Kristian Glass - Do I Smell Burning?

Mostly technical things

Make Decisions and Own Them

Decisions are scary. Opportunity cost is scary.

It’s easy to avoid decisions until your hand is forced – “Do I apply for that job? The deadline’s soon, but I’ll look at it next week”. Sure you’ve got a lot of stuff on, but make a conscious prioritisation decision like scheduling an explicit time, rather than procrastinating until it’s made for you.

It’s easy to avoid decisions by looking for consensus/approval. Getting input from others is important, whether the decision impacts them or it’s just for the benefit of their advice. Don’t use it as an avoidance tool though – “I wanted to do X but nobody seemed keen on it” is fundamentally “I decided to not do X”.

Making decisions is hard. It’s important to involve others in the process appropriately – unilateral steamrollered decisions can be as bad as doing nothing because nobody agrees.

You’re not going to make perfect decisions. There rarely is a “right” answer. Most things are complex and multivariate and you have no ability to accurately determine the results of deciding alternatively. This is scary. It’s rarely “what’s best” and more often “what tradeoffs am I willing to accept”. That’s hard because it forces you to explicitly acknowledge costs and costs can be scary.

Fortunately most things are also not fixed in stone.

You’re torn between studying law and being a writer? If you constantly vacillate between the two, sort-of attending classes etc while scribbling unfinished stories at the back of the lecture hall, never properly engaging in either, you’re probably going to have a less good time than if you make the conscious decision to e.g. dive completely into law at first because it needs more formal hoop-jumping whereas writing is easier to get into, or that you’re going to switch to a part time law degree and spend the time you gained properly engaging with your writing.

You’re not sure what framework you should use to build your next project? It’s worth considering your options, sure, but “just pick one and do it” will probably help you actually get it built sooner, and probably teach you more about what you’re building and what you need faster than any abstract investigation you do right at the start.

Yes sometimes things have a high cost of change, some things aren’t changeable at all, sometimes circumstances mess everything up. It’s probably easier to go study something that fascinates you full-time for three years when you’re 18 than when you’re 40. It’s not impossible though, and in the intervening time, you’ve probably gained a better idea of what it is you actually want, and potentially found alternate ways of achieving that.

A lot of decisions aren’t that big though. Either decide you’re going to the party and you’re going to have fun, or you’re not and you’re going to do something else instead. Embrace that. Showing up while counting down the time until you can leave, or staying home checking Facebook wishing you’d gone – those aren’t going to be good.

Whatever it is, making, accepting, and owning your decisions and their consequences is hard, but invaluable.

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