I’ve been semi-consciously avoiding linking to Shane – who is a super awesome guy that I’m lucky to call a friend, who also recently got back on the blog wagon – only because I didn’t want go full bore into the “conversational” blogging just yet, where one blog post is just a reply to another. Which has it’s merits of course, but I wanted to get this in motion a bit on it’s own first. That said, I just landed in Tokyo after a day of delayed and the blog post I began to write was just a bitch fest about the people who sat next to me on the plane, which no one wants to read.
Shane posted today asking how people get things done and noting that is own MO has been less than satisfying. I’ve been thinking about this a lot for a while actually so I thought I’d run with it, which is probably more interesting than the “omg dude won’t give me any of the armrest!!” that I running towards.
#3 on Shane’s list is “Tell someone idea before it’s fully hashed out” which is an interesting bit here. I’ve heard the philosophy that you should never tell anyone about your projects until they are finished, because the mental reward of someone saying “oh yeah, that sounds great!!” is often enough to reduce your desire to finish it. It’s fulfilling in the same way on a neural level so it’s kind of like picking up a snack on the way to dinner, when you get to dinner you are less motivated to eat it. Or something.
I’m sure that is the case for some people. Did I just type that? How many people are there on this planet? Whatever case you can think of certainly applies to some of them. I’m such an idiot. Anyway, what I was saying is that I don’t think there is a universal policy here. For myself, I know very well that I’m really good at starting things and really bad at finishing them. I’m pitifully reliant on motivation from outside feedback. The exciting spark and first steps draws me in and I can go full bore on something like crazy, but, and especially on projects I’m working on with other people, if I feel like the overall enthusiasm is waning, or people aren’t that interested, then it’s really easy for me to get distracted by something shiny.
So for me, telling people about the things I’m working on is kind of paramount. Some people are great at going “into the garage for a month” and then coming out with an awesome thing they’ve created. Not me. I need to keep showing the progress to people and keep getting assurance that it’s worth my effort to keep working on it. I think that’s part of why I stopped blogging on a regular basis before – I just didn’t get the sense that anyone was listening so why should I keep talking?
I don’t want this to sound like an entirely negative trait, I think getting feedback is crucial and can help you see which direction to take things and can help you decide where to focus your efforts. I have shitloads of unfinished projects, but they are mostly projects that I’ve either never told anyone about. The stuff I put out into public as a much higher completion rate than the stuff I keep hidden. Not all of it of course. How long have I been talking about writing a book, or several books for that matter? How many of my books do you have on your bookshelf? Right. But generally.
I also noticed when I was digging around in my head over the last year that at some point in my life my approach shifted. When I was young I’d have an idea and I’d work on it and then I’d release it and then I’d run with it. It was exciting and it kind of made me me, if that makes sense. Around college I started “partnering” with people. I figured two brains were better than one. Double the efforts, double the rewards, and stuff. There’s a very clear point in my life where until then all my efforts were solo, and then after that everything was with other people. I don’t know if I lost confidence in my own ability to deliver, or if I thought I needed others to justify it… I don’t know. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I’m super proud of many of the collaborations I’ve been a part of. But it’s different. I’d like to do something on my own again – maybe this year – if I can remember how. And if I can stay motivated.