Last Updated on July 1, 2024

Act before you think

As a chronic overthinker, I often struggle to get things done.

I can easily come up with hundreds of brilliant things to do for each thing I check off my to-do list.

But many of those “brilliant” ideas are untethered to reality.

In fact, I’ve found it works a lot better if I act first, and think later.

As I like to say, “You can’t refine a process you’re not doing.”

Now obviously if the situation is really dangerous, thinking first is useful.

But most of the time, we overestimate the danger of failure.

“You are so smart”

My whole life people have told me how smart they think I am.

That’s a nice thing to say.

But unfortunately this “person praise” has often put me in a fixed mindset.

I’m afraid to look dumb.

Because what if they are wrong about me, and I’m actually an idiot!

So I think and think and think about the “perfect” way to do something that will guarantee success…

…before I’ve even tried anything!

Many of my creative, neurodivergent clients do the same thing.

They procrastinate by creating detailed, brilliant plans for ultimate success.

But then they are too afraid to actually try the first steps.

Because what if they don’t work?

It would just prove their fears that they don’t have what it takes!

So doing things the “smart” way is sometimes not smart at all.

Especially when we overthink things and never try actually doing them.

Be dumb to be smart

Lately I’ve been experimenting with pretending I’m dumb.

I imagine I’m so dumb in fact, that the best I can do with my limited IQ is just bumble through life figuring things out as I go.

The funny thing is, this might be the smartest way to do it!

When I made 100+ TikTok videos in a few months, I had no idea what I was doing.

But I learned a ton about making short videos.

When I launched a coaching group in early 2023, I had no idea if I’d get even one signup.

But now it’s been going strong for 18 months!

Beginner’s Mind

When I act first, then my thoughts are relevant to what I’m doing.

All that creative energy can be channeled to the actual problems I’m encountering, rather than spinning off into endless hypothetical scenarios.

When I first learned to strength train, I literally bought a book called Strength Training for Dummies.

And then I took it to the gym with me!

I was willing to be a dumb dumb head, in public.

And because of that willingness to make a fool of myself, I learned a lot about strength training.

Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki called this “Beginner’s Mind.”

It’s an openness to learning, which means an openness to be wrong, to be a fool.

Have yourself a playful week of trying new dumb things and learning from them!

Take care,

 

 

 

~Duff
(they/them)

p.s. Many people find it helpful to have social support for cultivating a playful, experimental attitude. And that’s what people get from my Joy of Doing coaching group.

It’s only $47/month. Here’s what one person said recently about the benefits they’ve received (used with permission):

“I have learned so much. … I look forward to it every week. I’ve paid a lot more for other classes that I couldn’t even attempt. They weren’t good enough to get there. And, so [your class is] better than anything else I’ve done. …

“What I learned by being in this group is I look at more options now. I look at opportunities and options. It broadened my horizon that way. Making things smaller chunks, that was something I learned from … being in this class. And there’s a lot more!”

Learn more here.