On Doing

There’s a big difference between Doing Something and Doing Something Right—it’s not the end product, as you would expect, but the mindset that carries you there.

Fearing Failure

Every time I used to sit down to write or design I felt a nagging fear creeping around the lower corners of my mind. It started out as just a little self doubt, with me thinking about what has to be Done and asking myself whether or not I could Do it. If I wasn’t careful the little wisps of self doubt grew into looming clouds of seizing fear as negative questions piled up like fresh kindling. Before I knew it I'd psyched myself out and, fearing that I wouldn't be able to Do anything Right, I'd move on to something else.

There’s hope, however; I've come upon a slight shift in mindset that has allowed me to splash the kindling with water and ignore my nagging doubts.

The Achievability Factor

While it sounds like a cross between Fear Factor and a Ben Stein trivia show, the Achievability Factor is a simple concept whose roots plague our minds. It’s the basis for the question we ask ourselves every time we sit down to work: Can I do this?

If we strip away all the weeds and get to the crux of Achievability, it all boils down to a very simple idea: we don’t know if we can achieve something until we do. And the harder the challenge and longer it takes, the more doubt that builds up. Lucky for us, there’s an easy way to combat this problem: instead of trying to Do Something Right, just focus on trying to Do Something, period.

Doing Something v. Doing Something Right

When our goal is Doing Something we're guaranteed to achieve it. The moment we touch pen to paper or mousepoint to vectorfart we’ve immediately succeeded. Then it’s just a matter of stringing together a chain of Doing Somethings. Before we know it, we’ve Done Something.

On the matter of Doing Something Right, it’s unlikely that we’re going to get things perfect on the first shot. The problem with always aiming to do things Right is that it’s possible (and likely) we’ll fail several times in a row. And that can get frustrating. Instead, we’re much better off not worrying about it—the Right will find its way into the equation on its own, usually when we least expect it.