Precontemplation at scale

There are people who do things this way: they put all of their effort into the thing, and boom—the thing is done. Then they move on to the next thing.

I am not one of those people. Maybe I will become one later, but for now I am not.

My bottleneck is not in doing things, but in stopping being scared of doing things.

This is why I do a hundred things at a time, not just one. Each of those things takes six months to get done. Or less, or more, but I think that "six months" is a good number to keep in my head. "Whatever I want to get done, if I start now, it will only get done in six months."

  • If I start a startup, it will have its first users in six months.
  • If I start coaching, something will come out of it in six months.
  • If I give a talk, it might affect people straight away, but I will only find out in six months.
  • If I want to switch from coding to management, it will get done in six months.
  • If I want more clients for my consulting, they will appear six months after I have decided that "yeah I should start looking".

This means that preparing the ground becomes very important.

Stages of change

Cue the diagram of "Stages of Change" I heard about from Matt Goldenberg:

Stages of Change

If I want to get something done, and right now I am too scared to do it, I need to start with precontemplation. The earlier I start with precontemplation, the earlier I will move on to contemplation, then to determination, and then to actually doing the thing.


This is why Twitter is working so well for me.

Twitter is a tool for doing precontemplation at scale. If your bottleneck, like mine, is in being scared and not in lacking skills, then you also need a tool for doing precontemplation at scale. Can be friends, can be Twitter, can be anything else.

Case study:

  • When I was transitioning from coding to management, I publicly mused "I want to switch from coding to management" on Twitter.
  • Then I told some people about how management is better than coding.
  • Then I told more people.
  • Then I said "I wonder if I can do it by my birthday" (which was in about half a year).
  • After a while I set my Twitter name to Artyom (stopping coding on Oct 5, 2020).
  • In a couple of months before the deadline I started taking actual steps—hiring more people, etc.
  • On the deadline I said "okay, I am not coding anymore". Boom.

Side-note: everybody said "you will probably give up after a while", and indeed I resumed coding in about a month and then stopped coding again. THIS IS ALRIGHT. Not only do things take 6 months, but they also take 3 tries. That's another good number to keep in your head. See The best self-improvement trick so far: a giant board for a method to convince yourself that things take 3 tries and it's alright.

Going a bit further

  • From precontemplation to contemplation: when I feel I am ready to move from precontemplation to contemplation, I tweet the thing and say it's a "working hypothesis". This works surprisingly better than I expected.
  • From contemplation to determination: At least for ideas and working hypotheses, I keep a public list of "what I currently believe": Idea origins. This helps to solidify things in the "determination" stage.

Precontemplations I am currently doing

These are just a few recent examples I found while scrolling my Twitter timeline.

Preparing to start enjoying boyish fun (like buying GameStop stocks etc)

Preparing to talk about gender without being afraid of looking sexist

Preparing to have kids

Preparing to climb the "elite class" ladder and not just the "middle class" ladder

Preparing to try the co-writing idea (half-assedly)

Preparing to do self-expression more often and more explicitly

Preparing to abandon philosophy