Humans are masters of self-sabotage.
We are good at getting in our own way when it comes to our “someday goals” and dreams.
For me this can play out in a subtle way through the simple need to have everything worked out before starting. I guess this comes from a good and natural foundation.
After all, highly sensitive types naturally pause to observe the world (situations, challenges, and other people) before finding their way forward and deciding whether and how to act. And this has been a useful tool for human survival throughout our history (we spot dangers, patterns, and potential solutions without taking unnecessary risks).
But on the flip side this information gathering of useful information can take us into chronic procrastination and never-readiness.
Research and information-gathering can be useful to a point. But it can get in the way of actually living life. We can spend so much time learning about life, about being an introvert or a HSP, or creative etc that we don’t have any hours left to actually enjoy being those things. What does knowing you’re an introvert or HSP make possible? How will that transform the value of your life in this world?
The internet is a wonderful thing, but it is also a rabbit warren of research. It can be a huge distraction that feels like progress. Information gathering feels productive, but it isn’t always the case. Ever googled a health symptom? That’s often a slippery slope that would be nipped in the bud with a quick trip to the doctor (we usually know instinctively when we’re using research in the vague hope that there is some quick fix for the thing we know there is no quick self fix for).
Close the Laptop and Walk
Sometimes there is no substitute for closing the lid on Google and just getting on with things. Once you know what you need to know, there is no amount of knowledge that can truly prepare you for action. Words can’t truly describe the feelings you will experience, the way you are going to respond to adversity, and the unique encounters you will have along the way. Most learning happens when we know enough so that we can put down the book and get started.
Before I built my first website I read a lot of blogs about blogging. I read blogs and listened to podcasts about podcasting. Lapped up marketing and modern business books, and watched video after video of experts imparting their knowledge. My knowledge grew vastly. But that was always going to be a waste of time if I wasn’t going to use it for some purpose.
And yet taking that step and getting started was difficult. It required great vulnerability. I knew that walking the talk is harder than simply speaking it.
There are many people who get stuck on the talk. It’s a true comfort zone. They’re those at the pub watching the football, shouting at the referee because he “doesn’t know what he’s doing”. They are the people who apparently know everything and yet have no experience in the areas they “know about”.
It is the combination of knowledge, experience and reflective learning that breeds wisdom and growth.
Failure is Not an Option…It’s The Vehicle
Action requires an acceptance of potential failure; this is not attractive. To put the book down and actually get started means we are opening ourselves up in vulnerable ways. What if I fail? What if it’s harder than it looks?
“No, I’ll read one more video just to make sure I’m truly ready.”
The problem is, no one has written a book about your story. No one has developed the training manual on how to live your life as you need to live it. And living it requires you to take a step. To start.
Trust me, you’ll figure it out as you go. Truly understanding things, making sense of why things are and how they work requires proper engagement with them.
No Knowledge Prevents A Period of “Suckiness”
When I started my blog it sucked. Gradually over the years it’s improved, as have I. I’ve become more comfortable with my “voice” and clearer on my vision. And I’ve been better able to make things look more like I want them.
I’ve re-designed the website on a few occasions and increased the quality alongside my own investment as and when it’s felt needed. When I first launched it in 2009 it truly sucked. It looked clumsy and chaotic, it had no real focus and it turned out to be a lot harder than it looked to create a blog worth reading.
Even if I’d had the best developers and designers on the case it would still have sucked. It might not have looked like it sucked at first glance, but once you started reading it you’d quickly have realised that it did suck. But I persisted anyway because it was important to me. And I listened to feedback, was willing to change, learned everything I could about each aspect I wanted to develop, and then got started again. Oh and sucked for a while – podcasting, videos, mailing list and marketing. Clumsy and chaotic.
Pay Your Dues
You can’t truly learn the theory of songwriting until you start writing songs. And that means being ready to absolutely suck at writing songs. Most of the greatest songwriters have written more songs that suck than songs that don’t.
The same goes with playing sport, learning a hobby, starting a blog, building a business, and being ourselves. You can know everything about it, download someone’s blueprint for success, and dream of succeeding. But you will probably need to spend time sucking at it before you understand it and improve.
The idea of paying dues isn’t attractive in a world that wants instant results, but it’s an absolute necessity if you want your life to bring fulfilment and enjoyment.
This is unappealing to your perfectionistic tendencies. You want to be good right away, you want things to go to plan, and to avoid criticism. But the only way anyone succeeds is to allow themselves to suck until they no longer do. You want to make sure you know everything and have it all figured out before you start.
But this is impossible. It just can’t happen. The question is whether we care more about the result than we do about sucking. And then the only choice we have is whether or not we will commit to do something we suck at, with the only knowledge that matters…that’s the only way to stop sucking at it.
Over to You
Are you usually willing to suck at something in order to get better? Do you get stuck in the research phase and find it difficult to close the book and just get started? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, please leave your response in the comments below.