I recently finished reading Stephen Pressfield’s amazing “War of Art” in which he argues that the only thing that keeps us from succeeding is resistance. Resistance shows up in a gazillion ways, all of which are designed to keep us from actually doing anything to further our art.
Resistance and I are BFFs.
Before sitting down to write this, I:
- relocated to my neighbourhood coffee shop
- bought a coffee, even though it was the third one of the day
- had three text conversations
- considered the cost of ski passes for the season, and thought about the payment plan I have no intention of using
- wondered why word processing programs always default to Times New Roman when everyone knows that font is all sorts of ugly
Resistance is actually kind of a jerk and shows up most often in the form of “being prepared”. You might recognize him, he’s the one that rolls in right when you are getting excited about your idea and says, “Whoa whoa WHOA! Have you considered…” I believe I’m far from alone in hanging out with this guy. If we just keep thinking about how to improve [idea of choice], we never have to actually launch anything. You know what happens when you’re in business and you don’t launch? You aren’t in business very long!
I always battle being prepared, or to give it its real name, over-thinking, and the increasing sense of frustration that nothing is manifesting. It’s creative constipation. However, I also know that I lean towards analysis and living in my head so I made myself a little map about over-thinking and why it is such an attractive pass-time for so many of us.
Here are three lies we tell ourselves about why being prepared is totally acceptable:
I want to create something totally original.
This is a great one. We tell ourselves we’re so smart that we will research the ever-loving hell out of everything rather than just getting down to work. The academic in us cheers us on – go ahead and see what the competition is doing. Check how they are marketing that product. Build a spreadsheet with details on everyone who has ever done anything related to the thing we want to create. Added bonus to this lie is despite not accomplishing much, you do gain a giant dose of comparisonitis.
Of course this is ridiculous. It really doesn’t matter what the competition is doing, in fact I would argue that competition is an illusion. People don’t buy what you are doing or making. They buy your viewpoint, your personality, the fact that you are their people. There will always be someone doing what you are doing. So what?
I want it to be perfect.
Oh my hell I can’t launch yet. I still want to improve x and tweak y and do some more research and…
Listen, perfect is an illusion. There is no such thing as perfect and therefore if you are striving for perfection, you’ll never launch anything, ever. The only way to improve your craft is to launch often, fail early, and improve on the next one. I’m not saying go all filter-free and launch the first thing that enters your head, but calculated risk-taking is part of creating. Done is better than perfect every single time.
They’ll find out I’m an imposter.
If I launch something that fails/isn’t perfect, “they” will know that I don’t really have any idea what I’m doing.
Who are “they”, really? I think the vast majority of the world is shockingly self-absorbed. We aren’t sitting around laughing at everyone who launches. We are going crap! There’s another person doing something similar to me. Back to #1!
Can we all just agree to get over it already?
When I was a kid, I was convinced a vampire was coming to get me at night. I had to sleep with the sheets pinned down around my neck so Dracula wouldn’t be able to suck my blood out. (Weird kid? Probably.) Over time, I eventually forgot about vampires and I’m happy to say that today I frequently don’t sleep under the covers, yet I still have a healthy amount of blood.
All these procrastination techniques are really no different. Basically, it all boils down to fear, except instead of being afraid of death by vampire, we’re afraid of something equally ludicrous; other people’s opinions.
Launch the product, post the program, send the email. Because the worst thing you can do in your business is absolutely nothing – which incidentally will also be your client list and your bank balance if you don’t get launching.
What are you going to do today to move your business forward? I’m making promotional graphics for my new service.