Go with the flow?

“Go with the flow” ” Just go with it” “Plans change, but we will still have fun anyway” Are all sayings that people say in order to be okay with going with what the plan is. Me- I am completely opposite… I have to have everything planned out and know what my day will consist of in order to function. Yes, a little crazy; but that is how my brain works.

But it is better to go with the flow of what is happening or to plan it all out? Planning things out is actually is considered being a structured thinker.

I did some research and here is what I found out:
Disadvantages of structured approach

  • Weak on anything that requires “street smarts”
  • Makes new experiences more difficult because it requires more thinking -> end up avoiding them (bad)
  • Difficult for environments/contexts that change rapidly
  • Similarly, makes it difficult to be opportunistic
  • Paradox of choice and paralysis of analysis when the optimal decision is unclear
  • Takes a lot more work, adds additional worry to life
  • Cognitive dissonance when your models aren’t accurate with the world / slower and more painful to adapt
  • Tends to fail more catestrophically when you don’t have all of the relevant information or have some misinformation re the situation
  • Can sometimes take the fun out of things that otherwise would be fun
    • Work / thinking involved
    • Biases towards being critical of things
    • Pressure to get “the right” answer

Disadvantages of “go with the flow”

  • Tends to be “greedy algorithm” / no second- and third-order thinking
  • Tends to get wrong answers in complex settings
  • Tends to be inferior for high-leverage decision making (e.g. ceo’s of large companies)
  • Tends to pick decisions that bias towards short term horizons, e.g. bad for career planning, etc

How does one get better at structured thinking?

  • Learn mental models and how they combine / how to use them
  • Lots of practice explaining/predicting/engineering results in complex settings
  • Learn to look at things from a “clean slate” perspective vs. looking at the way things are already and going from there
  • Slow down and make decisions more carefully / deliberately
  • Important ingredient: don’t get emotionally attached to your models of something. Be willing to change your mind quickly.

How does one get better at go-with-the-flow thinking?

  • Look for situations where others got the right or better answer faster, i.e. they seemed to “shortcut” to the right answer
  • Err towards saying “yes” to yes/no questions, i.e. take more risks, don’t turn down new experiences that will call for street skills
  • Make decisions more quickly, and take decisive action more quickly
  • Identify decisions that don’t matter much and don’t spend time on them
  • Be more okay with getting the wrong answers on things

It is harder for those who think structurally to learn how to go with the flow. I try everyday not to get discombobulated when something doesn’t work out. For those who go with the flow- you have a lot less stress in your life and make decisions quicker. We as the planners have to think of the consequences that lay ahead with making a decision. I know that I get tired of worrying about the future; but it is hard for me to go with the flow and just live…that is not who I am.

So- just be yourself if you can go with the flow but also plan; you get a GOLD STAR! Just know what is right for you so that you don’t get stressed.


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