When we are held back by our plans

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

Jessica Abel suggests that sometimes our plans take the place of action.

I got this term from Kazu Kibuishi when I interviewed him for Out on the Wire episode 7: Dark Forest. His name for the concept was new to me, but it solved a huge problem: what to call this struggle with creative sunk costs that I understand all too intimately. Here’s Kazu:

I try not to to look at what I’m going to do as this amazing great grand thing. I’m not just fulfilling some old promise that I made a long time ago. Now I’m actually solving problems in the moment, and that’s so much more exciting than than trying to fill years of what I like to call my “idea debt.” That’s when you have this dream of this awesome thing for years. You think, “Oh, I’m going to do this epic adventure. It’s going to be so great.” The truth is, no matter what you do, it will never be as great as it is in your mind, and so you’re really setting yourself up for failure.

I like snowboarding, and I used to like hitting all the jumps. And when I would go down the mountain, I would notice a bunch of young snowboarders who were waiting at the top of the jumps.

They may look like they’re waiting their turn. But in fact that they’re waiting there because they’re afraid to hit that jump. And what they don’t realize is that, over time they’re getting colder.

The Idea Debt of having to make that jump, and land it, and be impressive, is getting greater because of the amount of time they’re investing, waiting there, getting colder, at the top of the hill.

By the time they actually do it, they’re probably not going to fulfill that dream. So I learned to just hit the jump or pass it. Do it in the moment, or not at all.

Idea Debt is when you spend too much time picturing what a project is going to be like, too much time thinking about how awesome it will be to have this thing done and in the world, too much time imagining how cool you will look, how in demand you’ll be, how much money you’ll make. And way too little time actually making the thing.

But I often lack the money to focus on my projects. I have to work for someone else. So, I do what I can, but I am starved for time.

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