No plan of battle ever survives contact with the enemy. – Helmuth Von Moltke
Some of us are stuck in a rut. We have dreams we’d like to achieve but no plan of action to achieve it. We want to start that business, project, or program but we’ve just been making too many excuses.
Some of us have actually gotten off our butts. And we can attest to how much of a different struggle it is. You often find it lonely or you’re not getting the support you wished you would get. Your plan of action had to be thrown away once you actually started the whole thing. Depending on where you are in life and how much at stake you risked with this goal of yours, failure could mean debt, bankruptcy, or even death (if your goal was to climb Mt. Everest).
No wonder we’re enamored by all these success stories. Most of us give up at some point and never achieve the goal we had set out in the first place.
I think the problem has to do with a lot of things. But for the sake of brevity, 3 things:
- Setting the bar way too high
- Not giving yourself sufficient time
- Focusing on the wrong values
Setting the bar too high: When starting out on a new venture you’re probably using someone else’ success or product as a mini blueprint to help guide you on your path. It’s good if you take away the good parts, but it can also be detrimental if your ego comes in and you start thinking you need to outdo others. Solve the simple problems first and if you’re eager to, you can iterate and improve after. It’s really a process of learning that you build on top of.
Not Giving Yourself Sufficient Time: Solving simple problems is not that simple, it’s hard. It’s easy to add a bunch of features to your program, it’s hard to figure out which features to leave out that would make your thing unique. We also tend to overestimate our capability to achieve goals in the short term (~6 months) and underestimate our capability to achieve goals in the long term (~2 years). So take your time. Meditate, do Muay Thai, play some music, watch a movie with your girlfriend, have a round with your friends, and spend time on your project. Only God can build something in 7 days. It’ll take you much much longer, so embrace that and stay on course for the long term.
Focusing On the Wrong Values: It’s my strong belief that the reason why most things fail or at least fail to gain traction is because of a lack of commitment to the project at one point or another. Excuses, whatever they might be, come up and inevitably less and less time is spent on it. Time is the ultimate indicator of success in my mind. As long as there is a human operator steering the ship, it will get to its destination. Of course, like Columbus, you might not reach the land of Spice and Silk. However, you might find something much larger than you could have imagined in the first place.
So step back from time to time, and go back to first principles and try to remember why you even wanted to achieve your goal in the first place. If your values towards your goal have any sense of merit, you will achieve it sooner or later. So have fun, and enjoy the opportunity you have been given!