Too much planning makes you too invested in your plan. The times when I have planned and prepped and prepared and mapped out the entire project ahead of time are the times I feel trapped and stuck and unable to change direction or pivot to a new idea.
When it’s all mapped out ahead of time, I often feel stuck. The joy of discovery and the freedom of failing seem to be taken away because I’ve committed to a ‘plan’ and when you commit, well, you’re supposed to commit. I get too attached to my plan. I’m not able to see other options or just call it quits (yes, sometimes quitting is important).
As a result, I’ve fallen into the trap of confusing my preparation and planning for actually doing the hard work of starting a project. I look down the road and prepare for every potential pitfall. In reality, I’m just spinning my wheels. I’m crossing the bridge 30 miles before I get to it.
What’s the alternative to planning?
Just start. Pull the trigger and start doing something. Start today. Start small. Start running. Start designing. Start writing. Start baking. Start teaching. Whatever — just start.
There’s a difference between starting and planning. Planning is not starting. Planning has its place but I believe it’s overrated and can cause ideation paralysis. We get so stuck planning our big idea that we don’t ever move into making it happen. Strategy and ideas and research are important, but they don’t count as starting. Crafting your building and then sharing your project with the world — that’s starting.
But what if my idea sucks?
The film director Robert Rodriguez says in his book, “Rebel Without A Crew” that every great director has perhaps dozens of bad films in them that need to come out before they actually get to the good films. I love this. Starting, as opposed to planning or researching, allows us to get our ‘bad films’ out of the way and move closer to our great ones. It teaches us. It educates us. It’s a beautiful process.
It's okay to start our wobbily
How did you learn to ride a bike as a kid? Was it weeks of meticulous planning and hours of research and scores of meetings? Or did you just get on the bike and start? Were you a poor bike rider at first? Absolutely. We all we’re. We fell down, we wiped out, we skinned our knees. But soon enough, we’re cruising through the neighborhood on our Huffy — because we started.
Planning and brainstorming and dreaming about your big idea are easy. Starting is hard. What does it look like for you to start on your idea? No more delays, no more waiting. What can you do right now that counts as starting? Runners run. Writers write. Designers design. Pull the trigger.