I’ve grown weary of self-deception at my “mature” age of twenty-six.
The act of lying to myself is exhausting–both mentally and emotionally–and I now realize that it is also completely unnecessary and unsustainable.
I have called myself a perfectionist, but claiming this title is effectively acquiescing to mediocrity. So rather than claiming I have a high standard of excellence, let’s call it what it is… an excuse. One that for so long enabled me to act as though the idea for an article, business, or book was as good as done. But daydreaming about a project isn’t the same as working on and seeing it through to its end.
When a project is still in your head, it can still be anything you want it to be because you haven’t taken your ideas and applied them yet to the physical world. They still exist in their purest forms.
And when you share these thoughts with others, you’re creating high expectations because you’re snatching them from the realm of fantasy and dropping them into reality. They’re still fresh and have yet to be scratched or dented, so of course, they shine magnificently.
But once you put pen to paper, there’s no longer a gap between what could be and what is. There’s just reality. The time, effort, and practice you’ve put in will be clearly visible, and people will see what you are truly capable of. There’s no way to hide a lack of preparation or talent when you’re putting something out for others to consume. It’ll be obvious that there’s a disconnect between your mouth and your capabilities, drawing attention to itself like a flickering neon sign.
I won’t deny that it feels great when you share your plans with others. You get your hit of dopamine when your friends or colleagues ask you more questions about your new project, as though it’s already complete. But that dopamine lessens when you actually sit down to actually work on your project. Why? Well, you’ve already gotten your fix from talking about it, the same way you would if you had actually started on it.
I find that I get a rush at the beginning of working on a project and that the first time I sit down to work on it, I can make a decent amount of progress. Fortunately, if I work hard enough the first time, I find it much easier to keep pushing forward until the momentum is on my side.
However, when I tell others about my plans, I get my instant dopamine fix, which essentially robs me of it when I actually need it to sustain my efforts.
Aside from a lack of dopamine, dozens of possible catastrophes are waiting to happen that can kill a project before it ever gains consciousness. You can experience a change of heart, stumble across a new idea that distracts you, or lose the time to dedicate yourself to it.
Having ideas is great and there’s nothing wrong with generating new business ventures or book plots in your head, the problem arises when to get excited and tell your friends and family because it leads others to have high expectations of you.
As someone who has shared my ideas prematurely before trying to execute them, it can be quite uncomfortable when someone brings up your already-dead projects and asks how you’re doing or tells you that they’re excited to see it when it’s done.
For one, it’s hard to tell someone you’ve quit, especially if you were enthusiastic about it the first time you told them. Secondly, if you decide to pick the project back up, it can feel like there’s a lot of pressure on you now because you’ve opened yourself up to be held accountable by others.
This has been on my mind recently because I am turning twenty-seven next month and will be thirty before realizing it.
To say that I have grown over the last nine years since graduating from high school is an understatement. I have transformed.
Aside from being the first in my immediate family to graduate from a well-known university and escape from the cycle of poverty that kept us down, I have also identified and removed many unproductive habits from my life. I saw these habits as standing in the way of my success and removed them the way one squeezes grime from a sponge to make my life more fulfilling. I have quit habits that weren’t bringing me closer to my goals like regularly watching Netflix, checking the news constantly, and playing video games. To substitute for these habits, I now spend much of my free time reading books, writing and working on other things.
However, one detrimental habit remains: talking about specific projects before completing them.
2020 has been the strangest year of my life, and I’m sure many others will say the same. If it’s taught me anything so far, it’s that nothing is guaranteed and that the only way to make your mark on the world is to pluck your shiny ideas from your head and bring them to life even if they are complete abominations.
It means waking up each day and doing–not talking, checking email, or falling back to sleep.
It means sitting down at the table or desk and getting to work by setting a timer for forty-five minutes (or more) to start writing that article you’ve been putting off, taking a chunk out of your business plan, or strapping on your shoes and getting yourself to the gym.
What I’ve found is that once you’ve completed your most pressing task, it won’t be hard to keep the momentum going.
If you need a dose of motivation, here’s some: there’s no excuse for giving up or sitting in the side car of your own life. Inaction is a self-imposed limitation only you can change.
Is there something you’ve been putting off?