Tag Archives: getting started

Do bad work so you can do great work

If you know what you want to do, but you feel stuck and are not getting started, this post is for you.

Perfectionism is the action killer. Do something badly a first time, then do it the second time, and a third, and you’ll be far ahead of where you are now. So far ahead of the person waiting vainly to be “ready”.

You’re not good yet, and that’s okay. If it matters to you, keep going.

When you fall, the sand will catch you.

It’s okay to be afraid to start. Just don’t let fear stop you.

Words of wisdom from someone who started badly, and from there gone on to very big things:

You don’t run into people who say, “I’ve written 7,000 blog posts and none of them are any good. Can you help make me make my writing better?” What they say is, “I’m blocked.” Well, actually you’re not. Because you can talk. You can speak. You’re just not writing down what you’re saying because you’re afraid.

And improving your work is a hundred times easier than getting a guarantee that your work will be fine.

So, do bad work. Do it often, do it generously, and then work to improve it. That’s how you learned how to walk. It’s how you learned how to talk.

It’s how you learn how to do everything that matters to you. But now suddenly you’re waiting for a guarantee. It doesn’t work that way.

It’s so easy now to blog every day. So easy now to put up a video. So easy now to put your work into the world. And if you’re willing to do it poorly, then you could probably learn how to do it better. – Seth Godin (emphasis added)

The trap of doing more and the value of starting small

You develop a good habit of meditating for 3 minutes a day. Moving up to 5 minutes a day, you start to feel like there is a benefit from it. Reducing anxiety, improving focus, this is really worth the time! So you decide, “I’m going to do 15 minutes every day.”

And maybe that will work and maybe it won’t, depending on what is in your life already and what habits of mind and action you’ve already developed.

It may be that you find yourself putting off the meditation, leaving it until later and then not actually getting back to it. Intending to do it tomorrow, but never finding it compelling enough to do today.


One small slice out of a cheesecake

Where to start? With the first small slice. (Adapted from Cheesecake Dessert, CC0.)

If that happens, recognise it, forgive yourself and perhaps have a laugh about it, and dial it back. Consistency and small, achievable steps build habits.

What else helps:

  • Follow policies rather than making decisions. I.e. consider what would happen if you made this same decision every time you were in this circumstance.
  • Understanding the consequences and reminding yourself of your goals.
  • Accountability.
  • Scrunch goals – a commitment that if somehow you don’t achieve your goal, you’ll at least do the minimum, to keep the momentum and stay connected to the goal. Even if that’s 2 minutes.

As always, use what supports you and works for you and leave other strategies to the side.

When fear of starting is a paper-thin wall

In the context of discussing procrastination and the pain of starting, a commenter writes:

Fear is a wall 1000 miles wide and a mile high, but only tissue paper thin. A la Harry Potter running through the brick wall to the train station. – (source)

brick wall blocking sight

Adapted from Brick Wall Texture.

This is a helpful frame. Anything that helps me get started for a matter of minutes, even seconds, or that makes starting just a little more pleasant, gives me a chance of continuing and possibly finding flow.

(I’ll be posting more on this topic, including micro-pomodoros, preparing the workspace and first physical actions, and you’ll find these with the getting started tag.)