Just do it.
Most commonly associated with Nike and sports, this saying is both popular and inspiring. Even so, most people don’t listen to it much. Personally, whenever I hear “just do it,” I immediately agree and think “Yeah, obviously?”
But is it really that obvious? Sometimes, it can be extremely hard to put a foot down and declare you’ll do something.
I’ve found this problem a lot in my own hobbies. I’ve always wanted to learn guitar, become an amazing artist and learn how to bake elegant cakes. There are so many things I’ve wanted to do at some point but didn’t. I always managed to convince myself out of it after a couple tries.
This isn’t a unique predicament. Thousands of people struggle with doing something new every single day. This is particularly brought up in the Netflix film Set It Up. At the time, I was watching it because I was in the mood for a cute rom com, but I ended up finding a bit of hidden wisdom.
In the film, Harper is an aspiring sports journalist who works as an assistant. Her whole issue is that she wants to write, but she’s too afraid to even try. She assumes anything she writes will be terrible and not worth her time.
Her perspective only changes when her roommate tells her to write a terrible draft; to stop caring about perfection and to focus on making something horrible.
While seemingly illogical, this bit of advice is extraordinarily useful. Harper found it useful, too, and it got her to finally finish a piece.
When it comes to attaining new hobbies, you can’t expect to start off perfect. Everyone wants to begin by creating extravagant, realistic-looking landscapes with only paint brushes, but it’s unreasonable to think you can on your first attempt. The sole reason I’ve never stuck with drawing is because everything I produced could never compare to the mind-blowing artistry I found on Instagram. I’d start drawing something and immediately trash it, thinking it was too horrid to continue working on.
If you never start something, you’ll never finish. Hobbies are like plants. You plant a seed in fertile soil. At first, the plants are tiny and weak, but as time passes and you take care of them, they can grow into something magnificent. But, if you stomp all over the budding plant, it’ll never grow, and you’ll never reach anything more.
Rather than stomping on plants, we all need to learn to fail. It’s drilled into our heads that we can’t – that we need to win, be perfect, and be better than all the others we compare ourselves to on the internet. This way of thinking is problematic because if everyone was perfect, nobody would be.
What should you do instead? Exactly what Becca, Harper’s roommate, from Set It Up says. If you’re really struggling to get something started, intentionally fail. Create the worst drawing you could possibly imagine. Write something imperfect and disgusting and seemingly unrecoverable.
As long as you have that first draft, you can edit and work out the small kinks until you have something you like. But if you never conceive that originally atrocious draft, you’ll never be able to get anything out of it.
For me, this has impacted me most as a writer. Years ago, I’d been writing stories but never had the guts to finish one. I’d start something that I was inspired by. A week or two later, I’d feel like it was failing. I’d give up on it. Then, I’d repeat the process in an infinite loop of starting from the beginning.
Back then, I couldn’t finish anything because I kept trashing it before I could get far enough.
Finally, I decided to try out a competition called National Novel Writing Month. It required you write a 50,000-word novel in a month. I was skeptic of my abilities but decided to try. I’d never finished a draft before, and I was determined to finally complete one.
The only way I got through it was by writing carelessly. I stopped focusing so much on making every sentence perfect. Instead, I wrote my heart out. It honestly wasn’t my best work. Today, I look back at that novel and cringe. Even so, I’d done it: I’d finished my first full draft. Since then, I’ve been able to write a couple more full drafts, each a lot better than the last. One of them, I transformed into a Wattpad novel that currently has over half a million views. I even decided to self-publish it on Amazon.
Essentially, I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if I hadn’t decided to go for it.
You’ll be eternally stuck if you never cross the starting line.
Fear of trying something new is normal. You’ve got to push through this fear and allow your work to suck. I’m sure if you asked any artist, they’d say the same. Nobody starts off creating intricately detailed drawings. Nobody starts off with a movie deal and billions of fans. You have to fail first to reach that point.
When you see “just do it,” think a little more into what it means. It’s more than just a sports saying. It can refer to anything in life. Stop sitting back afraid of the consequences. Stop focusing on every little flaw in your works.
Just do it.
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash