Matthew Peyton

Things Already Done Are Still Worth Doing

Things Already Done Are Still Worth Doing

It seems like everything has already been done. Just about every storyline, business idea, photograph, English sentence and more have already been done. It’s estimated that there are about 100 billion unique humans that have ever lived. About 8 billion of them are alive right now. That’s a lot of people doing a lot of things. It’s likely, almost guaranteed, that at least one of them has already done the thing you want to do. Someone has skied that slope, cooked that meal, and thought of that business idea already.

Yet at the same time, most things are still worth doing. It’s still worth taking that photograph of the Eiffel Tower… even if there are millions of near-identical copies of it. Why? Small but meaningful variations. The same thing is often NOT the same thing when it’s in a different context. Your Eiffel Tower photograph is special… YOU took it on YOUR vacation THIS year. You wouldn’t show a stock photo of the Eiffel Tower to your friends when talking about your vacation. But you WOULD show YOUR photo. It’s special because YOU took it because you were THERE. Maybe YOU even appear IN your photo!

Likewise, there are millions of coffee shops around the world. Sometimes, there are dozens of coffee shops within a few blocks of each other. They’re often not very differentiated. Sure their ambiance, quality and price might vary a bit… but ultimately only within a very narrow band of possibilities. So why can so many exist? Again, these small but meaningful differences. A person catching a flight is likely to get coffee from the shop in the terminal their flight is in, not another terminal’s coffee shop. A person might have a favorite seat that’s always open at a specific coffee shop, when all the others nearby are full. A person getting coffee in 1954 would only be able to get coffee at a shop that existed in 1954… not a shop that opened in 2024.

Anything that’s already done, can still be done, with slight but meaningful variations. The variations might not be obvious at first glance, but they’re always there. If you cook a pasta recipe that you follow exactly step-by-step… it’ll still probably be slightly different from someone else’s meal made using the same recipe. Maybe you subconsciously add a little more parmesan to yours, or you have someone help you cook faster, or you make your dinner exactly at 5pm because that’s when you get hungry. Either way, despite the fact that millions of other people have made that “exact” same meal… you still made the meal. And you likely enjoyed the meal as well. That’s because none of those other meals were made for you at that exact same time/place, in the exact same way.

So don’t worry if something’s already been done before! Don’t even worry if you’re going to do something the EXACT same way as it’s been done before! Just the fact that you’re not the person who has already done it… means that you’re already doing a different thing. That’s a good thing: it’s important for humanity to retry ideas that might work differently in different contexts. That’s where our best successes come from.