How to get to work on that million-dollar idea?
November 19, 2006 4:45 AM   Subscribe

I've got an idea for a web-based product that, when completed, could eventually make me a millionaire. I'm confident it would work, I've got the necessary programming skills and all the steps from beginning to end mapped out in my head. And yet, I'm completely unable to start actually doing something – anything – about it. It's been the same thing over and over again with lesser ideas and small personal projects throughout my life, and I don't know how to break the cycle now that I REALLY should. Anyone have any ideas?

I'm 26 years old, and I recently realized that I have only ever completed ONE non-trivial personal project in my entire life, though I've started or contemplated dozens and dozens. (And no, I don't really know what separated the one from the others.) Looking back, I've recognized the same pattern all the way from childhood, but it's just in the last 2-3 years that it has started bothering me. I'm pretty innovative, but I never get any further than kicking around ideas in my head or, at the most, scribbling some notes down. Any attempts to do the actual work always end up in frustration or don't even begin. I end up punching a wall, screaming and crashing on the bed staring at the ceiling in despair of failing yet again. Many a good project's gone to waste because of sheer laziness and lack of motivation.

In this case, there should be ample motivation. The project would potentially forever free me from working 9 to 5 (a waste of life which I hate and am simply not built for) and get me enough cash to fulfill any wealth-requiring dream I've ever had. This is quite unlike anything I've ever thought of before, and it would only take a few months of none-too-hard work. My father has agreed to loan me all the money I need to start, a few thousand bucks, without interest or a time limit for paying back. My little brother is an expert on finance and bureaucratic technicalities. Everything is in place except my head.

Why is it that I'm easily able to allocate several hours for time-wasting stuff, like hacking through a very difficult level of N, or trying to get a near-perfect score on a Guitar Hero song on Expert difficulty? Both of those produce a lot of frustration at times, but that frustration is like fuel, it keeps me going until I eventually succeed. I may swear, shout or punch a wall or a sofa, but the motivation lives on, even improves. Contrast that to work-related frustration, even a little of which quenches any creative fire I may have. I just give up instantly at the first hurdle and become depressed.

The people near me have no advice besides "just start doing it!", which does not help at all. I would if I knew how, but I don't. I never have. Even if I force myself to start, I can't get myself to continue for very long.

I'm getting desperate. I hate the idea of popping pills or taking drugs, but I'm seriously contemplating the option. For God's sake, it's a few months of work, all of which I know how to do, none of which is even that difficult. What the hell is wrong with me?
posted by lifeless to Work & Money (29 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
It's kind of old advice, but I get through motivational crashes this way: set a timer for 10 minutes and do 10 minutes work on the project today. After 10 minutes STOP even if you're having fun. There's no goal for the 10 minutes except doing it, so don't worry about progress. Repeat day after day, increasing the period of time each day.

It might also help to try to enumerate the reasons why you want to do this project apart from its earning potential. It's hard to do anything motivated only by a distant future reward, however massive. Are there aspects of the project you would enjoy doing, right now, once you got going?

There are those who would say that if the answer to that question is 'no', then it's never going to pay as well as you're expecting. I'm not sure about that, but it would certainly help if you could answer 'yes'.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:57 AM on November 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

Maybe it would help if you got a partner? Ideally someone more motivated than you are. I just finished a screenplay with a couple of friends, and there's no way I could've done it without them. (As evidenced by the fact that I have a *much better idea* for another screenplay of my own, and have done pretty much nothing with it over the past year.)
posted by TonyRobots at 5:05 AM on November 19, 2006

Best answer: I think you're making a mistake thinking that an idea is ever worth anything at all. Ideas are free - it is in the execution of the idea is where any potential for money making comes in.

By considering how valuable an idea could be, you are likely blocking yourself, psychologically, from doing the very things that it would take to make the idea bear fruit. And the fruit comes when you build it - and it's not there at the idea stage unless you can do that.

So forget about value - which your idea does NOT have anyhow. Think about the project itself, and take the little steps required to make it happen. There's no magic in it - it's just a question of discipline and focus.

There is one tactic that might help - and that is to embark on the project with a partner who can offer the discipline and focus that you seem to lack. I think in general people can trick themselves into not doing many things for themselves - but when someone else is relying on you, often it's easier to step up and get the job done.
posted by mikel at 5:07 AM on November 19, 2006 [3 favorites]

IANAD, but you sound a bit like me, and I have ADD.

If you don't want doctors and pills, the thing that helps me the most (and I'm in your *exact* situation at the moment) is a partner, for the exact reasons mikel layed out.
posted by o2b at 5:23 AM on November 19, 2006

It's too big. Don't try and eat an elephant all at once. One bite at a time.

Like many others, you love your idea in the beginning, but actually getting started on it, feels laborious, because, you're thinking of building a mountain.. You need to make molehills (and not get 'stars in your eyes' from all the money you'll make).

Break it down into actual steps. I mean it. Take an hour. You won't solve it all. Take just the initial parts.

Most people fail because they can't break it down into specific actionable steps.

You think that because the idea is GOLD that it'll be easy. It's not necessarily hard. The key is to do the same thing as the rest of your life, which is to start 'big' (setting up the idea, troubleshooting it, marketing it, maintaining it), and work smaller (how to set it up: domain, what are the pieces, how does each of them start and complete).

Keep working until each piece feels like something that you can do. You know you need to repeat this process if you're not sure what to do next.

By the way, this is really concepts around the whole "Getting things done" workflow.
posted by filmgeek at 6:02 AM on November 19, 2006

You said you've worked out all the steps, so the next thing is to break those steps down. Work out and write down which steps are required to get things moving, and why. Then break down each individual element into all it's pieces.

Once you have a broad meta-list of first important steps, and individual lists of all steps broken down, you can work out your priorities. Give top priority to anything that you can see as a significant step forward, so that you at least have something to build on, and give you motivation.

By the time you've thought everything through and written it out, in as much detail as is practicable, it will seem a lot easier to narrow down to focusing on one part. With this overview, you are free to forget the bigger picture and put your concentration in one place. And you'll probably be eager to get down to some real action, instead of making lists.

Now you have some specific tasks to work on, if you still find it hard to concentrate, start working on any small piece of the task, to get the brain warmed up, slowly plodding through the basics. Just pick something easy, so that you start actually doing something toward the project, don't start off in the deep end. For me it's kind of like pushing a roller coaster cart up the first hill - effort at first, but once you've built up a little mental momentum, you're away.

When you get tired of working on one part, take a decent break and then work on a different part, don't try to force yourself if the mind isn't willing. Give your brain a rest from one kind of thinking, and move to another. If something is really bugging you, leave it alone for a day or two.
posted by MetaMonkey at 6:03 AM on November 19, 2006

You're able to spend hours hacking through video games because the real-life stakes are miniscule.

Real-life endeavors with delayed payoffs involve not only material risk, but also the threat of losing (of what is so far just) the fantasy--a focus on "OMG, this is the project that will make me a millionaire/win me a Pulitzer/give me my first big break/etc." can be destructive to actually getting anything done. You're already focusing on "What is the BEST thing that will happen if this idea is successful and I am able to follow through on it?" get out a piece of paper and write down the worst things that could happen if you're wrong: any possible financial risk from investments made, either in time or money; the need to come up with a new plan to free yourself from the 9-5 work, any possible disappointment or "losing face," etc. If you haven't thought of anything you couldn't deal with in the worst case scenerio, then start breaking it down into the processes and tasks that need to happen next, and then after that, and then after that.

Don't kill your dream by being afraid of losing/tainting a fantasy. There is the fear of failure, the fear of success...but also the fear of, "fantasizing about this success has been so internally rewarding/comforting I can't risk giving that up by letting the reality of risk/uncertainty/process intrude."

(That, and look into the ADD thing.)
posted by availablelight at 6:04 AM on November 19, 2006 [4 favorites]


When I was doped up on Prednisone to beat back a hellish flare-up of Wegener's Granulomatosis ~2 years ago, I came up with the *best* idea for a story... ever!

I stayed up for two days on end writing the plot outline, defining characters, and fantasizing about how cool it would be when it was finally finished.

After I short nap, I read what I'd written, recognized it for the *trash* it was, tore it in tiny little pieces, threw them in the toilet, peed on them, and flushed them down the drain.

I discovered later that Prednisone tends to induce altered psychological states in people, and for the duration of my treatment I was bloody manic-depressive.

*Confessor shakes his head ruefully*

I'm not suggesting that you are manic-depressive, but I will urge you not to dismiss lightly the possibility that your symptoms may, in fact, have a clinical basis.
posted by The Confessor at 6:23 AM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you really want to get motivated do this: Quit your job. Not jsut quit it, but quit the shit out of it. Burn your bridges. Break into a meeting and tell everyone in it exactly what you think of them and their stupid projects and clients.

Easy and fun, right? Now you have more motivation. You either get your new company up and running and making out a millionaire or you starve to death. With the added benefit that you now have a lot more free time.

PS: No I'm not joking. I did this about 12 years ago when I wanted to start freelancing and I've never regretted it.

PPS: Don't let these people convince you that you have ADD, you sound perfectly normal human to me.
posted by Ookseer at 6:30 AM on November 19, 2006

This used to be me. Then I got together with some other talented programmers and finally finished something.

Lots of programmers have Programmer-ADD. We're constantly thinking of new ideas, but rarely ever finishing the ones we start (if we start them at all). The problem is that the "next great thing" we think of instantly takes priority in our mind, and it's a lot more exciting to work on the first 90% of a project than the last 10%. Usually that last 10% is just fixing bugs, smoothing out interface, etc. All the boring stuff.

I recommend what has already been advised: get a few other people involved. That way when one of you starts showing signs of their focus drifting, the others can kick your ass back into shape and get you back to work.

Don't know if this will help you at all, but did you know that the Facebook creator is 22. Twenty-fucking-two. And he's turned down offers of hundreds of millions of dollars for Facebook. That could be you.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:39 AM on November 19, 2006

I run into the same thing constantly - I'm self-employed and motivation is hard to get. Here's something that works for me sometimes:

1. Look at your list of steps for the project. Choose one step that you can finish today.

2. If you're saying "all of these are too big to do in one day," you need to break them down into smaller steps.

3. Do that step today.

4. If you need more incentive, choose one of those "fun" projects - like guitar hero - and use it as a reward after you finish your step.

If your list of steps is mapped out "in your head," get it on paper. In the process, you'll probably be surprised to find that the mapping in your head isn't as complete as you thought. This might be part of what's holding you back.

Also, don't be afraid of using an unconventional schedule. Don't look at it like you have N hours a day to work and you should accomplish X each day. You will naturally have spurts where you can be productive for hours, after which you want to spend the next two days playing Guitar Hero. Let it happen, it works. At least for me it does.

Next, I agree with availablelight and others - when you said "The project would potentially forever free me from working 9 to 5 ... and get me enough cash to fulfill any wealth-requiring dream I've ever had" I threw up a red flag.

I'm not saying your idea's worthless or that you're wrong - I have no clue - but you've put enormous pressure on yourself with that goal.

Imagine the same thing happening in your 9-5 job. One day, your boss says "Get these papers from stack A to stack B by 5:00 and you can go home early." The next day, he says "Get these papers from stack A to stack B by 5:00 and you'll make the company millions of dollars. If it takes you longer we'll probably go out of business and it will be your fault."

If you're like me, the second scenario would leave you paralyzed, while the first would make your job a bit easier. You're the boss here, and you have to be careful which message you give you-the-employee.

I also recommend "Getting Things Done," although you may find it turns into one of those unproductive projects that you obsess over. (I don't have time for work, I'm working on perfecting my GTD system!)

Good luck!
posted by mmoncur at 6:42 AM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Also, I should have repeated what Ookseer posted while I was typing: you might want to just throw caution to the wind and quit your job.

That's what I did 6 years ago, and to this day the threat of "If I don't get something accomplished here I'll have to start looking for a 9-5 job" is one of my major motivators...
posted by mmoncur at 6:48 AM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm not a programmer, but I have a similar problem in other areas, particularly those that require real thought. I start probjects, but can't seem to finish them. (Any mefite who's ever found me to be a real pain in the ass in a blue debate will be thrilled to know that for every one post I make, there are three I start and don't complete.) In my case, there's not a lot of mystery about the cause. I have a disorder known, variously, as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and about fifty other names. I have lot thof different symptoms, but the two that are relevant to this particular problem are lack of energy and anxiety. These two problems together will just destroy any sort of creative effort.

The lack of energy means that I can't get any momentum going. I have the first thought.. and then nothing follows it. I can't jump from point A to point B. It's like when your computer locks up and you're left just sitting there, frustrated as hell. It makes pounding your head against the wall seem like an excellent idea.

The anxiety causes me to worry about every decision and analyze to death everything I'm doing rather than simply doing it. Also, as alcoholic and drug addict writers all over the world can attest, anxiety is a real creativity killer.

So maybe your difficulties are rooted in some sort of medical/psychological problem. At the very least, it's probably worth trying some method of relaxation (perhaps chemically assisted, perhaps not). There are also methods for increasing your energy levels.

But on another note entirely...

I would caution against the assumption that your idea is going to make you a millionaire. Even with he best idea in the world and a team of industrious geniuses backing you up, something can always go wrong. By all means, you should persue your project; just don't bet all your money (either literally or figuratively) on a particular outcome. Worry about the IPO when the time comes. I think both your productivity and your long term happiness will improve if you can find a way to not think so much about the future and just concentrate on what's right in front of you. Lord knows one of my biggest anxiety triggers is thinking about the decade and a half of stuff I wanted to accomplish but didn't.
posted by Clay201 at 6:51 AM on November 19, 2006

I seem to want to give a different answer to this type of question every time in comes up. Consider that a warning if you like.

Anyway, my suggestion is to cultivate single-mindedness. Make "I don't care about that" your mantra and apply it to everything but the project and a very small number of other exceptions (like your partner, family etc). If you hang around here a lot, you can start feeling like you should be knowledgable about and interested in everything but that's really not necessary for success and at times that attitude can really get in the way.
posted by teleskiving at 6:54 AM on November 19, 2006

If you can't find a partner to work on your project, maybe you can find someone working on a different project to partner up with. You can keep each other focused on your own projects. Sort of like co-managers.
posted by fcain at 7:19 AM on November 19, 2006

It could just be you're an ideas guy -- you certainly seem to fit the profile of the other creative people I know. For them it's more about the idea than the execution.

If you really can't get to it, get someone else to do it. What I mean is: Make an appropriate business plan, get VC funding if need be and drag in others to do the drudgery.

good luck
posted by gadha at 8:52 AM on November 19, 2006

I hear that Getting Things Done is useful in cases like yours.
posted by fish tick at 9:57 AM on November 19, 2006

Three points:

1) I double, triple, whatever the notion of a partner, even if just in correspondence if not it person. If you're resistant to this because you want control, what do you think will happen when your creation winds up in others' hands?
2) You may be happier having an eternally deferred future, specifically one in which you're a millionaire and you're free and it's all because you're creative and smart. Having a dream like that, just having it safe and always there, can make your life seem bearable. Actually acting on it risks destroying your dream. If you're not willing to take that risk, you're not willing to do your project.
3) You must enjoy the process. You must take delight in it. Most cases of great success are not stories of great ideas that the creators labored painfully to realize. Rather, they are the stories of creators caught up in a joyous fever of concentrated work from which the great idea emerged. In other words, you may be working backwards.

So, in sum: You need other people; courage; joy in work. Good luck.
posted by argybarg at 10:24 AM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

this is not unique to programming- I experience it as a writer and I bet anyone who does anything creative goes through the same thing: having ideas is easy and fun. Executing them is work. I have a spreadsheet full of ideas for screenplays. I will never live long enough to write them all.

To echo what others said, do a little every day. Doesnt matter how little, just do SOMETHING every single day that brings your goal closer.

And maybe accept that "punching a wall, screaming and crashing on the bed staring at the ceiling" is part of the process sometimes. One of the most harmful things people get told, in my opinion, is that the creative process should be "fun" or that they should wait for "inspiration" before getting to work.

this is awful advice because:
a) it leads to feeling that you're doing something "wrong" when it doesnt feel good every single day, which leads to abandoning ideas and constantly starting new ones, only to repeat the cycle


b) it's work. waiting for "inspiration" means giving yourself an excuse not to work when conditions arent 100% perfect. This means you will rarely, if ever, get anything done. Dont dress it up as some mystical thing- it's work, pure and simple, just like you were doing manual labor. Sometimes you're in the mood to go to work, sometimes you're not. But you just have to do it anyway.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:59 AM on November 19, 2006

Some to do stuff that you might find helpful, here and here. Oh and maybe read a useful book like Feeling Good (David Burns) so that you can let yourself believe you can do it.

Write it down in microsteps and then set your kitchen timer for 30 minutes and take on a step. You will get something achieved and it will add up.
posted by b33j at 11:59 AM on November 19, 2006

I dont want to be argumentative but I believe this:

Most cases of great success are not stories of great ideas that the creators labored painfully to realize.

is one of the single most wrong things I have ever read. Maybe that is the way the stories get told afterwards, but I dont think anyone who has ever really followed through on a creative project would talk about a "joyous fever of concentrated work." As I said above, work is work. Much of the time it's hard and you'd rather not be doing it. But you have to do it if you want to get it done.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:02 PM on November 19, 2006

You're able to spend hours hacking through video games because the real-life stakes are miniscule.

My first thought as well, and the idea of making a million dollars strikes me as being something so wildly unrealistic as to provide you an out or excuse for not starting. No one could ever blame you for not making a million right?

Maybe try something 'real-world' that's more immediately achievable. Do something smaller first. Doesn't matter what it is. Start with something smaller and succeed at it. Build your confidence and a functional working style as you move along, succeeding at one realistic goal after another.
posted by scheptech at 1:15 PM on November 19, 2006

Best answer: Your situation sounds very familiar to me -- especially the part about dealing with it since childhood. I've run into this wall of depression and anxiety time and time again, on all kinds of creative projects.

If you're like me, all the logic, discipline, and personal development tools in the world won't help you with the root of the problem (in fact, they will just become tools for beating yourself with -- i.e., "Why didn't I do my 10 minutes of work today? It should be so simple! What the hell is wrong with me?") These logistical solutions can definitely help you, but only after you deal with the emotional issues.

Here's what your situation sounds like to me:

1. The problem is anxiety -- paralyzing, numbing anxiety.
2. The anxiety gets worse as the stakes get higher. This is why you're able to work really hard at Guitar Hero (a relatively meaningless task), but you can't work at all on your idea (which is as high-stakes as they come).
3. The anxiety and depression reinforce each other, paralyzing you even further.

This doesn't mean that you are lazy, undisciplined, or crazy. It just means something in your life has taught you to respond to stress with extreme anxiety and depression. Talking to someone -- a good therapist, for instance -- can give you some new perspective and provide positive feedback as you try to change things.

In the meantime, please try to go easy on yourself. Blaming yourself for every little "failure" will only sap your energy and make you more depressed.

The situation that you describe is enormously frustrating. Rather than beating yourself up about it, be frustrated that the anxiety is getting in your way. If you direct your frustration at the problem (instead of at yourself), it can help motivate you to make a long-term change in your life.

Good luck -- I hope this helps --
posted by ourobouros at 2:26 PM on November 19, 2006 [4 favorites]

I have exactly the same problem that you describe.

May I ask a few questions?

1. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being extremely high, and 1 being extremely low, how would you rate your view of life as far as being optimistic?

2. Compared to your peergroup, how stressful is your life?

3. You say you can program - have you worked in an office setting before? Have you worked in a physical job like construction? Which did you prefer?

4. Do you believe in the power of intention? That is to say.. that your outlook on life controls the outcome of your life.

5. Do you care about money, and if so, how much? (Again, on a scale of 1-10).

I don't suppose the answers to these questions will actually help you in any way, except if you answer yes to #4, and you use that "power" to your advantage. But I am curious to see what your responses are because you seem to have the same problem that I do, even down to the point of having a great idea for a (few) websites that could free me from a day-job.

My answers are as follows:

#1: I am a 9 or a 10 on the optimism scale, but I am still realistic. I'm not a pollyanna, if you will, but I expect things to work out almost 100% of the time.

#2: I have a very stress free life. I have problems, just like everyone else, but combined with my optimism, I don't stress out nearly as much as my peers do about similar things.

#3: I worked in an office for 5 years. I couldn't stand the drudgery. I now work in construction and look forward to every day of work. I believe that constantly being in action makes it more enjoyable than all the lulls that come with office work or programming, which is why I haven't really pushed myself to work on my projects. I'd rather be building something.

#4: I firmly believe in the P.O.I. Why I haven't applied this to my problem as far as getting work done on my projects... I don't know and cannot explain. However, even when I'm driving I seem to force spaces to open up or lanes to speed up or lights to stay green. I feel like complete strangers respond to me on a subconcious level and make things happen in my favor. Can't really explain it. Its probably just me being slightly crazy but I like it whether or not its actually true.

#5: I realize the importance of money, especially living in the U.S. but I can't seem to make myself prioritize earning money, or producing work that might yield money over playing games like N or dinking around on Mefi or Digg. In fact, my financial situation should deem it necessary that I focus on nothing *but* earning money for the time-being but I still let myself off the hook.

ourobouros has an interesting point about anxiety, which makes me doubly interested in hearing your response about stress levels in your life. If anxiety is the root of our problem, then I have to ask how does that come in to play when I don't feel stressed? Is it possible that because I am so used to living without anxiety and stress that when I get anxiety and stress from the fear of failure on my big, important projects, I just pass it off as something completely different and trivial?

The next question is how to get past that problem?

One thing that has helped me in the past is to identify something in your life (perhaps a loved one, or a recreational activity/hobby, or long term goal) that motivates you in a big way, and then link it to the completion of your project. Or perhaps, reward yourself for the daily or weekly efforts you make on your big project with a small dose of whatever it is that motivates you.
posted by farmersckn at 3:16 PM on November 19, 2006

You have a fear of failure (or success and I am not sure there is much difference there). You constantly come up with ways to avoid failing because of the idea or the effort. You fail because you procrastinate away the attempt and then can always say to yourself, "It would have worked if I had tried."

All the advice in the world will only work to put you in a position to attempt the project; not succeed at it. If you try and succeed, you will achieve your objective. It will make trying the next time that much easier. If you try and fail (however you define failure BEFORE you start), you may find that it is not so bad. You will derive satisfaction from the effort if you can look yourself in the mirror and know you gave a sincere 100% effort. Failure is not a bad thing. Not trying is the crime.

I forget who said the quote but it is still valid, "If I wasn't failing, I wasn't trying."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:44 PM on November 19, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the replies so far. Very good points have been raised, and insights presented I hadn't thought of. I've marked a couple of answers that "felt right". To address some of the issues:

1) Partnering up. I've considered a partner, and I've got a candidate, an old non-programmer friend who has expressed a preliminary interest, but I haven't actively pursued the option. He works as a project coordinator in his day job, and is extraordinaly efficient, so there might be some good synergy there.

2) GTD. I've actually done GTD for a period of time earlier this year, but somehow just gradually stopped as it didn't turn out to be the boon that the hype made it out to be. Dividing the large monolithic task into smaller, digestible subtasks is obviously a good idea, but it's work in itself and thus I'm able to procrastinate even that :-). But still, perhaps I'll start over, wiser this time.

3) Clinical basis. I've looked into adult ADD and depression in the past, and while certain symptoms from each have matched, the overall picture never quite has. I may go see a psychiatrist at some point to verify or debunk this, and adjust my habits accordingly.

You've been a big help, folks. I don't know if I'll eventually manage to get going, but if I do, I owe you one.
posted by lifeless at 11:26 PM on November 19, 2006

Response by poster: Re: farmersckn

#1: Varies day by day. Anything from 3 to 8 out of 10, maybe, biased towards the lower end these days.

#2: Nearly unstressful. Let's say 2 out of 10. I've got and extremely relaxed day job as a tech support guy, mostly just free time to be spent however I please. No complaints there, but the pay is low and career advancement is a no-go.

#3: This is my third job, the previous two being full-time PHP programming jobs. I grew up on a farm so I've done my share of physical labor, and I prefer the office work.

I'm actually pretty much fed up with PHP by now, but it's the only tool I know well enough to create anything with. The issue of passion and excitement has been raised in the thread. Frankly, I've got none of either for the actual coding work part of this project, but it's too good of an idea to pass up just because of a few months of slight discomfort. There's no reason why I shouldn't be able to get to work... aaaand cue my original post :-).

#4: To a degree, yes I do. I'm a pessimist cynic (=realist?), so that doesn't help much. But still, I've been fortunate enough so far. As I said, everything is in place for this project to happen, except my head. I'm lucky to have all the other variables set in my favor, and I've always somehow trusted that things work out in the end. That's a part of my frustration, I think: this thing isn't "just working out" by itself, and I'm not used to it.

#5: Not money specifically, but all the things it buys. Lets say 7 out of 10. If I got a metric shitload of money, I wouldn't spend any more time working to get more just for the love of money.

I'm a materialist, very often frustrated by all the things I can't afford. Beyond that, there's the pipe dream of freedom, getting so much money in one fell swoop that I'd never have to work again - just relax, do what I love, travel with the missus and enjoy this one life I've been given.

Is it possible that because I am so used to living without anxiety and stress that when I get anxiety and stress from the fear of failure on my big, important projects, I just pass it off as something completely different and trivial?

Quite possible, IMO. That certainly applies to me as well, apart from the passing off part – I recognize the emotions for what they are and promptly surrender to them, giving up what I was trying.

I must add this, though: if this project were to fail, I wouldn't go bankrupt, I (most likely) wouldn't lose face, and life would go on like it has so far (since I'm not about to quit my job and lose the safety net, however big a motivator that might be). So if there's fear involved, it's not really a fear of failure in my case. I'm actually more afraid of how I'll feel for the rest of my life if I pass up this unique opportunity. And yet...
posted by lifeless at 12:01 AM on November 20, 2006

Thanks for answering those questions.

Why not hire someone to do the work?

On the other hand, as some others have suggested, there is always the option of quitting your job.

I know where you are coming from as far as working tech support goes - I did my share of it. If I were still doing tech support and I could find a way to live for a few months while working on my projects, I would do it.

One more idea to motivate yourself - it doesn't seem from your answers that you and I are brothers from another mother or anything - but one thing that I Know For Sure to Motivate Me is learning something new.

Working in an office bored me to death because it was monotonous. Working in construction is nice because its a different site each day. In either case, I get bored and discouraged when I run out of stuff to learn.

Once I've mastered something I must challenge myself to get interested again.

I would suggest that you start your project off by learning Django or Ruby On Rails. I'd lean towards Ruby on Rails.

It could be the catalyst to get you off to a good start, and then once you get the ball rolling, you'll finish your idea and become a multi-millionaire.

Oh and I also don't know if it will apply or help in your situation but I was thinking about your question today and I remembered that book "The Art of the Start" buy Guy Kiyosaki. It might be worth a look.
posted by farmersckn at 10:50 PM on November 20, 2006

Turn off the internet. Get away from your distractions. And sit down in a place other than your typical home or office to get some work done.

I've found that if I grab my laptop and head to a non-wifi coffeeshop, it's a lot easier for me to focus on the tasks at hand than it is to slack off in my home office because the usual distractions just aren't there. And I'm too ashamed to be slacking in public. I have no choice but to be productive!

So, cut the cord. Find a new physical location for your work. And get started.
posted by diastematic at 10:00 AM on November 21, 2006

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