Originally posted 2016-10-17
Before I dive into this week’s article, I want to extend a warm welcome to everyone joining us for the first time. After Be Kind reached the top of Hacker News, the Monday Mailer grew by more than 600 subscribers – in less than 48 hours. I’m glad you’re here!
Have you ever found yourself close to finishing a side project, only to become stymied by one last task you need to complete? You have to figure out how to integrate Stripe payments. Or you’re futzing around with the landing page design. You know you should just ship the damn thing but, for whatever reason, you can’t.
It feels like running the New York Marathon. Except when you near the finish line, there’s a brick wall in your way. At that point many of us give up and walk away, promising to do better next time. But the cycle continues. We start the next project full of energy. Then, as we near the finish line, we stall. Again.
I’m as guilty of it as anyone. Here’s a gem Facebook surfaced recently.
I never did ship that project, by the way. If I had a nickel for every side project I’ve abandoned, I’d be living large right now.
Why do we allow ourselves to get so far, only to succumb to procrastination?
Often, deep down, it’s because we’re afraid. Afraid of failure. Afraid of what our family and friends will think. Afraid that, if everything isn’t just perfect, we’ll have wasted our time. Afraid that we’ve built something nobody wants. It’s safer to keep fiddling around – secure in the knowledge that, as long as the project sits on our hard drive, we don’t have to risk anything.
It’s self-sabotage. And, for those of us trying to do our best work, build an audience, and make an impact, it’s a habit we have to break.
A lot of times people fall into this pattern because they put the concept of “Launch Day” on a pedestal. They think they get one shot to reach a huge number of people and impress them. They’re not only wrong – they’re limiting their audience.
When I started working on Chronicons, my icon set for Apple Watch apps, I took the opposite approach. Instead of hiding it away from prying eyes, I shared what I was doing as often as possible. I wrote about it on my blog, posted updates on Twitter, and solicited feedback on Dribbble. I got valuable comments and advice from designers around the world and built up an audience of people who couldn’t wait to buy from me. And they stuck around once the launch had come and gone! It’s a process I’ve repeated a few times since, with similar results.
I won’t lie – it’s hard to do, the first few times. But it gets easier with practice.
You side project could be a huge hit. Or, it could be a disappointing flop. But until you can set aside your fears and share it with the world, you’ll never find out.
You – and your work – deserve better.
Until next time,