Skip to content
Why Writing Finally Taught Me That Linear Thinking is a Killer
Photo by Universal Eye / Unsplash

For the last two years, friends and colleagues have been pushing me to write a book that I never stopped talking about. The Covid-19 Pandemic finally gave me the opportunity to take a sabbatical and get down to writing.

I found my flow easily and within 6 months in 2021, I'd completed the first draft. I then set about drafting book proposals to send to publishers.

Then, one morning I woke up and all was not right. I was supposed to feel fulfilled, but something was missing. I was supposed to be excited, but I wasn't. I was trying to think rationally about this, but my gut was telling me something different.

It's then I realized I had fallen victim to linear thinking. I was setting myself up for complete failure by failing to test out my ideas. Even worse, I had no audience to test my draft out on.

It's hard to fight the temptation of linear thinking. It's a mentality left over from the Industrial Age. First we go to school, then we hit the career hamster wheel with grand ambitions, then we retire 'old' at the age of 65 (even though most of us can expect to live to 100).

That neat, singular, upwards sloping 'path' through life where we can predict the outcome is gone. Times have changed. Life's messy and unpredictable. And assumptions are dangerous. To frame things another way:

  • Would you commercialise a product without first testing an MVP?
  • Would you marry your life partner without first having slept with them?
  • Would you embark on a lifelong career path without first doing a small project in the industry to see if you would like it?

And would you write a book without first having tested out your ideas?

These may seem obvious but we can all point to examples where linear thinking has cost us time, money, relationships and even our (mental) health.

Since then I've realized that linear thinking is about big grandiose goals without any guaranteed outcome. I prefer agile thinking - thinking small - as in really small to test out my ideas.

Get the 'Out of Line' Newsletter in Your Inbox

Join the growing tribe of readers embracing the nonlinear lifestyle

No spam. Ever.