avoid improvement

College. A musical instrument. Your career.

Here are 11 ways to avoid improvement (and 11 ways to embrace it). I’ve tested every one, and I guarantee both sets work!

How to Avoid Improvement

  1. Think defensively. Make big decisions based on fear.
  2. Wait for the fear to go away before you act.
  3. Never take action until you’ve considered every possible ramification, like a chess grandmaster thinking 10 moves ahead.
  4. Don’t ask questions. Prioritize looking smart over getting smarter.
  5. Pass up tempting opportunities because you don’t feel ready.
  6. Don’t do your work. If you never start a project, it can stay perfect in your head forever.
  7. Do your work, but don’t do it well. If you’d really tried, you could have done better.
  8. Do your work well, but don’t share it. If you’re a musician, never perform. If you’re a student, ace your classes but don’t give a presentation at your school’s undergraduate research conference.
  9. Don’t initiate. Wait to be invited.
  10. Don’t read ahead. Wait to be taught.
  11. Focus on what you’re owed instead of what you have to give.

How to Embrace Improvement

  1. Ask your fear what it thinks, then say “Thanks for your input, Fear.”
  2. Realize the fear never goes away.
  3. Thoughtfully consider your imperfect options, then choose the best one.
  4. Ask questions ad nauseum.
  5. Take action slightly before you feel ready.
  6. Kiss perfection goodbye before you start.
  7. Embrace imperfection in your work. All great art has flaws.
  8. Adopt the mindset If it doesn’t ship, it doesn’t count. Because it doesn’t.
  9. Be the inviter. Everyone is waiting for you.
  10. Don’t be bound by the average person’s pace. You are not average.
  11. Give freely, and you’ll do plenty of getting.