Obsessive Societal Disorder
This doesn't feel great to admit, but I have to. I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a common psychological disorder that prompts an individual to do things a certain way and feel anxious if they do not fulfill the intended goal in the intended order.
You might think it is simple, but trust me it's not. The unbridled anxiety that comes with not being able to shove things off one's mind or the frustration that comes when you are not fast enough to achieve your goals.
It's nothing short of mentally draining, but I have developed mind-hacking coping mechanisms and lifestyle changes like focus training and meditation. In short, I know I'm doing great because I can admit it and even write about it.
I have this pseudo theory that society is also obsessive, of course, that's why society exists right? To give the order. In my timid assumption, I call this Obsessive Societal Disorder(OSD), where members of a society subconsciously feel they need to do things in a certain manner, whether it's efficient or not.
One of the major proponents of OSD if you ask me is schooling. I think school amplified my compulsiveness and induce compulsiveness in others.
We go through school in terms of semesters and exit through exams. Since writing exams is demanding, there is a need for a lot of perfect preparation before attempting exams or else we risk failure.
There's this attitude of always wanting to be perfect before attempting to take action. This behavior when widespread among individuals culminates into a pattern of OSD. Depending on the context OSD might not necessarily be a bad thing but, OSD can prove to be stumbling when achieving our goals.
In the bible, Jesus spoke of a parable of workers that were given different amounts of talents to work with, and the last worker who didn't get as much as the others resigned to not use his talent.
I feel the reason the worker did not use his talent was not only because he felt his talents were too small, but he also felt that to be useful he needed to have as many talents as the others. He wanted to be perfect before starting.
Many people maintain a position that we can only become close to perfect by action, but many people don't put this into practice. Indeed, common sense is not common practice.
To take action, our first instinct when achieving a goal should not be to only analyze the resources we have at our disposal but to also analyze the way to use the resources we have, no matter the amount, to take action. Business professors call this Effectuation, a fancy way of saying start small.
To help with your OCD/OSD, you have to mind-hack yourself to believe that you are not separated from your goals for a period of time, but by a number of actions.
The Prep Paradox
No one likes to admit it, but prepping and real-time experience are two different experiences. How this plays out is you prepare a lot for something, practice scenarios quizzes, and simulate real-life experiences, but when once you try to attempt it in real life, your years of preparation look insignificant, and you have to start learning by doing.
This is evident in highly specialized careers like software development, where you spend time working through quizzes and code-along only to grovel in impostor syndrome as you look at your first open-source project.
The issue worsens when we think that to be good at something in real life, we have to prep for it and when we find out that we aren't as good in practice after prepping, we feel bad and stop prepping even take on more prepping without practice to be good enough to practice. We want to prepare to be good enough for real-life practice without doing real-life practice. This is what I call greedy planning.
To change this, we must prioritize real-life practice and action over just planning, studying, and analyzing. If at all you must plan, plan to take the smallest step, because taking the smallest step is more effective than years of grand planning.
Most people will disagree with my take on planning, since failure to plan, is planning to fail from some viewpoints. While this is true, too much planning can also lead to failure, not because you didn't plan but because you did not take action.
When planning, it's very easy to forget that the basis for achieving goals is not having a grand plan but to start taking action. The major reason effectuation is hugely important is that you simply cannot predict the future.
Your plans may be foolproof, but you cannot control circumstances and context, and in a world as random and uncertain as ours, even the greatest of plans often fail or at least change.
Some benefits of effectuation are:
Taking action can help you develop a better plan. Using what you have affords you speed and reflection which is invaluable in properly understanding your context and making a better plan for the next stage. Instead of having a grand plan, plan in milestones, maybe start with a few milestones, and then use the information you got from taking action to plan for the next milestone.
The best way to face uncertainty is to act. Taking action brings an action bias that can give anyone the confidence to act despite anxiety and uncertainty.
Effectuation in Practice
To start, I recommend reading "How to be an Imperfectionist" by Stephen Guise. The steps I use in practicing effectuation are:
When faced with a goal, I make planning as simple as possible. I don't want to get carried away or intimidated by the grandeur of my plan. So I plan out the first stage of action only. I ask what I need to do to have something tangible. After that, I can plan for improvement. Software people call this a Minimum Viable Product(MVP), and you should apply this concept to most areas of life.
If I must prep for something before doing real-world practice, I mix it up with challenges and try to see if I can prep for only the fundamentals. Make prepping creative.
There will be times when planning and prepping would be necessary for a venture, but you must never forget that planning without taking action is like plowing without planting. If you find it hard to take action, then effectuation can come to the rescue.