How to frame projects

Published on Dec 17, 2019

Remove the end product from your definition of success

We live in a complex, every-changing world. I think it’s easy to look back and tell ourselves how good of a job we did predicting the future. What we don’t see is our own confirmation bias—the fact that we only remember the things we predicted well, not what we predicted poorly.

And even if we’re honest with ourselves about how poorly we previously predicted the future, most people are still confident in their views of what tomorrow will look like.

We like to trick ourselves into thinking we have more control than we actually do.

If we admit there’s no way to predict the future and that a lot of our successes and failures boil down to luck, how do we choose projects to work on?

I think how you frame your projects is more important than what you work on.

I always try to setup projects so that my measure of success isn’t dependent on the end product.

Here are a few examples…

When I started working on Gridiron AI, I didn’t define the project as, I need to come up with a machine learning model that beats Vegas. Is that what we’re trying to do? Yes. But it’s not how I define success. I framed the project as a chance to hone machine my learning skills, design skills, and collaborate with two friends who are also interested in the project. If we beat Vegas, great! If not, the project was still a success for me.

When I started investing in crypto, I didn’t frame the project as, I need to become a crypto millionaire. That’s impossible to predict and I have no control over the outcome of crypto adoption vs. apocalypse. I chose to work on it because I think it’s interesting technology that will surly have some real-world uses emerge, and because I get to collaborate on it with my good friend, Jason.

Another way I’m disassociating the outcome of our crypto investing from my own success is by writing about it. I derive a lot of value from writing out my thoughts and sharing them. Crypto investing gives me content and interesting threads to pull.

Most of the nuance is in your own mindset. If you’re like me, you’ll be happier if you start designing and framing projects so that you have more control over their success.

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