How seeking “perfection” shifts your thinking

samfloy~5 November 2022 /Philosophies

I’ve been having a number of conversations with friends recently about things like careers, where to live, projects we are working on. I’ve been trying to work on my approach to tackling these sorts of things and thought I’d share my thoughts.

The way I would usually do this is to start with where I am and optimise the next move i.e. “I have been doing data analytics in my job, therefore a logical next step is to do a data science course” or “I live in X place and am earning Y, therefore lets look at what Y affords and choose the best one”.

Whilst this is better than nothing, I’ve found it to be quite limiting.

For me at least it can lead to well intentioned steps up a mountain I never wanted to climb. But from the vantage point of “what’s the best next step to take” it will almost always be along the path that brought you to where you are now.

Instead I now try to work backwards from “What does 10/10 look like?”

This means that you don’t get bogged down in the practicalities of how something will be done, but instead spend time thinking about (and validating) what it is that would really make you happy i.e. “I would like to earn a good living without working 40 hours/ week” or “I would like to live somewhere where I know my neighbours, have a garden and it’s easy to go for runs in a nearby forest”

I find this helps to surface things that will make you happy. You can then optimise around pursue these ideals, rather than whatever is most proximate.