Lights, Camera, Action...Fear?! Free to Pursue on YouTube

Getting into or starting something new can be quite a process.

First, there's the dream phase where we picture ourselves knowing or doing what we're about to learn and/or start doing. It's exciting and a little scary at the same time...and it's all just fantasy, at least for the time being.

Unfortunately, that's where many dreams remain, either playing in our minds on an infinite loop or mothballed, never to see the light of day.

If we're lucky enough to get out of the dream phase, there's the planning phase, where we get the equipment and/or tools and knowledge we need to help us be successful in our new endeavour. 

Then, assuming we get past the planning stage, we move to action. What's action? Doing "the thing" we've been dreaming of doing. Executing on our plan (or lack thereof).

The harder you try to be perfect, the less likely you’ll accomplish your goals.
— Jon Acuff, Finish (2017), p. 16.

Action is messy, even if we've planned the heck out of it. There are always unexpected events, the hiccups that make for a bit of a bumpy road. We can't make it perfect because it's impossible to foresee all the wrinkles that will come our way as we get our feet wet for the first, second, even third time.*

And it's this messiness that causes the fear, the anxiety and ultimately the reluctance to take the plunge into the unknown. If it's not going to be perfect, if it's not going to be smooth sailing, we don't want to make a go of it. Or, if we do, we hang up our skates the moment we hit a rough patch.

The fear of starting is very real for me right now. I gave myself a goal of starting a YouTube channel for Free to Pursue in early 2018. As I write this, it's April 19th. Not quite early in the year anymore, is it... 

Why the delay?

First, I felt I needed to get comfortable with the camera. Funny thing is that I can get in front of hundreds of people to speak but, for some reason, getting in front of the camera feels way too...intimate. I filmed 47 videos before finally publishing number 48. Yes, you read that right. Forty-seven videos from January 1st to April 17th. That's weeks of effort. 

Second, I felt the need to get comfortable with the hardware and software (iMovie & YouTube), so I did what I do best: I used the equipment and read books and online resources to address my knowledge gap. Again, that's weeks of effort.

Third, I watched the videos over and over again to get a feel for the mannerism I liked and those I felt I needed to change, improve on or drop. Incidentally, videotaping myself up close has helped my public speaking tremendously because what I think is going on in my mind's eye and what I see recorded on camera are often two different things.

The camera, unfortunately, does not lie. *sigh*

Fourth, there's the apprehension around the reaction others will have to what I put out into the world. After all, that—along with needing to know whether I would stick with the activity of writing—was what had me writing for this blog for six months before going live with it. (So maybe four months in this case is an improvement?).

Here's what I now know and that I want to document (again) for both you and for my future self:

I went through the above steps to get comfortable with the unknown, not because I needed to do them to get the job done, technically speaking.

The problem is that perfectionism magnifies your mistakes and minimizes your progress. It does not believe in incremental success.
— Jon Acuff, Finish (2017), p. 14.

The truth is that I have used maybe 10% of the accumulated knowledge and learning listed above to launch my first video. What I launched with I could have produced the first week of January because I started to focus on just doing it as opposed to doing it perfectly. It was my fear, which required the gargantuan effort to expand my comfort zone, that caused the delay or—more appropriately stated—that lead me to build in some delay.

[D]eveloping tolerance for imperfection is the key factor in turning chronic starters into consistent finishers.
— Jon Acuff, Finish (2017), p. 11.

As it turns out, preparation was more about getting my head in the game than it was about needing to be prepared. Doing stuff is messy, especially at first. If you don't believe me, watch a toddler work through his/her first piece of chocolate cake. Yeah. Exactly.

Do I have a lot to learn? Absolutely. There's a TON I don't know and likely a TON of mistakes I have yet to make and learn to avoid. But I've decided that it will be a whole lot better to fall flat on my face once in a while and learn a lot every time I do than to experience a four-month delay in anything I want to try my hand at again, either now or in the future. Maybe I'll finally learn this important lesson and save myself a great deal of time and effort the next time I tackle the unknown.

For now, I'll take publishing number 48 as a win and hope that adding video content to this blog and extending Free to Pursue content to a YouTube audience will be a useful activity for all parties involved.

Want to see the fruits of my—mostly unnecessary—time and labour? Here is the first video, in all its glory:

As with anything I publish on this blog—and now on YouTube—I look forward to hearing what you think of the content. 

Note: the video linked above is the new and improved intro video. After another three weeks of editing practice, the old version needed a revamp. The raw footage is still the same, but the editing is much, much...MUCH better. Enjoy!

*Incidentally, I got my hands on Jon Acuff's book "Finish" after publishing my first video. I could really have used some of these quotes a few months ago. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20 after all. Let's just hope I've learned the lesson this time.

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