It’s fascinating how many steps it takes to build up the courage just to do something, let alone do it well.
For years, I’ve had this idea in my head that I wanted to write. There was no particular audience or subject I knew for sure I wanted to write about, it’s just a path I wanted to pursue. I felt that if nothing else, it could be therapeutic, maybe someone would even dig what I have to say.
Bye-bye Wally World
I first considered writing in 2011 when I took a risk in quitting my job pushing shopping carts at Walmart. I know, not very glamorous, but we all have to start somewhere. I couldn’t work one more day at that miserable place. Surely that wasn’t going to be my life. There had to be something more out there. So I abandoned my blossoming career at Wally-world to be a full-time freelance designer.
Design is something I always dabbled in as a hobby, but never took seriously as a way to make a living. I had a few client projects lined up but nothing major so the decision intimidated me a bit. I guess looking back, quitting that job wasn’t all that risky. After all, it wasn’t like I was going to lose my house or apartment, or struggle to provide for my children. I was a single guy living at home with my grandparents so the worst that could have happened was being late on a cell phone bill or something. Still, it felt like a crisis at the time, okay?
Self-doubt can creep up on ya
Before I could pen my first word, the self-doubting thoughts crept in. What could I possibly have to say that anyone would care about? I’m just a kid who left a dead-end job, so what knowledge do I have to share? What if my writing gets torn to shreds or someone decides to swing by my house to paint it with eggs?
Self-doubt is by far one of the biggest deterrents when it comes to anything we set our minds to. It can shift your attitude in a heartbeat from “I’m going to do this today” to “There’s no way I can do this today.” So what did I do? I didn’t do it.
In 2012 when I had a little more experience and a slew of projects under my belt, the idea of writing popped into my head again. I had partnered up with my friend Tom Ricciuti to launch a design and marketing consultancy. Tom was my mentor before becoming my partner so we had built a solid relationship over the course of a year.
For the first time, I felt like I was doing what I was meant to do. Client work was steadily coming in and I was having a blast working alongside someone I genuinely liked being around. With my first year in business down, this was most definitely a great time to start writing!
But I didn’t. The self-loathing thoughts, even with my newfound confidence, flowed like the rivers of ancient Babylon as if they had never left. Yes, that was totally a “Longest Yard” reference. I convinced myself that I wasn’t ready and needed a couple more years in business.
A couple more years go by, it’s 2014 and I find myself living in the great city of Los Angeles. Tom and I had decided to branch off to focus on the areas we were most passionate about; sales consulting for him and design for me. Again, writing was constantly on my mind.
Perfectionism is poison
For months, I brainstormed all the different topics I could write about and what my ideal audience would be. I was ready! But first, I need to build this crazy big website featuring all my work. It needs to be perfect in every single way and have all the bells and whistles. Oh, and it absolutely needs to have lots of ebooks!! Then, and only then, will I be ready to write! Because how could I write without all that stuff, right?
Perfectionism is by far one of our biggest flaws. It can derail productivity, cause you to leave many if not most projects unfinished, and prevent you from beginning a task altogether. Did that mega portfolio website ever get built? Of course not. With my client work, I never had the time to take on such a task and I found myself changing the design every time I would get close to finalizing a concept.Avoid perfectionism. It only derails productivity and causes you to leave projects unfinished. Click To Tweet
Don’t compare yourself to others
No matter how many times I went through this process, I kept telling myself, “I need to do this or I won’t look credible.” I compared myself to other designers and writers who had websites jam packed with of all sorts of resources. I still do. The difference between them and me? They were totally at different stages than I was. Not only that, most people don’t start with the biggest version of what they want to do, they start with something small and manageable and work their way from there.
Why do you think my website is as clean and simple as it is now? If I was going to finish this thing, it had better be something I could crank out in a reasonable amount of time. The best part? I can build on it to be exactly what I want it to be as I move forward. I didn’t understand that then, so I never wrote a darn thing in 2014.
Moment of clarity
Fast forward to 2016, I was having a conversation with a colleague about goals, passions, and things we’d like to pursue in the future. I comedically brought up writing. He might not have understood why it was funny, but in my head, it was crystal clear to me. It had been 6 years, nearly a decade, and I was still talking about how I’d like to write one day. The thought finally dawned on me, an epiphany of sorts, “If not now, then when?”If not now, then when? Click To Tweet
Given enough time, I could always come up with reasons and excuses for why I shouldn’t do something, but if I keep putting it off, I might be destined to live life having never done it at all. Who wants to look back on things they wished they had tried? Certainly not me.
There is never a point when someone is truly ready to do anything. You just have to build up the courage to do it. It might have taken 6 years, but I can finally stop talking about how I’d like to write one day and just get to the actual writing. I challenge you to do something today that you’ve had on your mind for a while. No excuses, just do it!
I leave you with these actionable thoughts:
1. Think about what it is you want to do and figure out a way to strip it down to its most basic form. It needs to be manageable, something you can actually wrap your brain around. For me, it was deciding to write one article, with no concern given to what I’d write about in the future.
2. Don’t let your mind be polluted with thoughts like, in order to do “x”, I need “x”. This kind of thinking only makes the task at hand seem nearly impossible to take on.
3. Don’t worry about what others think. You will always have people criticizing you and I fully expect it as I dive into the world of writing. You have to accept that there will be people you simply can’t please so don’t waste your time trying. Just do what it is you want to do. Grant Cardone says if you don’t have haters, then you aren’t doing anything important.
What is it that you want to do? How long have you thought about doing it? How much longer do you plan on thinking about it?
Do it now or do it never.What do you want to do? How long do you plan on thinking about it? Do it now or do it never. Click To Tweet