Because school trains us to wait to make decisions until we are 95% sure.
You don’t get A’s in school by going “I know about 70% of the material, I’ll just take a crack at this test and see how it goes.”
However, it turns out that, in most “real-world” situations, that’s actually the optimal confidence level for making decisions.
Jeff Bezos once gave this advice on how to stop procrastinating:
“Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.”
The most common reason we procrastinate is that you‘re afraid of looking bad. We‘re afraid because we don‘t know all the answers right now.
Don‘t hold off until you know 100%, or 90%.
When you feel like you have 70% of the information, make a decision and start.
The 70% Rule works for both big goals and small goals because it gives you the momentum for getting started. As soon as you start a new project, the momentum gathers, and good things start to happen.
Are you 70% sure you want to write a book? Start writing it, if only for a minute. You may find that a minute turns into an hour, which turns into a daily habit.
Are you 70% sure you want to ask your boss for a raise? Set an appointment to talk with her. You’ll figure it out when you walk into the room.
You are afraid of failure, but by procrastinating you guarantee failure.
Courage is the ultimate cure for procrastination.
The 70% rule is a smart strategic tool, but it’s more than that.
By taking on a challenge that you are not sure you can complete, you stretch yourself. You grow. You become more fully you.
Be courageous. At 70%, just get the ball rolling and good things will follow.