Just go for it

Side projects

We’ve all got them. Ideas born in our minds; brewed over time, dreamt and built up, gradually growing and expanding. Our minds sometimes imagine the huge impact they might one day have on the world, other times our brains tell us they aren’t going to work, they’re going to fail and flop. But so often, that’s all they do, they stay in our heads, never going anywhere else.

So when is it time to just go for it?

‘The grass is always greener on the other side.’

This is a feeling I’ve diagnosed myself with before. I’m terrible at it, I love what I do, but somehow always feel like if something was different it might be more helpful or productive.

When I worked shifts at a petrol station I was excited at the prospect of having lots of time outside of my shifts to work on creative personal projects. I quickly found this wasn’t as productive a time as I thought it would be, there were things to do at home, sleep to catch up on, time off to enjoy (as my days off weren’t always weekends). It didn’t work. I also didn’t really feel that inspired by the job itself, which might not have helped. But, after a few short months I was off.

Then getting my first ‘proper’ design job, working 9–5 (well 5:30), making a living. I thought this would help, having weekends off like everyone else meant I’d have good breaks, starting at 9am meant no more early mornings, and finishing at 5:30pm should give me good time in the evenings for those personal projects. However, I soon found that as I was spending more time in the day supposedly being creative, I had less desire to keep doing that when I got home each night.

Now, freelancing. I thought this would be the time when I can work on personal projects, there’ll surely be time when work isn’t coming in and I can use this time to create some cool stuff. So, after a year and a half of freelancing, are none of these great side projects out in the world? There’s been time when I could have worked on them, and I have a little bit, but they’re still not out there, rocking it in the real world. Why not?

Because maybe it’s more than just having the time, or the creative space, or the energy.

Those things affect it, but I think there’s more to it. Those things are just the excuses that hide bigger issues and worries, worries about whether it will succeed or fail.

I keep telling myself it isn’t the right time, and maybe it isn’t. Or I tell myself it needs more planning, and maybe it does. Or it just needs more work, it definitely does. But it’s just the worry that it might not work. Anyone who’s worked in a startup recently will probably have heard some variation on the quote ‘If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?’ And if I knew this wasn’t going to fail, I probably would have started it a long time ago. But I’ve built this project up so much in my mind that I am scared it will fail.

Idea Debt

I recently read this article about Idea Debt and it talks about this issue exactly. It describes this feeling precisely, building the project up so much that I don’t know how to start it, or I don’t know how to ever create it as well as I imagined it.

So I need to break it down, make it into smaller chunks that I can achieve and get stuck into properly. It’s a bit like a previous blog post I wrote last year about finishing long projects.

If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you’ll realise that I love new years resolutions, and so this year one of my resolutions was to make a start on one particular side project. However, because I’d built up idea debt with it, I didn’t actually tell many people that resolution, just in case I don’t do it. I told people all the others, but left that one out, but what good is that!

So, having thought about this. Today I launch a new side project. It’s called Winners & Losers. I’ve got huge plans for where it might go, but for now, it’s just a start, it’s just something to get it going, and we’ll see what happens to it. It might go as planned, it might not. It might not be as good, it might be better. But I’ll never know if I don’t launch it.

I’d love you to check out the new project, sign up for the newsletter and tell me know what you think. I’d also love to hear about any new projects you’re jumping into at the moment. Sometimes you just have to go for it. Go on!