You’re feeling stuck because you don’t know how to make your dreams a reality.
Even worse, you’re feeling paralyzed.
You’ve tried a few things here and there, but it never amounted to anything.
Now you don’t know what to do next, but you do know you want to do something awesome with your life.
You feel your gut sinking and find yourself thinking “This sucks, I’ve got nothing,”
Then you start doubting yourself and questioning if you’re even good enough to become like the other successful people who inspire you.
So without ever doing anything, you give up and leave your dreams be.
You proceed to sit on the couch and turn on Netflix telling yourself you’ll figure it out later.
You finish the movie and it was a really amazing story so you get inspired again to create something.
This starts you off in a vicious cycle I call the Creativity Deathtrap.
It’s the moment you run into the limitations you begin to realize things were much harder than you thought it would be.
The challenge can be daunting to the point you don’t know what to do.
When this happens, it’s easy to put it off for later because it’s giving you a headache trying to figure it out.
What you initially thought was a great idea is now sitting there undeveloped and you begin to treat the idea like it’s growing mold.
You don’t go near it and you tell yourself you’ll get back to it when the solution eventually comes to mind, but it never comes.
Then the project dies.
I was always struggling with this self-defeating cycle until I started applying one important lesson in my life.
When I was at a business conference once, I saw one of the staff members wearing a T-shirt with three words on it.
It was when I saw his shirt I realized why I not making enough progress with my creative work.
The three words on his shirt were Massive Imperfect Action.
This was when I realized I had a huge problem.
The amount of progress I wanted to make was severely slowed down because the amount of things I was willing to try was minimal.
I wanted to get the best results while taking the least amounts of risk as possible.
Then the truth sank in.
The Key to Producing Your Best Work is to Take Massive Imperfect Action
It easy to go into analytical mode when you get stuck working on something. So many thoughts run through your mind and you play out so many scenarios in your head.
It wasn’t until I embraced this idea of taking massive imperfect action the Creativity Deathtrap turned into a Creativity Activation Cycle.
Here’s how taking many imperfect actions can help you get unstuck.
Massive Imperfect Action Makes You Keep Showing Up
I went to college to get a pharmacy degree. It was a six-year program where halfway through the program, at least half of the students drop out.
I was barely getting by with a 2.8 GPA while working three part time jobs to pay the bills, but I was fortunately one of the ones who made it through and graduated.
I just kept showing up.
I showed up for exams even though I studied only half the material. I passed by a thread on many of my exams as a result, but I passed nonetheless.
This was such a huge lesson for me because I realized I didn’t need to have things all figured out all the time. What produces results is to not give up and keep showing up.
I was once at a talk given by Randall Wallace, the man who created the critically acclaimed film Braveheart. He was asked about how he produced such a great film and his reply was very straightforward.
“It’s simple, I just kept showing up.
I woke up at 5 A.M. every morning.
I grumbled and dragged myself out of bed like anyone else would.
I plopped myself in front of the computer and I just showed up.
There were times where I was in front of the computer and just started writing ‘crap crap crap…’ over and over again, but it’s because I kept showing up I was able to produce Braveheart.”
So even if you feel lazy or want to give up, maybe you just need to keep showing up and testing all your imperfect ideas.
Massive Imperfect Action Acts as Your Compass And Points You In The Right Direction
There’s no doubt massive imperfect action will produce imperfect results, but it gives you something to work with.
Imperfect results are better than no results.
These results will point you towards what works well and what doesn’t.
All the imperfect actions you take now acts as a compass for where to change your direction and you eventually end up in the place you want to be.
Oprah Winfrey said at a Harvard commencement speech one year:
“There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”
If we approach our creativity more as an exploration rather than a success versus failure approach, our best work comes as a result.
Companies like Apple and Microsoft didn’t create their top performing products on their first try. There was plenty of money and resources spent making below par prototype after prototype before finally developing the great products you use today.
All the massive imperfect action was what gave them the clarity. It showed them a clearer path to what needed to be done next.
Massive Imperfect Action Focuses You On Why You’re Doing The Work
I have to admit the biggest reason for my inaction with my work was the fearful thought:
“What if people don’t like my work? I need to make sure I have an amazing plan in place first before doing anything so people don’t think I’m stupid.”
These fears were what paralyzed me from acting on my ideas with greatest potential.
Massive imperfect action was the cure to my perfectionism. It led me to my best work because it only had one goal:
To just keep moving forward.
My priority became to figure out how to finish my project at all costs.
It gave me the resolve to keep trying rather than sitting around worrying about how others won’t approve of my work or worse off, ridicule it if I don’t do it right.
It helped me focus on getting the work done because it connected me with why it was important to me. I wanted to connect with people and empower them through my work.
As a result, I didn’t care as much about failing and how it made me look. I found the courage to fight hard for what mattered to me most.
Much Humility is Necessary When Taking Massive Imperfect Action And it’s Needed to Get You Where You Need to go.
Imagine yourself again in a challenging creative block.
Maybe you’ve published a few articles on your blog already, but you haven’t gotten as much response as you’d have hoped.
Or maybe you’ve tried to launch your own business, but you’re overwhelmed and not many people share your excitement.
You’re discouraged, but this time you decide not to give up. You’ve resolved to producing something. Anything.
So you stop thinking so much about it and you just do it.
You do a whole bunch of things that you don’t know will work, but you remember why this work matters to you.
You still get crappy results, but something happens.
You look at your work and you see what’s crappy about it, but you also begin to see what has a little potential.
You hone in on that potential and you act again on your newly generated ideas.
You see more potential so you cut out the crappy parts and expand further on the potential.
Next thing you know, you’re in this new cycle of testing and modifying until you come up with something so great you’re surprised at yourself you were capable of doing it.
The biggest breakthroughs don’t come on the first try. It comes from massive imperfect action you take and you find your best work like you find a diamond after mining for days in the rocks.
You may feel stuck, but you won’t make any progress by sitting still. The key to growth is action. Massive imperfect action.
So start today.
In fact, start right now. I promise you’ll become a better person because of it.