Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Post About Nothing

Tipping my hat to Mr. Jerry Seinfeld, whose productivity hack I am stealing :). (While I love the hack, I still hate the show. Sorry, Jerry.)  And now, in Seinfeld style, a post about nothing.

The hack is "Don't Break the Chain," as featured here, here and here. You get a big, year-long calendar and put a big bright 'X' on everyday that you work. (You get to pick what's work - for a comic, it's writing.) As you probably deduced, the hack is not "break the chain." You want a big, long streak of 'X's on your calendar. This is designed to keep you working, even when you don't really feel like it. The joy of keeping the chain going can help keep you motivated even on days when you're not.

This is somewhat related to a recent post from my on-again-off-again favorite blogger, Leo Babauta. Favorite blogger because he seems to have such joy and, more than many other writers I follow, really seems to have found his bliss. I have now unsubscribed from his updates five or six times now, though. There are times when it seems like I won't ever be in a similar place and I lose hope and click 'unsubscribe.'

Back to his post, though. His (second) most recent post (as of this writing) is all about motivation and how to get moving when you really don't feel like it (or feel like there's a point to it, anyway.) He describes waking up in a funk and thinking
"Should I just give up what I do, because I’m not as good at it as I thought I was?"

And all I could think was "how did he get in my head?" This, in turn reminded me of Scott Hanselman's now-famous post on being a phony. In both instances, I thought that if these people who I respect and try to emulate can feel like they're not good enough to work sometimes, maybe I should just suck it up and push harder at my own work. And that I'm not (in Kirstie Alley's great moment) too stupid to live.

Which brings me back to the title of my post. If I'm too afraid to do anything, if I think that my effort won't even be worth it, then I will have nothing to show at the end of the day. Nothing. It's taken years for me to start to think that it's better to have a failed project at the end of the day than to have just filled my head with more information, quotes and other people's ideas. As Seth Godin says, to have been merely a spectator of my day. So, instead of nothing, I will have something. It may not be great. It may not even really work all the way, but it will be something. It's better than nothing.

P.S. And here it is:

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