mnmlist: buckshot vs. rifle approaches

Many people try to do too much because they’re worried they might miss doing something that matters. They want to do everything possible, in case some of those things turn out to be important.

This is the buckshot approach. Buckshot spreads into many little pellets when it leaves the shotgun — most will miss the target, but that’s OK, because only some of the pellets need to hit. That’s fine for hunting, but for living, I’d recommend the rifle approach.

The rifle shoots a much more targeted bullet, with much more powerful impact. You aim at a specific target, and you don’t waste as much energy.

A friend who was going camping took a truckload of equipment and supplies, because he had no idea which equipment he’d need. A more experienced friend only needed a 9-lb. backpack, because experience told him what was necessary and what was extraneous. He was able to make a little count for much more than a whole truckload, because he knew how to target the important things.

Another friend who was launching his first online product spent hours and hours (months actually) putting a lot of effort into creating tons of bonuses, a really long sales page, a really massive product, all kinds of promotions and giveaways, and much more. He wasn’t sure what would be important, so he did everything possible, because he was afraid he wouldn’t do well if he missed something important. When I launch a product, I keep it simple, but try to make what little I do provide very valuable. I do very little to launch the product, because I’ve learned that doesn’t matter as much as creating a great product and having readers who trust me. I do less, but I know what matters, and focus on that.

Fear of missing something important causes us to use the buckshot approach, and do too much. Most of what we do will miss, but we console ourselves that something will hit the important target. The problem is, we don’t know what the target is, and using the buckshot approach means we’ll never get good at finding the target, nor good at aiming.

The rifle approach means you’ll be forced to figure out what’s important. You’ll be forced to get good at aiming, with practice.

This is minimalism.