Testing your assumptions

Assumptions, we all have them.  We assume we know what someone else is thinking, we assume that we know all the facts about something, we assume.  We make assumptions about something just about every time we speak or think.  The definition of assumption (as taken from here)

In logic an assumption is a proposition that is taken for granted, as if it were true based upon presupposition without preponderance of the facts.

Basically all that means is that all assumptions we make, every time we assume something about anything, we are taking for granted something that we don’t have facts to prove or disprove.

What are some of the assumptions we make every day.

  • “It only takes me 10 minutes to drive to work so I’ll leave exactly 10 minutes before I have to be there.” 
  • “She knows I love and appreciate her, so I don’t have to keep telling her.”
  • “My toddler knows better than to touch the hot stove.”
  • “She won’t talk to me, she’s too pretty to be attracted to me.”
  • “I’ll never find a job, so why bother.”
  • “It will be too hard to start my own business while I have a full time job.”
  • “I’m too out of shape, I’ll never be able to run a marathon.”

So many assumptions, I could go on and on, in fact I’ve made an assumption right now that you would rather not read any more assumptions (I’m probably right!)

If you look at that list above many of them are negative.  “I can’t…”, “…too hard”, “I don’t…”  Assumptions can keep us from getting the most out of our lives.  Assumptions can hurt feelings and damage relationships.  Assumptions can make our lives difficult if they prove false, but if they prove true then we’ve made a correct choice.  But how can we determine if they are true or not if we never test those assumptions.

Test those assumptions

Once I test my assumptions, I often find that I’m surprised at what I may have been missing if I had just stuck with my initial assumption.

  • When I was single and first met the woman who is now my wife, I assumed that she wouldn’t want to be with  me.  I assumed that she wouldn’t be interested as I figured most woman would be.  I tested that assumption by talking to her anyway and here we are 22 years later, happily married with 4 kids.
  • I left a job to work for a small startup about ten years ago.  Six months later, the startup faltered and I was quickly unemployed.  I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to make it on my own.  However, I was forced to test that assumption as the economy was bad and there were no more jobs to have.  I was forced to make it on my own.  Ten years later, I’m still working on my own and while the last 6 months have been a struggle, I’ve been successful otherwise.
  • I assumed that no one would read a blog that I may write, regardless of topic.  I’ve started and stopped a number of blogs over the years, but never stuck to them.  When I started this blog, I assumed the same.  Well I realize that it’s only been a month and a handful of posts, but this is the most writing I’ve done in my life (and I’m loving it and want to do more).  Still not a ton of readers, but I have an action plan to fix that.
  • I saw all those people around the web who talked about the great savings they had at stores using coupons.  I’m talking saving 75% or higher.  I assumed it was too hard and I wouldn’t achieve those results.  Well I’m happy that my wife and I tested that assumption and our recent trip to the store netted us almost $50 worth of product (that we will use), for just $6.

Unless you test your assumption, you’ll never know what you are missing out on in life.  Go up and talk to that girl, start that home business, start exercising and make that commitment to get back in shape, start trusting in God and see how that changes your life. 

How to test your assumptions

Don’t let your assumptions rule your life.  Test them and determine if they are true or not.  Only then can you make a truly informed decision.  

  1. Take a goal that you are working towards.
  2. List out the assumption or barrier that is keeping you from reaching that goal.
  3. List out tactics to test that assumption to see if it proves true.

Example:

Goal:  Find an idea that makes an extra $1000/month on the side.
Barrier:  I don’t have an idea. (Assumption is: “I’ll never come up with a good enough idea.”)
Tactic:  Write down 10 or 20 things you are good at or like to do.  Then sort them by the amount of money you think you can make from them in 10-15 hours per week.  Example:  Photography –> not much money potential perhaps because of tons of photographers in your area.  Piano lessons –> could translate into $25 or more an hour. 

There ya go, you’ve now got some ideas so that assumption is busted.  Next step is taking action on the idea, which will have it’s own set of assumptions, barriers and tactics.  Repeat this process and test your assumptions.  This will guide you on the process to reaching your goals.

Your turn.

Try it out, list a goal no matter how big or small and then try and recognize the assumptions or barriers that are the roadblocks, then get a plan to test those assumptions and take action.

I’d love to read comments on what your goals and assumptions are and how you plan to take action.

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