As a curious person, I need to admit that I started more projects than I ever finished.
I started writing a book some months ago and never finished writing it. I drafted a long list of article ideas but haven’t come close to writing half of them. I even launched a few small side businesses and all of them ended up going nowhere.
People don't talk about this because it isn’t sexy. It’s easier to brag about what they’ve started and launched instead of talking about what they’ve failed to ship.
But failure to finish and to ship is common among creatives and entrepreneurs. And often, they’re more important than getting started.
If you’re someone who stands on the edge and been wanting to take a leap for a long time, you may disagree with me. Most people find it hard to get started because of the fears, uncertainties, and ambiguity that comes with doing something they’ve never done before.
But in order to get something done, you need to get started. You need to fight against the fears and resistance to taking the very first leap. You need to stop analyzing and start acting.
Here’s my solution for you: get started before you’re feeling ready.
Soon, getting started will get easier and less scary when you do it often and frequent enough.
The biggest challenge comes when you get used to getting started.
When all or any of those happens, your biggest challenge flips from getting started into getting them done: Finishing.
In the word of Seth Godin, the most important thing to do as an artist and entrepreneur is to ship: Ship your work, ship your product, ship your art.
You soon realize that it’s easy to start, but it’s way harder to finish because finishing means it’s the time to say you’re done with your work and show that to the people you do it for.
The fear of starting turns into the fear of shipping, the love of putting in the work becomes a form of resistance behind perfectionism, and the habits of getting started become a distraction.
Starting itself becomes your biggest block in finishing when you put all of your focus on getting started with new projects and forget to actually shop anyone of them.
It’s hard to finish and ship because once you ship, you’re set.
Getting started was hard, so you do the hard work by getting started. But when getting started becomes easier, it’s time to do the hard work again by shipping your art.
The call-to-action is simple if this is the stage you’re living in right now:
Before you start something new, check if you have finished and shipped anything. Instead of tracking what have you started, tracked what you have shipped.
If it’s a project you want to complete, do it. If it’s not, scrap it and clear up your space — both physically and mentally. Then, go back to work on the thing that you’re committed to ship.
Receive the best content on productivity, money, psychology, and more—straight to your inbox—once a month. And get my free Output Journal templates as a bonus.
👆 Join 3,100+ leaders, creatives, and knowledge workers today.
Dean is a strong voice in the self-mastery space. His newsletter consistently delivers insightful ideas on how to become a better version of yourself and is the only newsletter that I always read.
Head of product and engineering