Figuring "It" Out As You Go

Just get started.

Originally Published in the Post-Grad Survival Guide

Photo by  Ben White

Photo by Ben White

I started a content platform without the slightest clue as to what I wanted to do with it. I simply desired a medium for self-expression, exploration, and the possibility to connect with inspiring people with whom I could co-create something.

I had little by way of direction or clarity and so, despite having had the desire to pursue something like this for a long time, I kept putting it off.

A lot of my hesitancy came from my experience as a technically minded marketing major at University; I operated under the belief that I needed some grand and concrete vision, mission statement, and knowledge of things like my target audience to justify such a creation.

Along with fleeting desires for monetization and reverence, the pressure I put on myself made getting started really unappealing, and the fear of “failing” outweighed my optimism and desire to share with the world.

This was just one manifestation of our common hesitancy to figure things out as we go, something that can be a gratifying, illuminating, and necessary process.

Doing something, without any focused intention or direction is often just what we may be calling for. And many of the things we think “need” to precede an undertaking are just excuses.

The act of doing can unsurprisingly help us figure out what we want to do.

A Google search for starting a business, website, or blog, can often lead us to believe we need absolute clarity around things like our offering, long term plan, and what niche we may want to occupy. Before we even get started.

Thats enough to make anyone freeze. While these are certainly worthwhile considerations, they can be tremendously restricting.

Planning can so often be our excuse to put off the work that we want to be doing.

In the past year, I’ve pivoted the type of content that I create more times than I can count. And I have no doubt that I will continue to do so (although I hope less frequently…). But I’ve also learned a hell of a lot, both about myself and the type of work that I‘ve done.

What’s Your “Why”?

Photo by  Ken Treloar

Photo by Ken Treloar

This question was, for me, the only one I really needed to answer before jumping in.

I found joy in creating, in bringing my experiences and insights to the world with the hope of improving the lives of whoever engaged with my content. Eventually, that answer was enough.

Harness your curiosity and excitement to do something. Relish the fear of not knowing where it will go. Sometimes jumping in headfirst is the best thing we can do.

What is Your “Why Not”?

This is the question that many of us tend to focus on: all the reasons we shouldn’t do something.

Working under the impression that I needed to know exactly what I was doing led me to struggle with ideas around certainty, and I lost belief in the breadth of my creative desires that had most excited me in the first place.

I still lack clarity around the direction I want to go. But I’m a hell of a lot more confident and content than I was before I started.

Again, actively doing is another thing entirely than spending time planning, writing outlines, and speaking about all the wonderful ideas that I could make real.

“Without action and accountability, your big dreams remain just words on a page”.

Don’t get me wrong, prep is important.

But having something that is out there, no matter how imperfect, will help you grow. So it’s important that we give ourselves permission to have no idea what we’re doing.

You Don’t Need a Niche

I’m interested in so many things: travel, health, writing, fitness, alternative medicine, spirituality, business…you name it. So despite receiving advice, from people I respect and admire, to focus on one thing, I’ve stuck to some degree of vagueness.

While this perhaps comes at the cost of developing a consistent and predictable audience, the tradeoffs are well worth it for me: I can dabble, and figure it out later.

I’ve always struggled to come to terms with the idea that I should specialize, focusing on one career or path.

And while there is merit to devoting oneself to developing a particular skill or trade, I’m simply not ready to take that deep dive yet. However, this work has really helped in narrowing down the stunningly large pool of things that that might be.

I create things that are meaningful to me. What’s meaningful changes a lot. But the fact that I enjoy the work I’m doing, even though my audience is small and I don’t make of money, gives me confidence that this is a worthwhile endeavor.

Figuring “It” Out

Photo by  Caleb Jones

Photo by Caleb Jones

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Beyond being, like most other people my age, immensely confused about this whole “life” thing, I essentially wanted to stop doing nothing. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Taking action, no matter how undirected, can’t really hurt.

After all, what does “figuring ‘it’ out” even mean? Life? Purpose? Meaning? There is never going to be a concrete or entirely satisfying answer to the question, and thats half the point.

The value lies in our experiences, not our outcomes.

I hope this piece was helpful to you. If it was, please share it with others whom you think could benefit, and check out some of the other things that I’m up to.

If it wasn’t, let me know why!

Thanks for reading : )