Comfort Zones, Slacking and Brain Enemas

Comfort Zones, Slacking and Brain Enemas

I've been a slacker for a couple of weeks now. The money has been good, so I slowed down. Not here at my blog, but with other projects. It's a habit I know well and one that has sabotaged me a lot.

I ran into a place where I became comfortable. "Oh, this is nice. I can stop here a while."

The bills are getting paid. There is a little left for savings. We refinanced the house. And all the taxes for last year are going to be paid. I have been paying $300 a month for two years to the IRS. Nice to have that monkey off of my back.

Yesterday, half of the tree in our front yard fell down spreading shrapnel all over the grass. Another bill. And another reason to get off my ass and start working. And another reason we are getting a condo next time. This is my first house and first yard. For our second house, we can borrow a park.

But the comfort zone reason is only one. There is also the fact that I like doing this stuff. I'm curious and have way to many interests. Other people collect Pez dispensers. I collect ideas, throw them together, mix them around and see what comes out.

I know I can do this the way everyone else does. That would be boring. With a little more time, I can create something great. And then I start suffering from feature creep. I can do this. And this. And this will make it that much better.

Of course, nothing has been done up to this point. Only planning. I have planned sites whose notes spread from one legal pad to the second. I look at that and it stops me in my tracks.

The only way to fight that is to scale it down. What is the minimum amount of work I can do to get this idea doing something, instead of sitting on a pad? What is the shortest route to making money with this idea? How many one to four hour chunks of time is this going to take? What potential does this idea have compared to the others that are piling up?

Turn the base idea into reality and then move on to the details.

And I babysit. I wrote software to calculate the ROI of my affiliate sales because I check it so much. I figured it would free up some time. Instead of confronting the problem, I built something that made the time the problem robbed from me shorter.

Self control sucks. Looking at big massive ideas knowing that it would take me months to build or even months of working to pay someone to build for me is tempting. But the gamble is time against money.

Most of my short projects will give quick money for a short time or a slow trickle of money for a longer period. But the big ideas. The big ideas automate things. The big ideas are tiny snowballs rolling down a hill. It takes more time up front to free up more time in the end.

The self control comes in with sticking to the original plan. The three or four things I have going right now. Writing them down daily and not adding extras that just stress me out. Noting new ideas, knowing that they will come back around if they are worth it, and putting them out of my mind. Eventually enough of the small projects will give me a running start at a big one or enough money to pay someone to run for me.

And writing has helped a lot. It smoothes out wrinkles. It instantly exposes bad ideas for what they are and sometimes turn a so-so idea into a much better one. It's a brain detox. Bad ideas tend to come out first. Once they have had their say, they are done. And then I wait for the good ones to start whispering.

And thank you for being my sounding board.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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