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December 30th, 2020
It requires a bit of luck to know when to miscalculate. As we get to know ourselves better, it can become a skill to know when it’s wise to proceed carefully or dive right in. Mayfer’s Law outlines the second: The miscalculation of time required for achievement enables the undertaking of endeavours far larger than we would knowing attempt to achieve. The mechanics of this law are buried in the sunk-cost fallacy: once we get going on something, there is often momentum against some potentially wiser considerations to stop. But when is it wise to proceed carefully?
Seems like a strange question: isn’t it always wise to tread carefully? It’s de facto wisdom only because it’s rare: we’re really good at jumping into the deep end without first dipping a toe to test for temperature. Or so it seems. The de facto wisdom stands because we often dive right into the wrong things. Relationships, jobs, addictions..
Just go for it is the symmetrical wisdom to our de facto caution. But again, we misapply known wisdom: we often fail to take the advice when it’s applied to the right thing: starting that company, writing that book, learning an instrument. With those things we’re cautious, but for reasons that lack wisdom.
Learning how to learn hinges on a self-awareness of emotion, and how to foster the correct emotions with the right amount and frequency of new material. It’s imperative to be mindful of the tension between one’s own interest and frustration while exploring a new field. The first has to be stoked as much as possible, but it is always at risk of being snuffed out by the second. This is a spot where caution is best implemented: be cautious when frustration starts to rise - like a poison, it doesn’t take much to kill off an infant effort. Caution doesn’t mean stop, but merely to tread carefully, to tread mindfully and look for the next best place to dive in.