SUMMARY: It took a lot of self-deprogramming for me, a formerly-meek preacher’s kid, to come to terms with a desire to achieve great things on my own terms. Now that I’ve accepted the challenge, how am I going to start?
I have a tendency to start and stop lots of projects. The cycle of project birth to death is a swift one, because they are simulated rapidly in my mind before they get to the real world. It doesn’t take long to imagine the possibilities, benefits, itemized costs and likely payoff; many of these ideas are filed away. The projects that actually make it out fall into three “needs-based” classes. First, there are the ones that have an immediate need for an actual person. Usually this is paid project work. A growing second class of work have been “micro projects” for people I’ve come across who have an interesting story, and need some means (perhaps a website) to spread it on the technical mystery that is The Internet; what is like pulling teeth for them is relatively easy for me. The third class, which is potentially the most important class of them all, consists of projects that I need. These are projects like fixing the website, creating software, organizing the various forms, and so on. Unlike the other two classes of project, these are solo projects, and because of that I tend not to be pulled into them. It takes considerable effort.
I have been thinking about this problem over the summer, maintaining a very light project load to figure out what was important to me. If I wasn’t working on those Class 3 projects, perhaps it meant that I really didn’t want to do them at all, and maybe that was even OK. For a while I believed that this was the case, and thought that fulfillment would come from serving other people’s needs. The payoff is certainly more tangible in the form of direct recognition of my contribution by another person, and that’s important. What’s increasingly important is that I make something that gets that same acknowledgment. In other words, my ego is saying that I need to make my own stuff, and be recognized for it, because it would kick ass. But that means I have to suck it up and start disciplining my design methodology to produce stuff more consistently. With my personal design work, I’m used to just taking my time with it because it’s essentially for fun. But this fun hobby is potentially turning into a satisfying way of life, and I suspect it would be very dumb to not pursue it with the greatest of intent.
And this is the cusp between inaction and action that we all find ourselves. The dream is there, but the dream requires discipline and pain of unknown duration and scope. It’s easier to focus on the right-now and squeak by with lesser life pleasures…but I’m going to say that I want the pain now because that comes with the territory of achieving awesomeness. You can’t do it otherwise.
So now that this point of contention is out of the way, I have to deal with the cloud of confusion: Where do I start? What do I do?
While I know that starting anywhere is a fine course of action in almost any task of unknown complexity–the act of floundering around tends to clarify what works pretty quickly–I am really one of those people who wants a map of where I’m going. I need to get a sense if I’m moving forward or backwards, and relative to what. I’ve written quite a bit about it on this blog actually, but The Master Plan isn’t something I can hold in my head all at once…
That tells me that I need to make a visual master plan, combining all the threads into one cohesive whole. I’ll map that out over the next couple of days and see where I end up.