Day 1 Mindset — Turning Day 2 into Day 1

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Think about the last time you started something new. This could be a new startup, a Youtube channel, or anything that you are passionate about. Now imagine that excitement you felt when you undertook that effort. You might be thinking about all the wonderful ideas you could implement or just being super excited to start something new.

Now it's a few weeks or months later. Your excitement that you felt at the start has now slowed down. Your startup or endeavor might feel like a daily routine or a tedious task. This happens to many projects or long-term commitments that people work on or make. At the start, we are often excited and passionate, while later down we often start to lose that drive that we had at the start.

One of Jeff Bezos’s mindsets that he talked about in his letter to his shareholder was the Day 1 mindset. What does “day 1” actually mean?

Day 1 vs Day 2

With a Day 1 mindset, you are working on constantly growing yourself and the project you have undertaken just like you do at the start of that journey. This could be taking more risks by trying new things that might work and constantly being excited about the work that you are doing. On the other hand, when you move into the Day 2 mindset, you are more cautious about what you are doing and often iterate slowly.

As Jeff Bezos stated in his shareholder letter:

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.” — Jeff Bezos

Bezos created this mindset primarily for how companies should grow by staying in the Day 1 mindset. Many people in the business world, thought this idea was not beneficial to companies because as a company becomes larger, you need to be careful with what you are doing. However, this does not end up being true since it slows down progress and innovation, as Bezos indicated. This mindset is the biggest reason for Amazon’s huge growth. This mindset does not just have to apply to companies, but it can apply to personal growth and working on a project at any scale.

In order to be in the Day 1 mindset longer, a person must not be afraid of change rather embrace it. It may take a lot of effort to do so at the start but through this iteration and change you would end up being better than if you decided to take the Day 2 route which may initial seem like a safe path.

Jeff Bezos also talks about other ways that you can move out of the Day 2 mindset and into the Day 1 mindset.

Be Obsessed with Helping Your Future Self

When people are often improving upon themselves or working on a project, they just focus on what they are doing at the moment and often get demotivated later on. It is important to be obsessed with helping to achieve your larger goal. Whether if it is yourself or a project you are working towards, if you are obsessed by trying to help your future self, you will be more motivated to take on challenges and undertake efforts towards that broader goal.

Jeff Bezos said in his shareholder letter:

“Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.” — Jeff Bezos

Your future self may not know what you want right now, but it is important to constantly improve and help yourself even if you think you have hit a wall or have reached the limit. You currently might not want to learn how to code, but maybe your future self might want that and find it incredibly useful. The important thing to note is that as you experiment with different inventions to benefit yourself, you do not have to commit to it in the future. Trying it out will get you in the door to see if that topic will help you, and you can then decide if you are going to stick with it. Indeed these learnings will undoubtedly help your future self.

Focus on the Result Not the Process

Working on the process of growth is really important as it helps benefit your future self. However, when people are trying to grow or build something, they are so consumed in the process that they forget about the purpose they are following the process. They are trying to make sure that they are doing the process correctly rather than seeing if they are actually growing through it.

As Jeff Bezos stated in his shareholder letter:

“It’s not that rare to hear a junior leader defend a bad outcome with something like, “Well, we followed the process.” A more experienced leader will use it as an opportunity to investigate and improve the process.” — Jeff Bezos

Following the process is not a bad thing, but thinking that the process is fixed will trap your growth. It will prevent you from seeing how the process is making you do things that might not make sense for you or your project. It is important to see if there are any flaws in what and how you are doing things so that you can improve the elements of that process. You should work to have the process work for you rather than having you work for the process.

You can implement this by thinking to yourself:

  • Does this {Task} make sense for me?
  • Are there better ways I can do this {Task}?

Make decisions quickly

One of the best ways to grow quickly and stay in the Day 1 mindset is to make decisions quickly. We as humans often take so long to make a decision as we think about so many aspects of the decision. People may take a long time on how to move forward in a project, what next step they should take in life, and much more. When we take a long time making decisions, we lose out on the opportunity to experiment with different options and see which one actually is going to work for us.

“Day 2 companies make high-quality decisions, but they make high-quality decisions slowly. To keep the energy and dynamism of Day 1, you have to somehow make high-quality, high-velocity decisions.”

Jeff Bezos talked about making high-quality and high-velocity decisions to keep the Day 1 mindset. Making good and fast decisions allow you to make more mistakes in how you are tackling something. We often think that mistakes are a bad thing that we should avoid at all costs. However, mistakes allow us to learn more as a result since you can iterate faster as you know what went wrong in your previous attempt. Allowing ourselves to have fresh ideas and make mistakes allows us to not only keep us passionate but learn and grow along the way.

Making Day 2 like Day 1

Having a Day 1 mindset is really important as we work in projects or just on ourselves because it keeps us motivated and accelerates our growth. This mindset is really hard to start at the beginning because it is a skill that is built up with practice and time. The important thing is to keep at it and build that mindset up overtime so at the end you can make more of your Day 2s into Day 1s.

Nivan is a 14-year-old Artificial Intelligence developer looking to use technology to help solve problems in the world. He is currently building a company called Lemonaid which is a platform that connects teens with organizations that are in need of help with volunteer/intern recruitment. Send me an email at nivangujral@gmail.com if you would like to further discuss this article or just talk.

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