Optimal vs. Needed: The Difference Between Starting and Stagnating
When we set out to achieve a goal, whether it’s starting a business, eating healthier, or traveling the world, it’s easy to look to successful people and try to emulate their strategies. While this can certainly speed up our learning curve, we often forget that the systems, habits, and strategies used by successful people now are usually not the same ones they used when starting out.
We need to understand the difference between what is optimal and what is needed. If we set the bar too high and compare our current situation to that of successful people, it can be all too easy to talk ourselves out of even starting. We may convince ourselves that we need to buy new things, learn new skills, or meet new people in order to take the first step toward our goals, when in fact this may not be necessary at all.
Let’s explore this concept in more detail with some practical examples.
Traveling the World: Optimal vs. Needed
When we travel to new destinations, we may see other backpackers with all the latest gear, such as moisture-wicking clothes, rainproof bags, and specialized shoes. While having great gear can certainly make our travels easier, it’s not necessary. We don’t need to buy new shoes to start running, we don’t need new cooking bowls to start eating healthier, and we certainly don’t need a new backpack to start traveling. These things may be optimal, but they’re not needed in the beginning. We can start with what we have and upgrade later.
Starting a Business: Optimal vs. Needed
When we first start out as entrepreneurs, it’s easy to become obsessed with doing everything perfectly. We may feel like we need all the latest software, the best logo, or the most professional website in order to succeed. However, these things are not always necessary. Sometimes the simplest approach can be the most effective. For example, using our name as our “logo” instead of investing in an expensive design has turned out to be the most popular website we’ve built.
Eating Healthy: Optimal vs. Needed
When it comes to eating healthier, many people think they need to buy only grass-fed beef, organic vegetables, or some other super-healthy food strategy to optimize their diet. While these things can certainly make a difference in the long run, they’re not necessary to start making strides in the right direction. We can start small by simply adding another vegetable to our grocery cart, whether it’s organic or not. There’s plenty of time for optimization later.
Avoiding by Optimizing
It’s all too easy to use the excuse of needing to learn more or get everything lined up perfectly as a crutch to avoid doing the hard work that actually matters. We can complain about needing better golf clubs, a more functional backpack, or better software, when in reality these things are not what we need to improve. Instead, we simply need time and effort to practice, make do with what we have, and focus on the real work at hand.
The Importance of an Imperfect Start
While it’s important to optimize and improve, we shouldn’t let visions of what’s optimal determine our actions before we even get started. An imperfect start can be improved over time, but obsessing over a perfect plan will never get us anywhere on its own. We must focus on taking action, practicing, and refining our approach over time. When we focus on what’s really necessary to achieve our goals, we can make progress and achieve success, regardless of what we have or don’t have when we start out.
In conclusion, it’s crucial to understand the difference between what’s optimal and what’s needed when pursuing our goals. We can certainly learn from successful people and emulate their strategies, but we must remember that what works for them now may not be what they used when starting out. We can start with what we have and upgrade later, focusing on the real work at hand. By taking action and refining our approach over time, we can achieve success, regardless of what we have or don’t have when we start out.