E.B. White urged that “a writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”
It's true for writing, designing, and even life. When we wait for those ideal conditions, we lose the opportunity to share our ideas, to learn, to fail, and, ultimately, to succeed. The thought here is that we need to start somewhere, regardless of how ideal the conditions are, how perfect your execution may or may not be, how experienced you are.
I laughed when I read this because it's exactly what I struggle with when my inner perfectionist gets in my way. I probably wrote - and rewrote - this first blog post, about 10 times, all because of her. Silly really because I can see how she obstructs my progress so I'm (slowly) learning to stop taking her so seriously.
That inner perfectionist needs to step aside and let one succeed or fall gracefully on their ass.
It's great to want to do your best but when it's time to actually DO something, that inner perfectionist needs to step aside and let one succeed or fall gracefully on their ass. Either outcome is as valuable as the other.
For me it all started after a series of life changes that made me realize how stifled I had been. Suddenly the urge to experience uncomfortable things were stronger than my fear of doing them in the first place.
I started breaking myself out, getting curious, and questioning everything I had believed of myself. Experimenting was a top priority and defining my limitations was essential to figuring it all out. I made a pact with myself to try things that I feared, whether it be big or small. Even if I really sucked at it, I was doing something. I was starting somewhere. I was learning. (My inner perfectionist hated the idea.) Some call it a Bucket List. I call it my Shit List; A list of things that scare the shit out of you.
The Shit List started out small – like joining Meetup groups & mingling with strangers, public speaking, going back to art school, starting a small side business. As time passed, I started adding bigger items like travelling on my own to unknown places & joining Tough Mudder. There were (and are) no limits allowed on this list, unless it's something I generally don't have interest in doing. But if it's something I always wanted to do but thought I couldn't, it was going on the list.
Most of the smaller tasks I breezed through and enjoyed for the most part. Others, like Tough Mudder, were far more challenging and would require a new lifestyle and outlook.
Not having an athletic bone in my body, I was nervous. I was going against everything I told myself - and even going against what others thought of me too. Best I could do was prepare and hope for the best so I started training for it - at first in the gym in my apartment building. I then stepped into a real one a few months later.
As I walked in, I was overwhelmed and intimidated by all of the athletes in the room; deadlifting, kettle-bell swinging, and burpee'ing. I had never done any of that before. What the hell was I thinking? I was as newbie as you got. I then realized - after a bit of coaching from my new trainer - that everyone started somewhere and that none of them were perfect. They were simply doing their best and working on improving whatever it was they felt needed it. I started applying that philosophy to life and to my work.
Starting something that's unfamiliar is much better than standing still in wonder, in fear...or whatever it might be that's holding you back.
Having two Tough Mudder headbands "under my belt", a brand new body to show for it, and already be registered for next years Tough Mudder, I have abolished the idea that I'm not or can't be athletic. All I had to do was start and not wait for those ideal conditions or moment of perfection. Put one foot in front of the other and you'll get there eventually. Each time wiser and stronger than the next.
And that's all we can - and should - expect from ourselves. Starting something that's unfamiliar is much better than standing still in wonder, in fear...or whatever it might be that's holding you back. Everything you know, everything you believe about yourself, and everything you feel will be challenged. You may do well. You may not. You may love it. You may hate it. It may change you. It may change your life.
So tell me...what's on your Shit List?