Act before you think

Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

Think before you act.

This is sound advice at the face of it. After all, this is literally what separates us from animals who operate purely on instinct.

But sometimes this advice can be taken too far. The problem is that we need ‘something’ to think about, some basic premise or hypothesis, and this can’t be available unless we first take action.

Sometimes, we need to act just to generate options that we can then think about.

The kind of thinking we expect to do before deciding on our course is usually not possible before we have dipped our toes into the water. Good thinking is about realizing what facts matter and which ones don’t.

When our decisions are not grounded in practical action, we can subconsciously decide that something is not important simply because it doesn’t line up with our existing belief system.

Further, we are much better at thinking backwards—that is from the present to the past—than the other way round. We must make this facility work for us, rather than against us. Hindsight is 20/20, so why not use it to inform our decisions?

Moreover, we can’t think in abstractions. To accurately judge whether something is good or bad, we must make see it in the flesh. For instance, here is no better way to decide whether a business idea will work than to ask potential customers. Approaching action with a spirit of experimentation can help make decisions that are grounded in reality rather than feelings or hunches alone.

Action is a powerful source of information.

So whether you need to generate some options or simply get unstuck, don’t just try to think your way out of it. Act, even if just a little, and you will hopefully see the answers emerge on their own.

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Dhawal Sharma

Dhawal Sharma

I read like a man possessed | I write to understand the world | Twitter: @DhawalHelix