“A big opportunity is better than a small one, but a small problem is better than a big one.” – The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
One of the reasons we have challenges starting work is that we can’t visualize what success looks like in the short-term. As humans, we often don’t do or even start things we’re not good at. Procrastination can be that fear of failure getting in the way. We ask ourselves questions like: Where do I start? Is that the right place to start? When will I be done? What does success look like? How long will it take? etc.
In some circumstances, it is important to perform such planning. In others, it can completely stall our ability to start.
“We are kept from our goal, not by the obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.”
By breaking down goals into small problems, we are able to better prioritize, estimate and align activities to be successful. We also benefit from the happy feelings that dopamine gives us, which the brain releases when we complete tasks. It’s natures way of giving us the energy for the next round.
[tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]An Ounce of Progress Today Is Better Than a Pound of Planning Yesterday[/tweet_box]
I’m borrowing an old idiom on prevention and cure and adapting it slightly to apply here on success. “An ounce of progress today is better than a pound of planning yesterday.” Ironically, in many circumstances, our fear of success gets in the way of us being successful. In many cases, it is better to start anything today and learn as you go, than plan for a long period of time and never begin.
In software development, this is called an Agile Development Methodology. It’s based on the principle that teams can respond to challenges better by delivering smaller functions of product iteratively rather than attempt to complete the entire solution at once. Because of its success, it has become the de facto standard that most teams work by.
It would be overwhelming (and nearly impossible) to start everything tomorrow. However, with the right sizing and prioritization of opportunities and goals, we can at least start in the right direction and make adjustments as we go.