Maybe it’s a function of the current schizophrenic state of our society, but it seems as if many of the people I know are all languishing a strange kind of “life purgatory.” We’re all perched right on the precipice of pulling the trigger on some major project or decision, but just haven’t yet been able to take that all-important first step.
I can’t quite put my finger on the root cause of this mass paralysis. Maybe it’s just a collection of anecdotes, but almost to a person, my friends have the next step in front of them and, for whatever reason, can’t do it.
So here I am to declare this as the year that we will do the thing. What thing? THE thing. Start the podcast. Quit the job. Start the blog. Buy the house. Take the class. Write the book. Whatever the thing is – do the thing.
Although I am not particularly good at sales, I married someone who is a true expert salesman. When he goes out to meet with potential clients he always spends time before the meeting anticipating both their potential objections and how he will shoot each down. Luckily for our family, he’s a superior marksman.
I’ve heard several objections to taking the first step from my friends (and admittedly from my own internal dialogue). Here are those popping up with the most frequency:
The “who am I?” objection
Who am I to start the company/have a podcast/write a book/quit my job? This objection is the inverse of an appeal to expertise. You may feel like you’re surrounded by people who are in a better position to do what you’d like to accomplish.
There will always be someone richer/freer/younger/older/smarter than you who can do whatever it is you want to do. Let it go. The difference between them and you is that you will do the thing in a way that only you can. So do it.
Also, “who are THEY?” Even the best in the world at their respective endeavors, the kings and queens of industry, the best writers – are just people.
The next time you say to yourself: “Who am I to do this thing?” remember that everyone else who has accomplished anything asked themselves that very question. Somewhere inside of them came the answer, “I am me, and here I go, doing the thing.”
The “what if I’m laughed at?” objection
You will be laughed at. There’s no way around it. Anything you do that’s big, bold, special, or different will result with someone laughing at you.
We all understand intellectually that their mocking is a product of some deep-seated insecurity and they’re probably just jealous of you, but that doesn’t always seem to make it easier emotionally.
So, sadly the only real answer is: buck up. Let them laugh. F$%k ’em.
The “what if I fail?” objection
Like being laughed at, this is an eventuality. You will fail. It will happen. The whole project might not fail, on the other hand, it might. It’s impossible to accomplish anything without failure.
One of the tricky things about failing is that if you do it enough, it can eventually lead you to success. If you fail enough, you will learn enough lessons through that process to figure out what works. That will only occur, however, if you approach failure with a mind open to the lessons it can teach you.
Failure is not the worst thing that can happen. The worst thing that can happen is never starting.
The “perfect is the enemy of the good” objection
I am the WORST at overcoming this objection with myself. Invariably, the moment I post a video to YouTube and it gets some views, or as soon as I have a tweet with some likes – I find a mistake or a typo. This, of course, seems to happen most often on the platforms where there is no option for an edit.
Balancing the desire to create a superior output with the need to put something out at all is a constant struggle. If you’re in sales there’s the term “always be closing” and when you’re in any kind of development it’s “always be shipping.”
Realize the first thing you put out will not be perfect. It just won’t. Put it out anyway. Just hit the “publish” button. Tweet the thing. Fill out the application. Buy the url.
It won’t be right. You may have to do it again. And again. And even again. It’s ok. Keep going. The next one will be better.
The “I’m too tired/overwhelmed/busy” objection
This objection speaks to my soul. As of this writing I have a 2-year-old, a 5-month-old, 7 goats, a seemingly endless number of chickens and ducks, a garden that I need to pull together, a to-do list that just won’t quit, a pet wallaby, 20 extra pounds that will not go away, and earlier this week I threw my back out merely because I tried to pick up a baby and sneeze at the same time. There are some (many) days where I step back and ask myself “what the HELL am I doing?”
I also know, I will never again be this young. I will never again have this exact set of circumstances in my life. I am at a place where if I stretch enough, even when it makes me uncomfortable, I can do things this moment I will never be able to do again in the same way.
Just like being laughed at and failing, it will happen. You will be tired. You will get overwhelmed if you do it right. Do it anyway. Just keep going.
So, I say all that to say – I have my own insane thing, friends. Here is the thing I haven’t put out into the aether because I have been afraid I will be laughed at, or I will fail at it.
This is my thing that I ask myself, “who am I to do it?” It makes me wonder if I should just try in 2021 when my kids, (of the human variety) are a little older, and I’m a little less busy, and our finances are a little better. Here is the thing I have four draft blog posts about, in various states of the writing process, but can’t publish because none of them are good enough.
I am going to try to live off the fruits of our little farm for a year.
There are lots of details to come. Yes, I will be able to leave. Yes, I am allowed, (according to the rules committee comprised of my husband and friends) to BARTER for things I don’t have. But, overall, I’m going to try to do this very hard, but very cool thing.
So, there you go. I put it out there. I’m going to hit publish on this piece about overcoming our objections and pulling the trigger on big and crazy things and then there’s no going back. I’m going to take my own advice.
Do the thing. I’ll start. You next.