Doing things is hard. By definition, the universe is trying to become disorganized; things are constantly falling apart, reverting to their most chaotic state. Possibly the only thing that sets humans apart from beasts is our ability to intentionally find and create order in this insane bag of atoms.
There’s way too much to talk about when it comes to doing things (notably, there is a lot to do after the beginning). This essay isn’t going to cover all of that. The only thing I want to talk about today is how to start things. Arguably the hardest part, the moment in time right before doing something when you have to make some sort of conscious decision to turn your attention to it, to actually do it.
This whole essay started as one of my biggest pet peeves. It drives me absolutely nuts when people tell me they want to do something, but then give some reason why they can’t start quite yet. The Toolbox Fallacy is the classic example of this:
The Toolbox Fallacy is self-deception disguised as excuses or a lack of “tools”. The issue with these tools is that you believe that you need them and thus, can’t (or won’t) start a project without them.
but honestly, the obvious examples most people talk about aren’t the problem here. Those are obvious, commonplace; it’s easy to identify and point out when you are blocked by something like that. The really insidious ones always run a bit deeper, some justifications are hard to shake.
I am here to tell you:
Sometimes these excuses exist because you actually don’t want to do it.
Are you afraid that you might fail, that you might end up looking like a fool? Are you afraid it might not be what you think?
Sometimes we make these excuses because we don’t actually want to do something. Maybe we are afraid, we don’t actually have the energy, it’s just something that we literally can’t do. It’s always important to tear down our excuses to the root of their motivations. Do you really need to buy those climbing shoes, or are you just afraid to look stupid trying to climb in front of strangers? Fear is such a stupid reason not to do something. Sometimes fear exists for a reason, a learned response to a past trauma. But almost every time, it’s just not worth letting that stop you from trying.
Honest to god, just shut the fuck up. All you need to do is start doing it. The beginning is supposed to feel uncomfortable. You are supposed to want to make it work.
I like to use the metaphor of the line equation, y = mx + b. Every line is made up of two things: the y-intercept (b) and the slope (m). Everything you ever do will be made up of the same components. What matters more to you? Where you are today, or how fast you are getting better. I will be returning to this metaphor quite often, especially later when I write about how to actually get better at something. But for the purposes of this essay, the important thing to note is that on a long enough timeline (for large enough x), the y-intercept just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter where you start. The only two things that matter are that you do start, and that you try to get better.
Just get started.
My dear readers, thank you for making it this far with me. I hope something about this struck a chord. If it did, I swear to god, please reach out to me, I would love to know. My goal with these essays is to define a generalized process for getting stuff done, for pushing your will into the world, and making a difference. I am going to make a lot of assumptions about you as we go, I never intended to offend (however, sometimes I do try to spin a fine rhyme), my goal is not to tell you who you are, but to use my assumed persona of you as a common point of perspective that I can explain ideas from.
Here’s what I am promising for now. I will keep working on this. This essay will definitely change a lot, more will be added, embarassing things will be cut, new essays will be written. I am going to just start working on this, and eventually it will be finished.