Two weeks ago, I had a busy week. I decided to delay the weekly post to Friday (usually done Wednesday), so I could get more time to perfect it. Slowly, the pressure builds up like a pressure cooker used to speed up cooking. The post grows anxiously on my mind all week. The steam blows fiercely as I near the sharp whistle of the boiling point. *Hissssss* My stress levels were at their peak. *POP* The room is submerged, and there's hot water everywhere. After wiping off the sweat, I finally hit publish on Friday, taking much longer than usual. I ask myself, what just happened?
Last week, I had an even busier week and was going to be away for the second half of it. So my only option was to get the post done by Tuesday. The previous approach wasn't sustainable, so I had to try something else. I decided to just focus on the routine. Just an hour a day of writing, first thing in the morning, and then move on to something else. I worked on the post for a couple of days, and it was ready by Tuesday. I scheduled it for Thursday, and all was good. I didn't even feel it. Very interesting.
This week was relatively less busy. So I gave myself a challenge. Write two posts instead. I finished the first one on Tuesday, and the second is the one you are reading now. I used the same tactic. Focus on the routine rather than the end result. The pressure slowly steamed off into a cool mist of calm, blending into everyday life like magnificent ocean waves on a warm day at the beach. Before I could blink, I had two posts ready.
I've found for long-term projects, where I need to be creative for an extended time, the best approach is to just focus on the process. Anytime I get too attached to the end result, e.g., subscriber count, likes, sales, creating something groundbreaking, "what will people think?" The pressure explodes, and quality ends up going down overall. Versus when I just set a routine and do the best possible work while also improving, the results are usually much higher, and the pressure is much lower. This leads to much better quality overall and more value for others. Over time the results end up far surpassing those when I get obsessed with the results, and at the same time, I get to enjoy the process much more.
I try and remind myself— think long-term and focus on the process. Wisdom is the ability to follow your advice, they say. Sometimes I forget to do so, but that’s what the archives are for.
For more insight on how to be more process-oriented in life, check out Atomic Habits by James Clear. It's one of my favorite books and also on my list of top six books for entrepreneurs. I'll be rereading it soon myself.
You might be asking, why not just skip a week?
Well, if I want to actually ship something and keep the momentum going, the deadline does help. Otherwise, it's easy to be in a state of forever flow and not put anything out there. There might be occasional bouts of high pressure right before launch, but it also feels good to release it after the fact. Besides, this is how you get feedback on your work and improve.
Many famous creators set internal deadlines for themselves. Beeple, the artist, has been creating a piece of art everyday for the last 14 years now (Woof!). Seth Godin has been publishing a newsletter every day for years as well. Personally, for me, that gets a bit much as a consumer. While a daily habit is excellent for building the routine, I wouldn't want to ship something every day. It's about finding the right balance. This is why you might be wondering— where is the other post I mentioned for this week? Well, I wasn't sure if you'd want to receive more than one, so help me out:
Whichever one wins, I'll make it happen in the New Year. It's right around the corner, after all. It's not like it just sneaked up on us out of nowhere. Like it always does :)
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