Apply Rabbit Mating Strategies To Your Life If You Don’t Know What To Work On

Don’t start one project. Start 20.

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

TL;DR = If you don’t know what to do with your life, start a bunch of cheap projects. The ones that aren’t worth doing would die off naturally, then you can focus your energy and effort on the projects that matter.

“I want to start something, but I don’t know what to start” is a common problem that can be solved by applying a principle from ecology known as r and K selection theory.

Step 1. Start a ton of projects. As many as you can. Don’t think. Just start.

When I don’t know what I should work on next, I apply the term “breed like rabbits” to my philosophy. How do rabbits breed? They fart out a ton of babies in a short period of time.

In r and K selection theory, the rabbit is known as an r-strategist. R-strategists often live in unstable environments, so there’s little chance that their offspring would survive into adulthood. To solve this problem, r-strategists produce a ton of cheap offspring. Think of a dandelion. They disperse tons of seeds into the wind, but maybe only 25% of them turn into other dandelions.

Photo by Saad Chaudhry on Unsplash

In the same sense, you can launch like a dandelion. If you have no idea what you want to do with your life, you’re most likely in an unstable environment. So fart out a bunch of projects in a short period of time. If you launch 20 projects, 15 will fail. But 5 are likely to succeed, which is actually pretty good.

The main idea is that your projects need to be small, low-effort, and have a short life expectancy.

Step 2. Focus your time and energy on the projects that don’t fail

What is the opposite of an r-strategist? That’s a K-strategist. Humans are examples of K-strategists. Because we (mostly) live in stable environments, we usually have only one or two kids and pour a ton of energy into them, and as a result, they have a long life expectancy.

Photo by Saad Chaudhry on Unsplash

This strategy doesn’t really work when you’re in the exploring phase of figuring out what to work on.

It costs $233,610 to raise a kid. You’re not going to pour that much money into a half-baked “startup” unless you’re crazy (rich).

However, K selection is a useful transition after you commit to a working idea. A good place to start is through a hybrid approach. Start out as an r-strategist, then treat your surviving offspring as a K-strategist would.

Launch a ton of projects. Once you discover something you know you want to work on for the rest of your life (or at least the next five years), pour your heart and soul into it, because you’ve transitioned from the ethereal “I have no idea what I’m doing with my life” state to a stable environment — the “I truly believe in this” state.

Does this actually work?

I have no idea. Don’t take my advice. I’m still figuring this stuff out for myself.

At the beginning of the year, I told myself:

“I want to launch a startup, but I don’t know what I want to actually start”, which is a terrible reason for wanting to start a startup. The general opinion is that the idea should come to you naturally, and that “forced” startup ideas don’t usually work out.

So how could I get ideas to come to me naturally? Follow your interests. I probably launched 7 or 8 projects this year, most of them “for fun.”

“Because it’s fun” or “Because I felt like it” are really strong reasons to launch a project, as an r-strategist.

How many of those projects are still alive? Three. Will some or all of those fail? Most likely. Will there be more projects? Definitely.

Does asking a rhetorical question and then answering it myself make me look like a huge prick? Maybe.

Actionable (I hope) Takeaways

  • Write a list of a bunch of projects you want to do for fun or because you feel like it
  • Rank them in order of descending fun. Ignore social conventions, or things you feel that you “should” do.
  • Commit to working on the ones you feel like doing.They’re probably the ones near the top.
  • Try to get something out there in 2 weeks at most. A blog post counts as a project launch. A T-shirt. A Twitter account.
  • The ones that you weren’t really meant to do will fail naturally. Let them.
  • Focus your energy on the projects that succeed or gain momentum.
  • Oh boy, look at you 5 years later. You’re the next Elon Musk.

Originally published nowhere else. You came straight to the source.