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Tiny Thoughts: What Would You Do If You Knew It Would Fail?

Tiny Thoughts: What Would You Do If You Knew It Would Fail?
Photo by Josh Marshall / Unsplash

Last week, we discussed how to prioritize what you work on.  Now, I want to to step back and help you consider what you should even spend your time doing.  What are the things you will do for the sake of doing rather than for some external reward?

In school, we often get the cliche advice to think about what we would want to do if we had won the lottery and didn’t need to worry about money.  The idea being, when money is an after-thought, you’ll spend your time doing something you love and that thing you love should just be your career from the start.  This advice is, meh.  It’s a useful exercise to learn more about yourself but doesn’t necessarily translate well to the real world.

Another approach here that I’ve found useful, is to think:

What would I do even if I knew it would fail?

What would still be worth it to do if you knew it wouldn’t work out.  This question forces you to think about other benefits than the obvious external motivators that might be obtained if your goal is achieved.

If you chose this project and it failed, would you learn anything?  The experience, the connections you make, and the skills you develop all could make a “failure” experience worthwhile.

Or perhaps you simply enjoy the process of certain activities.  If you failed to achieve your goal, would it still have been time well spent because you were enjoying yourself so much?  Maybe you were spending time with friends or family or maybe you simply were enjoying the relaxing solitude the pursuit of this goal provided.

When looking at how you want to spend your time and energy, consider what you would be happy to do even if you knew it was going to end in failure.