The non-extreme path toward success

Published by Lori Pickert on February 25, 2013 at 09:43 AM

This post is part of my series on PBH for Grown-ups — you can see all of the posts here.

As you may have noticed, this series focuses on letting go of the need for ideal conditions and working with what you have.

If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come. — C.S. Lewis

You need to stop waiting until you have more time and just use the time you have. You need to stop thinking you need a writing hut or a workshop or a sewing studio and just make the most of the environment you have. And so on.

There is no need to buy more organizational supplies, no need to get the right equipment or the right wardrobe, no need to research just a little more. There is only the need to start.

Right here. Right where you are right now. With whatever you have in your pockets. Begin now.

It is not necessary to worry about extreme productivity. You can focus on being productive at all.

Stop worrying about managing your day when you can’t manage ten minutes.

Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. — Susan Ertz

There is no need to cruise Pinterest looking for the twentieth bit of advice, inspirational quote, or perfectly staged deskscape. You know enough to get you through today. You probably know enough to get you through this year. The advice, the inspiration, the reams of extra research will still be there — they’ll always be there. You can stop gathering and start.

You don’t have to worry about comparing the many, many apps that will help you keep track of your to-do list and help you get things done. Get a piece of paper. You can use the back of an envelope. Write down the top three things you’d like to accomplish today. Now cross out #2 and #3. See that one at the top? Work on that for fifteen minutes.

We need to move away from endless planning and toward action. That can be a difficult transition. In our fantasy, it is all perfectly arranged. We have the right clothes, the right room, the right tools. We could spend hours, days, months, years thinking about it and getting it right in our minds — and it still wouldn’t be manifested in our lives.

This is just another version of you being your own worst enemy. Negative, defeatist self-talk, check. And now set up all the artificial hurdles for why you can’t begin — first you have to get the perfect planner, the perfect bins, then you have to set up your workspace, do your research, declutter, and so on and so on. You are just pushing yourself back further and further from actually beginning.

Real writers don’t read millions of books about writing and spend their free time talking to people on writing forums — they write.

Real artists don’t flip endlessly through Pinterest and fret over the materials they can’t afford to buy — they make art.

Whatever it is you want to do, you need to stop pacing back and forth on the diving board and just jump in the damn water. Getting wet is going to teach you a lot more than all the thinking you’re doing on dry land.

Every time you are tempted to move from the action square back onto the planning square, take a deep breath. We don’t need extreme anything. We don’t need to be extremely productive — we just need to produce something. We don’t need to be extremely organized — we just need to know where our work is. We don’t need to do extreme marketing — we just need to share our work with someone.

There is always going to be an extreme version and there is always going to be a dead simple version that you can get going today. Choose dead simple.

Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week. — George Bernard Shaw

27 comments

Comment by Teri on February 25, 2013 at 11:33 AM

You did it again! This is an amazing post!!! Because of this series you're doing I have started!!! Thank you!

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 25, 2013 at 03:41 PM

thank you, teri! :)

hearing that you have started is the best possible feedback i can get!

Comment by amy21 on February 25, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Lori, I have to wonder how much inspiration for this post came out of our emails the past few days?! Because you know I am planning to just start where I am...this week, in fact. I brought the first post with me to G's gym class so I could edit/rework some ideas while I was waiting (ahem, using the time I have).

I am disappointed you didn't quote Yoda in this post, though. "There is no try. Just do." (Or something. Close enough!!)

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 25, 2013 at 03:43 PM

i swear it was mostly written before this week. ;o)

i do think these issues are both eternal and commonplace — so many people write and email and comment that i must be peeking into their lives. but i learned all of this from living my own life, tripping over my own self-built obstacles, wrestling with my own negative self-talk. if there is one underlying message of this series it’s — baby, if *i* can do it, so can you!

i love yoda but i’m going to have to go against him on this one — i am FINE with trying, as long as we at least do SOMETHING! :)

Comment by sarah pj on February 25, 2013 at 01:09 PM

You've been watching me, haven't you? And this is so so true. I have adopted this method in the last few weeks and have been so much more productive than I could have imagined. Each step is a step forward so I can move to the next one. I don't have to take them all at once. Thanks, as usual!

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 25, 2013 at 03:44 PM

sarah, re: watching you, see my comment just above to amy! :D

I have adopted this method in the last few weeks and have been so much more productive than I could have imagined.

this is what i want to hear!

so glad you’re making progress! xoxoxo

Comment by Vanessa (HantsH... on February 25, 2013 at 02:28 PM

I think this post must've been directed straight at me! I am a 'serial planner' and spend ages agonising over the details. Points very well made. Yup, JFDI :-)

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 25, 2013 at 03:46 PM

the planning stage is like riding around in the airplane with your parachute on, delaying jumping out the door. eventually, the plane runs out of gas! ;o)

Comment by Teri on February 25, 2013 at 06:55 PM

Oh my gosh that is so funny the way you put that and it is SO TRUE!!!!

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 25, 2013 at 07:28 PM

i was pretty happy with that metaphor. ;o)

Comment by amanda {the hab... on February 25, 2013 at 02:47 PM

love this: "It is not necessary to worry about extreme productivity. You can focus on being productive at all."

the endless planning is something i call analysis paralysis. just quit thinking and do already!

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 25, 2013 at 03:47 PM

 

the planning hole is so deep, it must reach the hot molten core of the earth.

i think analysis paralysis is one part of it, but i also think there are the people who just get carried away playing pretend and arranging all the pieces and putting labels on the folders ... they’re not so much analyzing the what-if’s as just stalling getting started — because doing is so MESSY and planning is so neat and organized and spatter-free!

Comment by sylvia on February 25, 2013 at 04:37 PM

great post lori. yes, JUST DO IT!! i need to hear that. again and again.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 25, 2013 at 07:27 PM

 

i’ll probably say it again and again. ;o)

thanks, sylvia! xoxoxo

Comment by Rach on February 25, 2013 at 06:09 PM

I love this "There is no need to cruise Pinterest looking for the twentieth bit of advice, inspirational quote, or perfectly staged deskscape. You know enough to get you through today. You probably know enough to get you through this year. The advice, the inspiration, the reams of extra research will still be there — they’ll always be there. You can stop gathering and start."

This is important for me - making a start doesn't mean you have to stop anything. We can still research as we do, and the research will be so much more meaningful then too.

I've also started (combination of your blog and some other stuff I am reading/thinking), but your words really spur me on. Thank. What you are doing - your words and gathering together of other people's words - are so needed by so many people.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 25, 2013 at 07:30 PM

 

We can still research as we do, and the research will be so much more meaningful then too.

yes, this is *so true* — beautifully said. they really aren’t two separate stages (or they shouldn’t be) — it’s just that starting is essential.

I've also started (combination of your blog and some other stuff I am reading/thinking), but your words really spur me on. Thank. What you are doing - your words and gathering together of other people's words - are so needed by so many people.

thank you so much — that is wonderful to hear!

Comment by Renee @ FIMBY on February 25, 2013 at 09:21 PM

Oh... this is good. Goosebump good.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 26, 2013 at 08:55 AM

thank you, renee! xoxo

Comment by Phyllis on February 26, 2013 at 11:13 AM

I have given you a blog award...
http://homeschooljournal-bergblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/awards-from-sylvi...
Have a nice day!

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 26, 2013 at 02:30 PM

thank you, phyllis! :)

Comment by Halina on February 26, 2013 at 02:42 PM

Great Post Lori! I must admit though that I always need a good chunk of time to research, plan and prepare before I dare to jump. Just to get more comfortable. But when I finally take that plunge I always learn 100 times more about it than during my research phase.
The other good thing about just starting to do something is that it grows courage and confidence to try more. I used to think that I'm not a "doer" but just a dreamer. This has changed so much since I picked up knitting instead of only admiring pictures on Soulemama and Ravelry, or since I picked up the saw to make some simple toys, or since I ventured out into the world to write my own blog. It's funny - I just started doing things and proofing myself wrong. I am actually a "doer"! :) Love it!

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 26, 2013 at 03:42 PM

 

thank you, halina! 

when I finally take that plunge I always learn 100 times more about it than during my research phase

yes!

so glad you have found the doer inside of you. ;o)

Comment by treen on February 26, 2013 at 10:52 PM

I just recently found your blog and this series is just what I need to hear for myself, not for my kids (although I need to figure this out with them as well). This post in particular was a kick in the pants. Thanks!

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 27, 2013 at 07:22 AM

thank you! glad you found us. :)

Comment by Deirdre on March 8, 2013 at 01:26 PM

One of the best in an all-around excellent series, Lori. I finally got to read it because I kept coming to it when I felt I didn't have time for any "real work", and then I'd read those opening lines and realize I could get *something* done rather than read blogs in the few minutes I had.

Today I finally got to read the whole thing and love it. I don't have enough space to tape all my favorite Lori-lines to my work wall, but I wish I could.

Love this: "We don’t need to do extreme marketing — we just need to share our work with someone."

I struggle with marketing, but when you frame it as "sharing your work", then I don't have the same yuck-response nor the pressure to be doing more than I have time for right now.

I'm a planner---it's such a safe stage and takes place in my favorite space, my head. The best thing I got out of the book The Now Habit was to focus on starting, not finishing. Thanks for the reminder.

Comment by Amanda H on August 6, 2015 at 11:10 AM

I love this! I'm all fired up! Just did my 15 minutes of one of the things I want to be doing and it feels awesome. Bookmarked this page so I can read it each morning or at least when I'm falling back on the planning square or waiting for ideal conditions.

Comment by Lori Pickert on August 6, 2015 at 03:31 PM

wonderful! :)

Post new comment