Alignment & Wandering

Progress isn’t easy or comfortable. When there’s an idea in your head, and you want to get it out into the world, it’s easy to focus on the bits you haven’t finished. And it can haunt you.

With so many decisions to make, how do you prioritize? Maybe it’s choosing the next feature to add. Maybe it’s worrying about which project is likely to be the most lucrative. Maybe it’s worrying about whether something is even feasible. But there’s something to be said for throwing all of that to the wind and letting yourself go.

Too often, we want to feel confident before we take the first step. Sometimes that’s necessary, but other times, it’s that hesitation that’s the problem. If you have a vision of where you want to be in ten years, maybe spending six months experimenting and exploring for clarity isn’t a big loss. Seeing an idea through requires focus, but choosing where or how to focus requires play. It’s a side effect of trying new things and exploring–often aimlessly.

Sometimes it’s better to spend time without getting caught up in whether something is “worth it.” Bear in mind that at some point, switching gears and seeing something through to the end is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be that way every day.

Have an idea that sounds fun but isn’t necessarily lucrative? Spend an afternoon on it. Not sure if you could be excited about a specific project for the rest of your life? Don’t worry. Just start dabbling. Not every repository needs to turn into something that ships to the rest of the world at some point. Build and delete.

Give yourself a little permission to flit about from one side project to the next. Instead of debating whether an idea could work, just focus on whether it’s aligned with where you want to be going. Initially, that may mean slower progress, but the process of discovery makes it worth it.

There’s a time and a place for charging forward. We all have that ability at our disposal when we’re ready, but sometimes it’s handy to turn it off and drift in orbit around the idea or ideas that linger in our head or heart. Explore leads. Start things just to play. Stay in orbit with your long-term goals, but don’t beat yourself up for stopping to play with ideas that may not directly support that vision.

Alignment is enough. At some point we all need to zero-in and execute, but sometimes it’s useful to accept that as long as there’s alignment, not all exploratory play needs to lead directly to an end result.

And finally, remember to actually ship something from time-to-time. You don’t have to ship everything, and the things you ship don’t have to be huge or ambitious. At some point though, you still have to ship, and the effort to go that last mile making something ready to ship is an entirely different kind of effort.