How hard can it be?

I am working on a personal project and I need a dashboard to analyse my data that is hosted in the cloud. So I thought, “how hard can it be” to set up my own dashboard server, given that I developed and ran my own chatbot server last year?

Not as easy as I thought, but too late. Eventually, I did it. Yay!

And it got me into a reflective mode.

“How hard can it be?” is a question that, depending on context and tone of voice, can have side effect. Use with care.

If we utter it to someone more junior or less experienced, please be kind not to offend the receiver or damage his/her self-confidence. If the receiver is a subject matter expert in the “it”, check first that we know the subject well enough so we don't look like a fool.

Probably it is better to ask “what does it take to accomplish it?” We move the discussion toward analysis and effort estimation, so it is more constructive and builds up morale.

But “how hard can it be?” is not to be avoided altogether, especially if asked to ourselves. If we actually do not know what it takes to accomplish “it” and we are curious to know, then “how hard can it be?” is a challenge to spur us into action rather than analysis paralysis.

“How hard can it be?” I don't know. Let's find out.

Caveat emptor. In life, there are always things to do and competing priorities. Chasing after “how hard can it be?” ought to be weighed in light of other priorities. Proceed with care.

And once we find out how hard it can be, we need to be willing to admit if we are wrong. Because despite not knowing the answer to “what does it take to accomplish it?”, we typically ask “how hard can it be?” with some preconceived assumption of “how hard” it is. And once we do “it”, we eventually find out “how hard” it is – which can be easier or harder than our assumption.

And that is okay if we are wrong. The important part is that we get “it” done and learn what it takes to accomplish “it”.

Have a nice day.