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Dangerous Ideas: Getting Started is Overrated

June 27th, 2008 · 67 comments

The (Dangerous) Art of the StartThinking Man

Attend any talk given by an entrepreneur and you’ll hear some variation of the following:

The most important thing you can do is to get started!

This advice has percolated from its origin in business self-help to the wider productivity blogging community. You’ve heard it before: Do you want to become a writer? Start writing! Do you want to become fit? Join a gym today! Do you want to become a big-time blogger? Start posting ASAP! If you don’t start, you’re weak! You’re afraid of success!

Here’s the problem: I completely disagree with this common advice. I think an instinct for getting started cripples your chance at long-term success. And I suggest that, on the contrary, you should develop rigorous thresholds that any pursuit must overcome before it can induce action.

Allow me to explain why…

The Origin of the Cult of the Start

If you talk to an accomplished speaker, especially one with a focus on entrepreneurship, he’ll tell you his “get started” message is crucial. Indeed, one of the biggest frustrations faced by speakers in this circuit is how often they meet young people who are psyched to start a business, but then allow, over time, for their enthusiasm to fade without ever taking action.

These speakers counter this effect by drilling the importance of starting. “Do anything!”, they yell. “Send one e-mail, check out one book, register one domain name!” The theory is that even the smallest action can overcome some mythical initial resistance, and help build an inescapable momentum toward business nirvana.

But is getting started right away always the best option?

Survivor Bias

In his convention-busting book, Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Taleb preaches the danger of survivor bias — a common fallacy in which we emulate people who succeeded without considering those who used similar techniques but failed. Taleb uses the example of The Millionaire Next Door, a popular finance guide in which the authors interviewed a large group of millionaires. As Taleb points out, the habits of these millionaires — accumulating wealth through spartan living and aggressive investments — should not be emulated unless one can determine how many more people followed a similar strategy but failed to hit it big.

Perhaps a more poignant example would be to find and interview the 10 people in the country who had the biggest and fastest overall increase to their finances in the last year. Guess who would dominate this list? Lottery winners. Ignoring the survivor bias, one could conclude: the people who get richest fastest all invested heavily in lottery tickets, so that’s what I should do too!

The same, of course, can be applied to an entrepreneur, or anyone, really, who had success in a glamorous pursuit. To the winner, their path seems straightforward. It was just a matter of putting in the time and the results followed. To someone in this position, it can be incredibly frustrating to watch people denying themselves similar success simply because they’re afraid to get started.

But the survivor bias lurks…

For every successful entrepreneur, or writer, or blogger, or actor, there are dozens of others who did get started but then flamed out. Some people lack the right talents. For many more, the pursuit, once past that initial stage of generic, heady enthusiasm, simply lost its attraction and their interest waned.

The Saturation Method

I have observed many people who have had long-term success in an impressive pursuit. I have also observed many people who went after such successes yet failed. I hope by combining both outcomes — success and failure — I can identify a predictor of the former that will remain free of the taint of survivor bias.

In short, I’ve noticed that people who succeed in an impressive pursuit are those who:

  • Established, over time, a deep emotional conviction that they want to follow that pursuit.
  • Have built an exhaustive understanding of the relevant world, why some succeed and others don’t, and exactly what type of action is required.

This takes time. Often it requires a long period of saturation, in which the person returns again and again to the world, meeting people and reading about it and trying little experiments to get a feel for its reality. This period will be at least a month. It might last years.

Steve Martin’s Diligence

Steve Martin noted that the key to becoming really good at something (so good that they can’t ignore you), is diligence, which he defines as effort over time to the exclusion of other pursuits. This is why people who ultimately succeed in a pursuit go through such a long period of vetting before they begin — if you’re not 100% convinced and ready to tackle something, potentially for years, to the exclusions of the hundreds of interesting new ideas that will pop up along the way, you’ll probably fizzle out well before reaping any reward.

The Art of Not Starting

This reality brings me back to my original point: try not to get started. If you translate every burst of enthusiasm into action, you’re going to waste time. More dangerous, you’re going to hobble your chances of succeeding in any pursuit, as the constant influx of new activity prevents you from achieving a Steve Martin-style diligence.

My advice: resist starting. Spend lots of time learning about different pursuits, but put off action until an idea begins to haunt your daydreams and refuses to be dislodged from your aspirational psyche. Then, and only then, should you reluctantly take that first step, one of what’s sure to be many, many more before you get to where you want.

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67 thoughts on “Dangerous Ideas: Getting Started is Overrated

  1. Cal, I agree with this advice, but only when targetted at bigger projects and (as you mention) entrepreneurial ideas. For small and niggly projects that are being put off for no good reason, I would stick with the advice to ‘just get started’.

    I think Steve Martin is spot on that the effort must be “to the exclusion of other persuits”. Tiger Woods is another obvious person who exercises this diligence. But I notice that this is probably the most difficult aspect for many to get right. In fact, I recently had to remind myself (on a personal matter) just how crucial diligence is.

    One other point. To resist starting is a good idea, so long as you don’t fall into the trap of never starting because you don’t think you’re ready to take the plunge. Again, this is an issue I see repeated amongst many.

    Your post highlights such most important advice…I sense there’s a lot more to be said around this post.

  2. Study Hacks says:

    Your post highlights such most important advice…I sense there’s a lot more to be said around this post.

    Indeed. I’m struggling to come to grips with all the related issues. For example, I do a lot of writing — both academic and commercial — that requires an original idea expressed well. Something I’ve noticed is that I can’t start these projects right away. I have to let them keep stirring in my mind while doing sporadic research. Eventually, however, some mental switch flips and I suddenly feel driven to push them to completion. On the outside, it seems like procrastination. I let days go by with very little work even when I have a lot to do. On the inside, I’ve learned to trust my instincts.

    The problem, I guess, is how can one possibly clearly delineate between waiting for the mental cogs to click into synchrony and just putting something off until it never gets done? Really interesting, tough stuff…

  3. Scott Young says:

    Cal,

    I’m going to have a friendly disagreement with you, for two reasons:

    1) A lot of experience comes from taking action. While you can learn something about a field by sitting on the sidelines, you won’t truly know about it until you dive right in.

    2) Many pursuits have relatively few downsides. Starting a blog is free. If your blog fails after 6 months, then you’ve just wasted 6 months. There is no capital involved or employees to fire. I’d rather waste 6 months trying to make it as a blogger than waste 6 months researching blogging where I will learn less and have a 0% chance of success.

    Where I do agree with you is in the domain of real risks. Areas where you are committing exorbitant amounts of time or money to a pursuit. In those cases, resisting the initial spur to get started and doing more careful research might be beneficial.

    Cheers,
    -Scott

  4. Study Hacks says:

    Scott, I enjoy your take. I think an important distinction for this discussion is the ultimate goal of action. I guess I should clarify that I’m addressing those interested in building what I’ll call “superstar skill,” that is an expertise that has reached a level where rewards become disproportionately large.

    With this caveat in mind, I would address your points as follows…

    A lot of experience comes from taking action.

    Superstar skill requires expertise which requires consistent, diligent action over time. Too much “experience” gathering on multiple fronts prevent expertise in any one area.

    On the other hand, I think we agree in that I too support the idea of small experiments as a smart way to test whether or not to commit to a pursuit. Perhaps starting a small blog could be considered a lightweight experiment.

    Many pursuits have relatively few downsides.

    We chronically undervalue attention and time. If one is interested in building a superstar skill, any extra pursuit that eats up time and attention does have a big downside.

    In essence, the attitude I’m combating is one in which every twinge of momentary enthusiasm is translated into action that consumes a non-trivial amount of time and attention.

  5. nelsonway says:

    Interesting topic…good discussions.
    It reminds me of when the news reporter ask the 100 year old person what their ‘secret’ is.
    —-
    A sucessful person with key insights can be very helpful, but perhaps the study of failure is undervalued. 1. People don’t like to advertise personal failures 2.Failure is seen as a character flaw, bad luck, etc.

    If you can identify a goal and then find a number of different reasons others have failed …maybe you can devise possible strategies for yourself.

    Examples: Ran out of money, didn’t know the laws or regulations, underestimated the amount of time, missed an important deadline, tackled something too difficult too early on.

  6. Jordan says:

    Excellent! It can’t haunt your daydreams for a week. When the world is a dull distraction to that daydream that is when you should jump on it.

  7. Gary says:

    Great counter-cultural advice. I am thoroughly impressed by the wisdom I have been receiving from this blog. It is one of a handful that I will continue reading as there is a message that I must embody – let go of the pick-up and drop activities that are wasting time and energy.

  8. Grad Hacker says:

    …but starting is often the best form of research, and how do you develop a passion without starting something?

    For example:

    – researching fitness will not develop your passion for exercise or sports, but starting will.

    – researching “making it as a writer” will probably just scare you to death, but outlining your ideas could inspire you.

    – researching going to grad school could lead you to a lot of jaded grad students (“productive”, busy folks) but going will get you your advanced degree, or at least teach experientially what you like or don’t like.

    Experience, IMO, is just too invaluable.

  9. Stella says:

    Great post! Having worked for a large multinational travel agency that forced the Culture of Start down my throat for many years, I have become very skeptical of the Richard Branson type of entrepreneur. Over the years, I have had many business and investment ideas that I’m so glad I never got around to!

  10. Scott Young says:

    Cal,

    I think I see your distinction a bit better. I would agree that endless starting is not a good idea. Starting without some level of commitment is a waste of time. Indeed, spreading yourself over many areas without any commitment is a recipe to waste years of your life.

    My comment was more to the point that taking a lot of action (and not waiting until conditions are perfect) is a good idea. Obviously, if you can’t follow that urge to start with the discipline to finish, you’re in trouble.

    -Scott

  11. Daisy says:

    I agree about endless starting! That’s been getting me into trouble lately.

    I should learn how to pick and choose what I start with.

    Though I think that yes, sometimes just starting is the key when you just happen to be procrastinating.

    Dangerous idea indeed.

  12. JP Adams says:

    Cal & Scott. I feel that you both make valid points in the comments but are speaking to different segments of the population.

    Cal. As you mentioned, your counsel is for those looking to build a superstar skill in something. This resonates most with people who concretely understand just how good they can be. These people are familiar with serious study, application and measurement of outcomes. Natural innovators if you will. These people are ready to place bets wisely and follow through with disciplined execution.

    Scott. You’re counsel applies to a broader base of the population. This segment is stuck in tactics and doesn’t really believe that they can do something incredible. Usually they work in large companies or lethagric environments and are sheltered from progressive thought and creativitiy. These people need to move from discussing ideas to acting upon them.

    In my experience I have found more people fit into Scott’s segment. Not enough people believe they can even try. They find themselves in the world of constantly offering opinions but never really doing anything.

  13. Study Hacks says:

    …but starting is often the best form of research, and how do you develop a passion without starting something? For example…
    researching “making it as a writer” will probably just scare you to death, but outlining your ideas could inspire you.

    To me, writing is the quintessential longterm pursuit. Outlining ideas is fine, but I don’t think it’s going to tell you much. Writers I know were saturated in the world at a young age. They were readers out of the womb. They could spit out arcane details about famous author’s first book deals. They know the names of big-time editors. They love Booknotes on CSPAN2. In some sense, if, after such saturation, you still find yourself in love with the idea of being a writer, then you can dig in and prepare for the long slog. An outline of ideas in place of this saturation is not going to provide much.

    researching going to grad school could lead you to a lot of jaded grad students (”productive”, busy folks) but going will get you your advanced degree, or at least teach experientially what you like or don’t like.

    Oh no! Going to grad school to see if you like going to grad school is the type of thinking that single-handedly keeps the student loan industry in business! :)

    Let me give my path as an example: I grew up steeped in a culture that admired academics, and I had, from an early age, a real good sense of what it meant to be a professor. By the time I applied to grad school, I knew many professors, I had talked, frequently, about what different departments were like, who hired who, what feuds were being fought where — in short, was saturated in the world and knew that’s something I wanted to commit to.

  14. Study Hacks says:

    My comment was more to the point that taking a lot of action (and not waiting until conditions are perfect) is a good idea. Obviously, if you can’t follow that urge to start with the discipline to finish, you’re in trouble.

    Agreed. Something I’ve noticed, however, is that gain a good deep understanding of a world (i.e., the saturation period I talk about) seems to mitigate the common procrastinatory habit of waiting for the perfect conditions to start. That is, in some people, such delay is a symptom of a bigger picture unease about the path, and how to proceed, and whether they really want to follow it.

  15. Study Hacks says:

    Though I think that yes, sometimes just starting is the key when you just happen to be procrastinating.

    Indeed. I should probably make it clear that I’m not excusing procrastination on small things like papers or taxes. It’s more the big picture, grand pursuits where I worry about over-starting.

  16. Study Hacks says:

    Cal…your counsel is for those looking to build a superstar skill in something…These people are ready to place bets wisely and follow through with disciplined execution.

    Scott. You’re counsel applies to a broader base of the population. This segment is stuck in tactics and doesn’t really believe that they can do something incredible.

    An interesting analysis. I’m not sure, however, if Scott’s advice is really aimed at people who “don’t believe that they can do something incredible.” I think the real split is just differing thoughts on what it means or takes to do something incredible.

    I think your distinction about a tactical-level focus is apt. This is, in some sense, an idea I’m trying to counter. If you want rewards disproportionate to time spent, you have to develop a scarce skill. This requires longterm focus. It’s not very sexy. I think it’s more exciting for people to hear something more short-term, and less dependent on specific talent, but in the end, the Steve Martin Method works!

  17. JP Adams says:

    Thanks for your Response Cal.

    You describe long-term focus to drive distinct and disproportionate gains. This is helpful and a calculated approach can be warranted.

    If you look at history however, success is frequently more illusive than our rational minds might hope for. While tackling specific projects (or building differentiating capabilities) the end result of our efforts can be difficult to project. ‘Pushing the ball down the hill’ or aggressively trying to tackle new things frequently lead to opportunities we had not expected.

    The primary driver behind unexpected succcess is that so many market factors (e.g., the economy, family member health, your CEO’s ethics, meeting the right person in Starbucks) are beyond our own control. Build an ethic of discipline and being ready for those unexpected challenges or opportunities when they come.

    Marc Andressen wrote about this topic on his blog last year. The article is entitled “Age and the entrepreneur”. Find it here: http://tinyurl.com/25ropj. One of the insights from his study was that frequency of attempt had a strong correlation with overall success.

    For example Beethoven’s highest quality material was produced at the same time as his lower quality material. Marc says: “…the periods of Beethoven’s career that had the most hits also had the most misses – works that you never hear.”

  18. Study Hacks says:

    If you look at history however, success is frequently more illusive than our rational minds might hope for.

    These are all great points. I think, however, that randomness, and experimentation, and many different attempts, are all things that should happen within a single pursuit. Once you choose, for example, to become a writer, you’re right to note that there is no single pre-planned path that will take you to success. You have to try lots of different things and meet lots of different people and, above all, learn. But this is different than attempting unrelated pursuits after you choose to be a writer.

    Your examples fit well in this framework. Marc Andressen is talking about how to become a successful entrepreneur once you’ve chosen to focus on an being an entrepreneur. Beethoven made lots of different attempts at writing music after he long since decided to focus on being a musician. Indeed, these personalities are the exact exemplar of what I preach: who, if not Beethoven, captures better the idea of focusing on one thing until you become excellent. Etc.

  19. JP Adams says:

    I like very much how you frame experimental learning within a specific pursuit. Solid framework. Within a chosen field learning can ensue through all three lenses: failure, success, and randomness.

    Thanks for the discussion!

  20. Grad Hacker says:

    Okay, I think this was an important discussion. I feel like perhaps your argument here is really stating the importance of being obsessed with finishing, an idea I wholeheartedly agree with. That seems to be the Steve Martin method as well and you are arguing that you should only start things that you are willing, and confident that you can, finish.

    I can only speak for myself, but at least my resistance to this dangerous idea was due to my experience with a folks that just sit around waffling on everything and thus don’t do anything except complain about the status quo. Or, my own many experiences of realizing how much easier something was after starting than I thought it would be (this seems to happen ridiculously often).

    Perhaps a common ground would be: Don’t be afraid to start, but be damn ready to finish.

  21. Study Hacks says:

    At least my resistance to this dangerous idea was due to my experience with a folks that just sit around waffling on everything and thus don’t do anything except complain about the status quo.

    I feel that resistance too, and think you’re right. For people who are looking to avoid any action, this philosophy is probably just going to make things worse! But on the other hand, maybe nothing is going to get them going…

  22. steve e says:

    Very interesting reading and great to see constructive comments rather than the usual tripe.
    Thank you everyone, not just the poster!
    I think starting or not starting depends entirely on the project you have in mind. If it’s starting up a website then just do it, you can learn as you do it and then advertise it once it’s to your own satisfaction or starts to get a regular readership. The earlier you start, the smaller the market, there are only ever going to be more sites as time goes on.

  23. Cal is wrong says:

    Cal will fail at 100% of the opportunities he never tries. He will not finish anything if he doesn’t start anything.

    Cal has a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science…this does not qualify him to dish out advice on this.

  24. Study Hacks says:

    Cal will fail at 100% of the opportunities he never tries. He will not finish anything if he doesn’t start anything.

    I’m always fascinated by how defensive people get about this topic. I think the idea that commitment and persistence is crucial for living an interesting life can be scary, as it puts the ball in your court. It’s much easier to believe that having the right attitude is the key — try lots of things, resist conformity, and the world will fall in your lap! — but I find that somewhat naive.

  25. Mark R says:

    ime theory is a byproduct of action. Consideration/Planning/Scenario Building/Research will always be far less effective at testing the viability of an idea, and take far more energy, than subjecting an idea to public opinion. The problem with theory is that the person is safe from the pain of rejection. The sooner a person can subject an idea to the danger of rejection and judgment from the public, the sooner they can begin to think pragmatically and reasonably about the endeavor rather than emotionally. Ready, fire, aim is an attempt to remove fear from the equation, or at least address it as soon as possible to minimze its affect on the creative/developmental process as the project or idea develops.

    If someone wants to be a writer, the best use of their time is to write something and post it as soon as possible. They stand to find out much sooner whether they are meant for that practice, and whether they want to pursue that discipline, than someone who weighs the pros and cons of what it would mean to be a writer.

    I’m a professional musician fwiw and have been for 10 years, been a musician for 20. Believe me I’ve wanted to quit music more times than I could count, it has been a challenge to say the least. And along the way I have toyed with and tried out 1000 other wildly varying avenues of expression/ideas/projects within the realm of music. The ideas that stick, stick. The ideas that don’t, don’t. The only thing consistent in my experience is I have no idea which way they’ll go until I’ve brought them to market somehow. That is an absolute measure, doesn’t matter if you get there in 2 minutes or 20 years, you still do the same soul searching and ask the same question, which is “do I want to stick with this for the long run?’ Its only after going to market that you can really ask yourself that question without risking delusional fantasy. “Ready, fire, aim” says get to that spot as soon as possible.

    I’ve never seen anyone who follows “Ready, fire, aim” get lost in endless ideas/products brought to market – sooner than later one sticks and they run with it. All the truly successful/famous musicians I know are so fast to implement and publically test an idea it would make your head spin, it does mine, literally blows my mind. But I can’t even count the people I’ve known who consider deeply before acting who are stuck in an indecisive quagmire of fear and paralysis. The longer they wait, the more importance they give to some product or idea, until its valued so highly they are terrified to expose it. Most I know never even manage to bring it market, they are stuck in a hell of fantasy.

    This being said this is only my experience in the arts, and there is a time and place for everything. And its always important to have someone standing up for the counter-intuituve argument as it initiates dialog and revaluations, so thank you for writing this post.

  26. Mark R says:

    edit – should have said “conventional” not “counter-intuitive”, and “conventional” referring to it being so in certain circles, as the post addressed

  27. Mark R says:

    edit edit – “UNconventional” rather, rassuming conventional being “ready fire aim”

  28. Curt says:

    Cal is right on the money with this post.

    There’s usually 2 major reasons why we don’t START.

    1. Lack of Clarity or Vision for your Life
    2. Resistance and Fear

    If a person is procrastinating because of Lack of Clarity or Vision, I believe, YES, they should take the time to figure out what they want. Otherwise you could make wrong decisions that otherwise could have been avoided with just a little planning and thought. Questions are the answers. If it doesn’t pass your life test, don’t do it.

    If on the other hand you know what you want to do and are at least 90% sure about it and you can see yourself liking and being successful at what you choose, the best way to get rid of fear or resistance is by taking action, no doubt. Everything never goes right even after you’ve made this decision, so that’s why the frequency of attempts is so important to success.

    In relation to this frequency of attempts is Threshold. When everyone starts their long term project at what they want to be successful at most times everyone isn’t willing to go past this threshold. Which is what would happen if they had more “frequency of attempts”.

    The threshold thing has happened to me many times and I said, OK that’s it that’s enough! If the project, goal or business is important, learning how to get pass the threshold is important to finishing.

    A good book on this is Thresholds of the Mind by Bill Harris creator of Centerpointe.

  29. I-Tulip says:

    Well. I think Cal is on a very good track discussing this. I am right now in this proces of not yet getting started, but getting more and more convinced I will. Sometimes however, I doubt myself: am I avoiding the REAL action too much? I am structuring all thoughts and reading books about productdevelopment and (internet)marketing etcetera. In that case I have done a lot the past months. But a little monster: yes, there it is, creeps in all the time: Get started! So doubt creeps in again, when my system tells me to go on researching first. So I’m very happy with the discussion here. It even gives me confidence and the sense I’m not alone in this! The amount of information, sites, books and so on, is overwhelming now and then. It’s an art to be able to sometimes get back on track! So focus on your path. Rearange your planning now and then. Improve things that way. Slowly you will get more convinced (or not and leave the idea). Then you will be ready to really set up and follow through. Thanks for the input! I will stay tuned here.

  30. Study Hacks says:

    Consideration/Planning/Scenario Building/Research will always be far less effective at testing the viability of an idea, and take far more energy, than subjecting an idea to public opinion.

    I think it’s possible that we more or less agree — the crucial point being what it means to test the viability of an idea. Imagine, for example, you want to write a novel. We probably both agree that forever sitting back and thinking about writing a novel is not that useful. But what “testing” is optimal here? I would argue that diving into writing the novel is not the smart thing to do; it would be much smarter to actually take a novelist out to lunch, or talk with an agent, and get a sense of the process, training, etc, required to make a go at it.

    1. Lack of Clarity or Vision for your Life
    2. Resistance and Fear

    This is a good way of putting it. My instinct is that (2), in isolation, is actually rare. That much of the resistance people feels is a reasonable by-product of (1).

    I am structuring all thoughts and reading books about productdevelopment and (internet)marketing etcetera. In that case I have done a lot the past months. But a little monster: yes, there it is, creeps in all the time: Get started! So doubt creeps in again, when my system tells me to go on researching first.

    It’s possible that the creeping doubt is speaking to an underlying truth that you’re trying to avoid: there might be better investments of your time than all these semi-scammy internet product marketing schemes. (If producing a muse is your goal, consider checking out Ramit Sethi or the Art of Non-Conformity, as they both have done extensive writing on the reality of creating side sources of income built on real skills, not some pyramid scheme of drop shipping and out sourcing.

  31. I-Tulip says:

    I know what I should do first. Create a valuable ‘product’. But I’m new to starting a business. So I try to get the bigger picture of that first and ‘procrastinate’ creating a product… I admit that I’m more of a thinker than a doer. But I’m convinced of my strong ideas about some needs, problems and frustrations I and others have. I’m convinced I will find my ‘niche’ and get started. But I want to finish too! And that’s why I admire these blog initiatives. Because I admit: I’m procrastinating a bit… And your stories and opinions are very helpful. thanks. Maybe one of my strong future products will be on this issue: ‘How to get passed being stuck’ a: getting started or b: finding a succesful product (tested before investing)… Again, thanks for sharing this!

  32. I-Tulip says:

    I wrote: ‘But I’m convinced of my strong ideas about some needs, problems and frustrations I and others have’

    Of course I intend to invent solutions to these needs etcetera, which will be very valuable to people…

  33. Cal,

    I know I’m a bit late to this post, but it is a very interesting point of view. Personally, I think you have misunderstood the advice of “getting started”. This type of advice is not geared to someone like yourself who clearly has no problem being a self-starter. The advice is for people who dream of being an entrepreneur but have not taken any action to achieve it.

    I have a more detailed post on the matter at my blog.

  34. robin benson says:

    So behind many questions/issues like this are larger things going on. What? People are stuck in jobs doing things that are making them miserable. Why? People choose to do this FOR A REASON. Why? I don’t know – ask them. But I can clearly see that if people wait until they become obsessed with something before kicking the habit of wasting their life away doing something mundane just for the money – which supposedly makes them happy – then most people will never budge. By taking a risk, learning more, possibly failing, they grow, and enlarge their understanding not only of the subject/technology/market/whatever, but also THEMSELVES. So maybe they go on to do something else they enjoy more, or meet a lover, or go broke and discover what is really important in their lives (again, you’ll have to ask them what). So yes, don’t be too reckless, but then again, take risks (especially calculated ones), be unconventional, trust your gut instinct, and allow yourself to LEARN. This involves guts (well, you need guts to have a gut instinct for starters, right?!) and honesty. Back yourself, keep your eyes open, keep calm, and keep going. Enjoy the journey!

  35. Getting saturated... says:

    Cal, excellent article! I fully agree and relate, and am currently, well, let’s say getting saturated. I’d love to read a lot more on this, which seems like such a foreign concept to people… you should write a book on it.

  36. Shane says:

    I have a dastardly list of abandoned ideas, all of which (temporarily) threw me off course from the ones I was actually incredibly passionate about.

    If only I’d known about this advice then! Glad I know about it now :)

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