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stories & adventures

Bouldering | Planners and doers

. 3 min read .

The other day I went for my usual weekly bouldering session. Geared up, stretched and stepped on the mat. Music on, world off.

Before I start on every root, I take a step back to study the route. But then you have these guys that glance at the route and hops on right away. Fails half way through but keeps trying. On the 4th time, he clumsily but successfully reaches the top. These are the DOERS:

“The rare person who is all propellant. No useful substance, no long-term strategy, simply short-term success based on an abundance of forward motion. If you work with someone like that, try to help them find their way… they’re not going to stop moving, but perhaps you can help them move in the right direction” — Seth Godin

DOERS just get started with no much plan of action, no end goal in mind. They have a view of the bottom of the route and hop on right away. Some have the skills to back them up and other's just keep trying and through the path they force themselves to skill up.

Then there are the people -usually the noobs- who have to have every move figured out before starting. These are the PLANNERS. They think that planning the route is necessary before starting but often times that acts like procrastination since they never start.

Made me wonder what the right strategy is...

How much planning is too much planning. How much doing is too much doing.

As with most things what has worked best for me when bouldering is a bias towards being a DOER. This means no more than 10 seconds of studying the route. I just spot the last bounder and trace my path back to the first one that is in front of me. Then I hop right on. I fail at at it repeatedly until I get it instead of preplanning what the perfect move will be and what could go wrong. I figured that since failing is safe, I can fail as many times as I want. The only thing I am losing is energy and time. But with the trial and error approach I found that I was learning much faster that then step back and study one. The error will give you 100 times more learning than the planning.

I found that this approach of jumping in without overthinking it holds true for any endeavor. Any hobby, any skill I like to learn, business decisions, everything.

Being biased towards action without too much thinking is one of these 'secrets' that is so obvious that it sounds trivial. But I found that it is the single thing that stops me every time from getting shit done. Because every time, the answers comes while working on the pursuit, and rarely in the abstract thinking and planning phase.

Instead of trying to have a perfect plan before starting any project, I now try to have a rough plan and then consciously start before I feel ready.

For example in the case of a software side-project I will now outline a vague idea of the end state a few months from now, then find the the basic (MVP) functionality of the app in the form of a note and gather some samples of inspiration. But no more than that. No elaborate strategic plan, no full on competitive analysis, no launch plan. Another example is learning photography. Instead of researching what the perfect equipment is on YouTube, then creating the perfect learning map and finding the best online course to learn about aperture and f stops; I just set a vague goal of the type of photos I would like to be able to take, find the next step to that goal, find a 15 minute tutorial on how to take great pictures of food, grab my smartphone and go out take some photos.  

I consciously focus on learning through the activity, in this case taking photos and designing the software app, I stumble all the time and at that point I take a step back to think and plan and then back I go again in the work.

Be biased towards doing and only be on-demand planning.
That is what has worked best for me.