Do something badly

Crumpled Paper

When it comes down to it, I’m mostly okay with failure. Sometimes I do my best, and things don’t work out, and there isn’t anything that I can do about it. I’m less okay with being bad at something. Being bad at something will often keep me from participating. I’m cool with the idea that I may not win, I just really don’t want to¬†suck. I’d guess that this isn’t unique to me. You probably feel the same way, right?

This is a problem. Because ninety percent of the time being good at something comes after a long period of being bad at it.

There’s a series of videos from Ira Glass of This American Life talking about storytelling, and in part 3 of 4 (posted below) he talks about this specific problem.

I’ll give away a bit of the punch line of the video and say that Glass’ advice is to do a lot of work and it will be a lot of bad work (he plays an example of his).

So, this year, how about you join me in doing something badly (like blogging, for example), or art, or music, or activism. Let’s do a lot of it, and eventually it will turn into something good.

Photo Credit: Mateusz Atroszko

Of Milestones and Halfway Marks

A photo of a rusty bicycle chain in winter

I’ve done this blogging thing before, on a variety of platforms and with a variety of names. Approximately two blog versions ago, I used to bike to work. Biking to work was good for me, it kept me in better shape than I am right now, gave me time to think, and inspired a small series of blog posts about things that I observed about biking that I thought would be useful. As I think back on that time, and since so many people are doing resolutions and other commitments to a better life in 2016, here’s a thought that I don’t think I wrote down then, but I hope may be useful now.

While I said that biking kept me in better shape than I am right now, it shouldn’t be taken to imply that I was in particularly good shape. I was never a natural athlete. Biking 6 to 8 miles everyday, while not a big deal to a lot of my friends who bike, was an effort for me. As I figured out my preferred route along which I could huff and puff to work I started to figure out where the approximate halfway mark was between my apartment and work. On any given day, I figured that if I could make it to that point, I knew I could make it the rest of the way. Even making it to that halfway point was hard, so I found a point halfway to that, and figured if I can make it to the quarter point, then I could make it to the halfway point, and so on.

It turns out, that I had stumbled upon a pretty decent way to keep myself motivated through long projects. We’ve probably all heard the idea of breaking up a large project into achievable chunks, this is just a variation on that same theme. It’s about strategically setting up the first set of those milestones so that they are proof that the next milestone is achievable.

So, if your resolution is to exercise 3 times a week, then if you make it through the first week of 2016, take it as proof that you can make it through the second week of 2016. If you make it through the second week, then it means you can probably make it through all of January, etc.

So here’s to your resolutions and goals for 2016. I wish you all the best at achieving them.

Photo Credit: Dusty J via Compfight cc