Over the past couple of months, I’ve been feeling ready to start a side project again. My mind is an idea machine. It loves to come up with great ideas and get me excited about them. But there is a big difference between having an idea and actually doing something about with it.
Even though I’ve had ideas that I wanted to build over the past year, I couldn’t get myself to actually work on one. I felt handicapped, mostly by the burnout I was experiencing.
Now that I’m ready to start building again, I’ve faced another challenge that I often experience during times of creation. Analysis paralysis combined with shiny object syndrome. I’ve got a solid 5+ ideas that I can work on right now. Each idea has it’s strengths and weaknesses. So how do I choose which idea to work on?
What generally tends to happen with me is that I’ll pick the idea that I feel most strongly about. I’ll then start working on the idea and inevitably I will start running in to some sort of a challenge, as is normal when starting out on a new project/business. The problem is that my thinking then starts to shift to how great the other ideas are and what I am missing out on. At this point I even start coming up with new ideas that are good.
A strong sense of regret sets in. I also over analyse and create this perfect picture of how my life should be played out and try to align the project/work that I am on to this magical path. As you can imagine, these magical paths never align to reality.
All this ends up in a rather frustrating loop/cycle. Switching between ideas and projects. I get demotivated and the end result is that nothing meaningful gets done and my project doesn’t get launched. This has happened more times than I can count.
The most recent example of this cycle happening was with the current project that I am working on, Salespack. I was struggling with deciding how to build the UI. Should it be React like a lot of modern WordPress development or standard PHP server based templates? This lead to me questioning whether I wanted to work on a WordPress project at all, and maybe I should instead be working on a SAAS app. I even went as far as identifying another great SAAS idea that I could work on. I also considered just focusing in my wildlife photography for now and building a business around that.
I fortunately quite quickly identified what was happening with my thinking. But identifying the problem was not enough, in a situation like this, you need to counter the argument that you should be working on something else. Or at least, come up with a new thought pattern to override and be at peace with the decision of continuing to work on the project you’ve committed to.
The thought pattern for me in this specific case, which I found to be rather powerful and helpful, was thinking about my work and projects as Seasonal.
My current season is Salespack. It’s a WordPress/WooCommerce plugin and I’m happy with being committed to that. Why? Because this product, at this point in time and based on the past 7 years contracting at a WordPress agency, is where I can offer my best work. All of my experience in WordPress and Php development, marketing, SEO, sales, running another plugin business, etc has led to this point. I am uniquely positioned for it.
Putting that perspective in to my head helps me stop thinking about other ideas because there will be a time and a place for those ideas. They should be written down and shelved, for now. It also makes me more comfortable with committing to develop for WordPress at this point. There will be seasons for other languages and frameworks in the future.
How long will this season last? I don’t know and that’s not something I can control or should think about. But when it does end, the next idea will be knocking – that I can sure of. Right now I can and will only focus on what’s in front of me – on what is happening in this current season.