For the past few years, it’s been a big priority for me to be creating stuff — app, games, that sort of thing. And as each year has passed with me falling short of my goals in that area, it has become increasingly difficult to still feel like it’s going to happen, and not get myself down with negative self-talk. If this sounds familiar, maybe this post will be valuable for you.
In essence, it involves identifying what’s actually keeping you from doing the things you care about, on a psychological level. I’ll walk you through my own barrier and hopefully that will help you identify yours.
My falling short of my goal multiple years in a row was not for lack of trying. I consistently set out to work on new projects, only to decide against seeing them through for one reason or another. What happened that changed everything for me was connecting with a purpose that truly resonated with me.
Ever since I left the U.S. to start traveling the world, it’s been a goal of mine to find out what I actually care about, since the pursuit of money has lost its appeal to me. In the past, I was extremely financially-motivated, but after reaching some of my financial goals and finding that all my problems in life still existed, I saw through the veil a little. Well very recently, I connected with a desire I’ve had for quite a while in the back of my mind: I’d like to build an army of AI robots to tend to my every need. How f*cking cool would that be, right?!
And since connecting with that, I’ve had an absolutely effortless time working on creating my own stuff. And through the observation of this change, I’ve identified the reason why as being the removal of a big psychological barrier.
You see, when I would set out to work on apps, games, etc. in the past, there was always some end goal in mind, or some expectation I had of how I should be working, that necessitated that I do things a certain way. Maybe the expectation was that I’d build an app people would actually use. Or maybe it was creating something that I could make money from and have it be “worth my time.” Another big thing that would come up a lot is the idea of efficiency. I’ve always been a very fast coder, and my level of efficiency is something that has distinguished me from other devs. But in the end I became a bit of a slave to it. Let me outline an example for you:
I had this idea that it would be cool to make a WordPress plugin so that people could easily create great-looking opt-in welcome gates for their site. I am close with some people with large audiences in the online marketing space, so it wouldn’t be too hard for me to make some money from this. So I set out to build it. And as I was working, I kept hitting a wall: I kept having to choose whether to build it efficiently, or build it “right.” Not that the efficient way would be shitty or break or something; just that I’d be sacrificing features and flexibility that I really didn’t want to. But the catch with going the “right” way is that it would take significantly longer to build. And so as I was working, I found myself constantly split between this decision of “right vs efficient” and it was pretty paralyzing & overwhelming. I’m all for building an MVP, but when it’s a piece of software I feel like the core functionality still needs to be pretty solid, even if it is an MVP; and it was the core functionality that I was having the “right vs efficient” internal battle over.
But then I connected with this goal of mine to build AI robots and everything changed. When I identified that as my new long-term goal, I recognized that I’ll be wanting to spend a lot of time over the next few years learning lots of new code, math, and learning about how people and robots learn. And that’s where the shift came from; now that I have this goal to simply learn a lot of new code, whenever I am working on an app and split between a decision like the one I outlined above, the answer is easy: just do whichever one is going to result in me learning the most.
So in short, the thing that made the biggest difference for me was changing my end-goal of the things I care about to something easy to achieve.
Of course, there are still challenges. For example, this end goal of learning makes it much more difficult to do under-stimulating coding that I’m already very well-versed in, since I’m not really learning anything new from it. But that parameter doesn’t keep me from doing the things I want to be doing, so it doesn’t really bother me.
Hope this helps you get out of your own way a little bit — perhaps it would be worthwhile for you to look at the things you want to do but keep not doing, and really try to think about how it is that you are feeling when you set out to do them. What is it that eventually dissuades you from continuing down the path? Is there something with your outlook that you can shift in order to reframe the relationship you have with this goal? Feel free to comment below with your goals that you’re wanting to actually work on; I’m interested to hear what they are.