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When making assumptions can be a good thing

Various thriller book covers

Hands up who’s heard the saying; “when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me both”.  My first memory of hearing it was from the mouth of Agent Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs.   I’ve therefore always thought of making assumptions having a negative connotation (and of course in the case of catching a potential serial killer, they can be deadly!).

There’s a difference between assuming and presuming.  When we make a presumption, it’s based on some element of fact or knowledge, but assumptions are more likely to be based on guess work (and therefore more prone to being incorrect, hence the saying)

Right at the beginning of lockdown, I made a few presumptions and assumptions:


    • I wouldn’t catch the virus as I was following social distancing rules
    • Schools would be back before the end of term
    • We wouldn’t be able to go on our long-awaited holiday to Italy in August (but was still hopeful)
    • Everyone would cancel their bookings over the coming months
    • I’d be able to handle home schooling without too much trouble


    • I’d have lots of spare time to be creative and finish off the long list of ‘important but not urgent’ tasks both in my personal and business life
    • Any events booked in for later in the year would still go ahead
    • I’d be able to pick up where I left off with the same events and activities in future
    • I wouldn’t have any work coming in at all until lockdown was completely lifted there would be no interest in  participating in any of my activities during the duration.

So, it turns out I was correct in a couple of my presumptions (I haven’t caught COVID and all of my events were cancelled!), but I was way off on the majority.  That’s when I decided to turn things around.

I didn’t have lots of spare time (quite the opposite!) but have consistently tried to make time to achieve something, no matter how small.  I’ve been painting a self-portrait, started an online diploma in Criminal Psychology, pottered in the garden, grasped my marketing plan by the horns and got stuck in…

Yes, my bookings all got cancelled, but also those bookings for the end of the year, which was a blow.  So, I realised I needed to challenge the assumption that I’d get no work in until this was over and then things would carry on as normal.  I’ve created online activities, gained a new client and re-visited some past ones and now understand that the direction of my business has changed and I’ll be going with the flow!

Clearing the ‘to read’ pile

I’ve made a point of reading through as many of the books as possible that I’ve started but abandoned over the years.  I assumed that because I had abandoned them in the past this would be a real slog – surely, I would have finished them straight away if I had enjoyed them to begin with?

Having finished three of them in quick succession and eager to turn each page I’ve realised that my assumptions were wrong. I was simply in a different place in my life, in a different frame of mind or my concentration was elsewhere at that point.

One of the books ‘The Little Friend’ is a murder mystery but (without giving too much away), we never actually find out who did it.   There is an ongoing theme of making assumptions and presumptions within the book but in the end:

“Even if it meant that she had failed, she was glad. And if what she’d wanted had been impossible from the start, still there was a certain lonely comfort in the fact that she’d known it was impossible and had gone ahead and done it anyway.”
― Donna Tartt, The Little Friend

Don’t be afraid to turn those assumptions around and prove them wrong.  And I definitely did not handle home schooling without too much trouble!!