After writing three books, launching numerous products, starting a business and coaching other creatives and entrepreneurs through their own projects, I have learned this:
overwhelm is one of the most common hurdles
between vision and action.
Sometimes, overwhelm comes from the sheer size of the project and the number of moving parts. Sometimes, it’s fear-based (“What will people think of me? What if I fail?”). Sometimes, it’s the result of a knowledge gap (“How am I going to pull this off?”). Sometimes, it’s a heady combination of all three.
From my experience, I also know that
overwhelm is 100% surmountable.
Here are three principles you can use to turn overwhelm into inspiration and get started on your next big project:
1. Focus on the very next step you need to take
Big projects are like marathons. If you’re at the beginning of a marathon and dwell on the long 24 miles that lie ahead, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. If you stay focused on reaching the next mile marker, or even on the very next step you need to take, it’s a lot less daunting.
The same principle applies to big projects. Decide what your mile markers will be in advance, then break each mile into individual action steps. Every marathon is run one step at a time and each project is completed one action at a time. Your job is to focus on the very next action before moving on to the one after that.
2. Embrace the crappy first draft
As Reid Hoffman famously said:
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version
of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
When we’re creating something new, it’s tempting to wait until that particular project or product is just right before unveiling it to the world. In reality, action beats perfection every single time.
Not only is creating a “crappy first draft” inevitable, it’s a necessary and important part of the creation process. We think that the longer we hide ourselves away, the better the final product will be. In reality, embracing that crappy first draft is the only way to progress beyond beginner stage. Without the experience of putting something — anything — out there and getting feedback, you won’t be able to improve and you’ll be stuck in the starting blocks forever.
When I get stalled working on my own crappy first drafts, I find it helpful to reconnect with my “big why” — the reason I’m doing this that is bigger than myself. When I remember that I’m doing this because I believe the world is a richer place when we’re self-expressed, it checks my ego. It doesn’t really matter whether or not I might look a bit silly, because the end goal is much bigger than just me.
3. Remember that self-doubt doesn’t mean you’re not ready
One of life’s biggest ironies is that we rarely feel “ready” to do something new until we’re actually doing that thing. This requires a leap of faith, one that many of us are afraid to take because we experience self-doubt.
As leadership coach Tanya Geisler explains, however, your self-doubt isn’t a sign of your inadequacy, it’s actually a sign of your integrity. It’s a sign that you care and that you want to do your project well. Far from being a sign that you’re not the right person to write this book or start that business, your self-doubt is a sign that you are the perfect person to do it, because you’ll make sure you do a darn good job.
Your next steps:
- Write down the very next action you can take to bring you one step closer to completing your big project.
- Do that action right now. Remember done is better than perfect and embrace your “crappy first draft,” whatever that looks like.
- Make a list of all the reasons your self-doubt says you’re not ready to take on this project. Take each of those reasons and look for any truth in them; are there any gaps in your knowledge? Is there an aspect of your business you could pay more attention to? Commit to taking one integrity-inspired action over the next week.
Hannah Braime believes the world is a richer place when we have the courage to be fully self-expressed. She is a coach, indie author, and rational optimist who helps creatives and entrepreneurs go off-script and carve out their own path in business and life. Find her at www.becomingwhoyouare.net and connect with her on Twitter: @hannahbraime