“All is in a man’s hands and he lets it slip from cowardice, that’s an axiom. It would be interesting to know what it is men are most afraid of. Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what they fear most…But I am talking too much. It’s because I chatter that I do nothing. Or perhaps it is that I chatter because I do nothing.”
Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky.
I’ve met so many creative people who tell me about their wonderful ideas for projects or for career moves: they know they are good but they don’t execute them. What is it that keeps them from moving forward? What is it about that job that we are sure we would be brilliant at but don’t go after? That film we don’t make, the book we don’t write, the business we don’t start? Is it, as Dostoevsky suggests, cowardice? We love to chatter of our ambitions and what we are about to start. What are we afraid of? It often seems that we would prefer to carry on with our low level of dissatisfaction than take a flyer on something we know to be good. Perhaps we are afraid of it not turning out the way we imagined – notice I don’t say “failing” – but I have written before about Edison and what he can teach us here.
I know, I know, you need to keep your job – the job you don’t love so much. The rent has to be paid. But when you sitting in your rent-paid house or apartment are you sitting there being vaguely unhappy, or worse?
Do not fear. Work at not fearing. Probably you do not actually have to make a choice between the status quo and whatever adventure is next. This is black-and-white thinking. If there is some job you are interested in or some project that is clearly worth doing – do you really have to throw everything up to get on the track? Almost certainly not. Once you have a vision or a sense of what it is you are going after – break down the little steps you have to take to get there. What is that first easy step? Is it some research? Is it an email to someone who can help you? Is it setting an hour aside to do a shitty first draft of a business plan? Almost certainly there is some small step that you can take to get on the road, and still not jeopardize the current situation that you..er..value so highly.
I know you have the ideas and can see the greener grass. Creative people always do. Stop chattering about it. Address the fear and take a small step to outflank it. Get going on it and give yourself something to look forward to.