Why Can’t We Just Do It?
FIRST OF ALL …
We all have our mental obstacles and inner consultants that tell us why we shouldn’t try anything new. Facing these thoughts in order to move on is better than trying to silence them.
We are billions of people in the world, and because we all have our own obstacles, there might as well be billions of reasons why you couldn’t do it. In addition to this, society builds up our identity and gives us various reasons why we shouldn’t try to do this and that.
Wrong gender? Wrong language? Living in the wrong place? Wrong shape or size? Classic.
Some of these are real obstacles in our society. But some of them are in our heads.
Our inner voice and thoughts are more powerful than we think. We all have around 6000 thoughts per day! Think about that. And guess what, we can’t control them. Great.
Your mind is a wonderer. It comes and goes wherever and whenever it wants. Our brains want to keep us safe. Against this, it’s no wonder that most of our thoughts are negative, sometimes paralyzing. And they will paralyze you if you don’t have a clear plan on how to go further.
Even though we can’t really control our thoughts and feelings, we can fact-check some of our prejudices and, most importantly, act towards our goals despite our 6000 thoughts.
Personally, the hardest part of a new project for me is the “day two”. Not in the literal sense but in a problem-sense. Day one is the exciting time when I finally have the energy to get the new project going or enter a new phase in it or have a new team to work with. You feel like you’re crushing it.
Day two might be the next day. Or it can be the week after. As Brené Brown puts it, it’s “the messy middle, the point of no return”. Every company and every project has a day two. When the issues and obstacles can be seen on the road. It is the moment when you wish you could turn back and forget the whole thing.
And this is an important part of the project. It is an internal process. The inner advisor is telling you to skip it or leave it. You feel that you’re not enough.
Sometimes day two appears due to significant external factors. You suddenly run out of money, or an important supplier backs out.
However, these phases are a part of the process.
It’s (just) day two.
AM I GOOD ENOUGH?
Let’s just dive into the deep corner.
This is one of the inner thoughts we all have. Let’s not try to push the voice down, though. Let’s invite it in and find out what is the message it carries with it. Behind it, is fear and care. If we are taking too big of a risk that we can’t handle, we will not succeed. It is a relevant point. And there are several guidelines on how to analyze the risk.
If your IDEA is placed in the existing industry or similar and you will operate with the skills you already have, you are safe. If you move to a new initiative based on your existing skills, you must learn the industry knowledge. If you are moving to a new position in an existing business, you have to learn new skills. And if you are about to start a new business that requires new skills, there is a high risk, and you need to re-train.
Learning new things can push you on a journey to learn more. A small disclaimer, though.
It is easy to over-educate yourself and not take action.
It is more important to take steps towards your real goal.
Whatever your situation, lifelong learning – even if it is a bit of a cliché – will be the only attitude you can have if you want to put your ideas to action. When you are eager to learn more, you are most probably going the right way.
And think of it again. The seemingly least risky option might actually be the riskiest option in the end. If you are happy with the same industry and the same position and get to live by your values, it is a perfect situation. However, if it is not, staying tightly within your comfort zone will lead to watching life go by—day by day. Taking calculated risks does not mean that you have to give up everything.
And one more piece of advice: Do not fall into the quality trap. Most of the time – basically always – the release-and-repeat is a better method than overthinking your work too much.
AM I TOO OLD FOR THIS IDEA?
Now, time for a quiz.
Please answer as fast and as honestly as you can.
Are creative people young, middle-aged, or old?
You can easily make a statement: a young age equals creativity.
But fortunately, that is not the case. As creativity and leadership researcher Albert-László Barabási points out in his book The Formula, the key is not the age, but more so the resilience. The older we get, the less we try. When a young researcher fails, he is still eagerly sending his articles to publications. Young musicians will send their demos to record labels; young writers will rewrite their texts and continue sending them.
But as we get older, we lose some of that resilience. We get status, and we are not eager to face uncertainty and rejection anymore. We are busy with other things, kids, health, divorce, and sick parents. You name it. The number of times we try new things is not the same.
Creativity will not go outdated – there is no expiration date.
If you have the same resilience to take hits as your younger self, you can create whatever you want.
WHAT IF I LOSE EVERYTHING?
Preparing for the worst and protecting yourself from the “downside” is the most critical thing to calm yourself down. In other words, it means what would happen if everything goes south. Whether the risk is worth taking or not depends on your personal profile and how big the dream is. After all, most of us – even the billionaires – must face failures in life. It is more about how to face the failures in life than how to avoid them, since avoiding them would mean not trying anything new in the first place.
For me, the risks are dependent on values. Can I live the life I want as a whole if I move in this new direction?
When I protect the downside, I try to see three different perspectives.
The first is a very wide one, namely, time and energy. For me, the triangle of personal, family, and professional life must be in balance.
So if the new challenge makes me travel more than 25 days a year, it conflicts with my family values. Or if it frequently takes so much energy that I won’t exercise or meditate, there is a problem.
The second perspective is the project. Starting an international company is a big challenge. Protecting the downside means that I am aware of how much money I could end up losing and that I carry that risk if everything goes wrong. In the financial structure, it is also helpful to understand who is in control. Is your loan flexible? Do you have control of your company or the investors?
Building a financial strategy is more important than I thought. It is almost as important as the business idea itself.
The third perspective is my personal reputation.
If I don’t succeed with this approach, what can I do afterward?
The key is to have a realistic picture of the situation. If you are an industry expert who is building a company based on your core skills, you know the business’s nuts and bolts.
However, if you are moving to a new industry, please be careful. Most of the time, it takes more time and money than you allocated.
After you have a clear picture of the playground you want to enter, you can analyze it.
And remember, it is not possible to lose everything if you only take calculated risks.
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