October 26, 2017

Committing to an idea

How to commit when you've had so many uncommitments
Alright this time I’m really gonna do it. 
I’m going to show up. Be consistent. Put in the effort. Invest the time.
This time I’m going to commit. 

How many times have you promised yourself the above? Had a new idea you rushed into make it a reality while promising yourself you’ll stick with it, despite having done zero planning?

We’ve all had ideas and urges like this. Perhaps you thought about starting new side project, digital or physical product, website, experiment…

When greeted with a new idea, we tend to promise ourselves that this time we’ll actually commit to doing the work. Yet too often we either fall out of habit, forget or decide to move on to something else. 

I’ve had hundreds of ideas. Some of them I’ve tried to launch and failed. Others I consciously decided to discard due to the quality of the idea, time or financial investment required.

Somehow, there’s been one idea I’ve committed to for the last two years (no it wasn’t my boyfriend, though that too). Design Life podcast has reached 100 episodes.

Consistently showing up for 100 podcast episodes is not a happy accident. Since the birth of the show my co-host Charli Marie and I have done our best to prepare for what’s ahead. While we didn’t plan in detail our first 100 episodes, we set ourselves up for the possibility that we might one day reach episode 100. Doing so meant we both knew that our commitments might last for years to come.

When we started the show I had no idea whether it would actually take off. Whether the podcast would run for two months or two years was anybody’s guess. Together, we made an equal commitment to show up every week and press record.

In order to give the show the best possible chance we spent months planning the launch. Both of us being recovering perfectionists, we wanted to launch with a bang but not let the tiny details hold us back from the green light.

It’s easy to let yourself get carried away and over-excited by a new idea. Chances are you’re fighting an urge to release your idea into the wild as soon as possible, without any thought for planning. You’re curious to know what the reaction will be. 

Will it be successful? Will people care? 

Foregoing the initial stages of planning and jumping into launch day is exhilarating, but you’re punishing yourself in the long run.

When you’re in it for the long haul, planning not only the launch but how you’re going to maintain it over time is crucial. While it’s tempting to go with the flow (and you should leave a little bit of wiggle room for that), doing your research and constructing a clear plan will help guide you in times of uncertainty.

Extensive planning and preparation doesn’t ensure a smooth sailing. There’s always going to be unexpected waves or bad weather. 

Being new to podcasting we had our assumptions, but not all the hurdles were clear. What should we do when we record a one hour episode, only to learn your microphone wasn’t plugged in properly? Do you accept the bad audio quality, or re-record?

Situations like this are why it’s important to plan ahead. If your goal is for the podcast to be of high quality, you’ll record again without question. However if you’re more focused on releasing a weekly episode regardless of quality, you’ll press publish anyway. 

Though we can try our best to avoid it, hurdles always arise. The better you prepare for them, the easier they’ll be to overcome.

The show was not successful from day one.

Results require consistent and repeated action over time. There’s no golden rule of time to invest that will guarantee success. While the show came out with a bang, our listens fluctuated over time. Sometimes they’d dip, other times they’d peak. 

How do you know whether it’s worth the time and effort if you’re not seeing consistently positive results?

I always ask myself why I’m doing this. Is your heart really in it? Who are you doing it for? What’s your goal? What steps are you taking daily to achieve it? Could you be putting in more effort? What mistakes have you made in the past? How can you learn from them to improve going forward? What could you test? Could you mix up the format?

If you’ve answered or tried all of these questions and are yet to see results, chances are you haven’t tried for long enough yet. 

There seems to be an expectation that if you’re not an overnight success, you’ll never achieve success at all. We’ve forgotten that time is an asset. 

Time provides you with space. Space to learn, grow, improve, strategise, fail, practice, ideate, iterate and so on. You can use time to your advantage to tweak things in your process and see if has any influence on the results.

I don’t know whether Design Life is THE thing for me. I’m almost certain it’s not going to last the rest of my life and confident that it’s not the most important thing. 

What does matter is that it’s A thing. 

It’s something I can cherish, pour love into, experiment and play with. It provides me with enough fulfilment that I enjoy investing my time and craft into it. That’s what makes it worth it for me.

Not everything you output needs to be of utmost importance. Sometimes play and freedom of expression are more valuable than importance. Practical purpose isn’t a pre requisite to having something of worth. 

Being consistent and continuously showing up will ultimately come down to your connection with the project and what it means to you. So, are you going to commit this time?

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