “do first, figure it out later”, and in my experience, I’ve found this to be mostly true. A lot of people who’ve made it to the top of their fields have also had similar experiences, like content creators who say — “Just start posting. You’ll figure it out eventually”. Or, startup founders who start companies for the sake of working on something, intending to pivot into something more useful when this doesn’t pan out.
The omission to this though, and one thing most people don’t consider, is that doing this can limit your options. The higher the investment that’s already been put in (time, money, or otherwise) the less likely you are to start from scratch again.
For instance, once you start posting content and build an audience, it’ll be much harder for you to pivot into a different genre that has a higher potential for growth since your content and your audience will change. Or, let’s say you spend a few months and bulk of your resources in building a startup in finance. If this doesn’t pan out, unless you’re willing to invest the time and resources into building something from scratch (which is very unlikely), your options will be limited to something within reach. Like another product within finance, for example.
Doing things with tons of optimism and fearlessness of the unknown can get you very far, and it is faster than planning everything out. Planning everything to the T is a waste of time in most cases because it is impossible to account for all possibilities and circumstances. However, on the other hand, taking some time to think things through can save you months, or even years of wasted effort. Plan enough to know what your end goals are, and the milestones you need to hit to get there. Not only will this add a lot of clarity to the work you’re doing, but you’ll also have a better idea of the trajectory you’re on.
For example, let’s say you just completed uni and are searching for a job. It doesn’t make much sense for you to jump into the first opportunity you get. You may spend six months to a year working there only to realize that this isn’t a career path you want to get into. This is why doing some planning and research is very important, for had you done some work or spent a few months figuring out what you wanted to be working on, the directed efforts after that will be much more fruitful. On the contrary, some people may do this and find this career path to be the one they’ve always wanted, which is definitely a possibility. But, it’s also extremely unlikely. You’re more likely to keep spending that chunk of time over and over again till you hit your pot of gold. However, you can reduce the number of iterations you need by taking some time to think things through.
Putting things off till you plan everything out is bad idea, but so is starting anything without putting any kind of thought or research behind it. The middle ground would be to make a plan that gives you enough clarity and just going ahead and doing it.