I have a terrible addiction to new ideas. Although I can occasionally achieve a state of flow in my corporate job, I can almost never achieve it in my free time. I’m constantly chasing the new idea dragon. When I look at the past year of output, it’s simply abysmal. All I have to show for it is a smattering of boring client work and the sad carcasses of a dozen abandoned ideas; domain names (over 300 now!), page after page of product sketches, brainstorming notes and pre-launch pages. Sometimes I rationalize it to myself thusly: “It’s okay, you’re learning from this constant generation of new ideas and product concepts. Eventually you’ll land on one that just clicks, and boy you’ll really execute then!” Except I don’t.
New ideas have the same effect on me as heroin does to an addict. The initial spike is euphoric, but the comedown is downright debilitating. As the effects wear off and the harsh realities of actually executing and iterating kick in, I move on to the next idea to get my fix.
Unless I radically change my habits, 2012 will produce another collection of corpses to throw in the idea cemetery. I really don’t want that to happen. I can’t let that happen. I turn 30 in four months which, to me, is really fucking scary. I read stuff like “it’s rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing” from Steve Jobs, and it has the uncomfortable effect of simultaneously depressing me and jolting me with a sense of panic. I’m turning 30 and I’ve produced no amazing art. Shit.
I’ve read that people overestimate what they can achieve in a year, and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade. Maybe I need to internalize that better so that next year I’m not in a constant despair/panic cycle, while channeling that manic urgency into a laser beam instead of a wank into the wind. Instead of thinking “what will I achieve when I’m 30?” maybe I should be thinking, “what will I achieve in my 30s?” Maybe. But that won’t help me today.
Today I need to get serious. No, drastic. Like a heroin addict going to rehab. This is my intervention. No more new ideas, no more domain names, no more client work, no more hypotheticals, no more I’ll do it tomorrow, no more wasted time. ”By the way, what have you ever done that’s so great?” I’ll have to get back to you.