Just Do It: Cliché or Crucial?

by Michael on August 18, 2010 · 0 comments

Either get out of the road or put me in your will. (Photo by vramak)

Lately I’ve been learning some new Internet skills from a fairly respected guru, and I’ve been able to take a ton of useful information away from his tutorials.

However, there came a point when he spoke about writing articles, and addressed those in the audience who don’t think they can write. His advice was to “just do it.” Do it and don’t stop. Do it even if it’s crap. Do it even if it’s the words “do it” typed over and over again.

At first I thought it was pretty simplistic: there are some people who, try as they might, aren’t cut out for writing content. Just instructing them to “wiggle your fingers and great stuff will come out” (my paraphrase) won’t help. Then I started thinking about the nature of the phrase “just do it.” It was a cliché long before Nike decided to make it a slogan, and it’s one of those phrases some guys can’t stand to hear. But you know what?

You Can’t Do It Until You Do It

It’s true. If instead this man had instructed his people, “if you’re unsure, wait and do something else until inspiration comes,” there are people who would end up not typing word one. They’d stop and check e-mail or start watching the ballgame and they would never even know whether they could create good content. And it’s the same with most of the things we talk about here:

  • Meeting women
  • Starting a workout program
  • Clothes shopping
  • Cleaning your home
  • Meditating

Yes, even something as easy and private that no one ever has to see you doing as meditation. I’ve talked to guy after guy who have told me, “yeah, I know meditation would probably calm my stress, but I just haven’t got around to trying it.” Imagine how hard it might be for them to approach a woman!

How to Do Something

Perhaps the best way to move away from the “just do it” cliché is to change it to just do something. If you’re so daunted by a task or goal that you can’t bring yourself to take action, do this:

  1. Break down the task into steps. Write it down.
  2. Look at the first step. It should be immediately doable. If it’s not, break down the step into smaller steps.
  3. Look at the new first step. If it’s still too big, repeat Step 2.
  4. When the first step is small enough that you feel you can can accomplish it now, do it.

If you approach tasks this way, nothing will ever paralyze you with fear. You will know what you must do, and you will know how to do it—because if you don’t know, learning becomes your new first step.

Maybe You Do Too Much

Another problem you may suffer from is that you have so much to do that you don’t know where to start. If after you write down all of your goals and tasks down, you still can’t determine what’s most important to do now, close your eyes, spin the paper around and do whatever your finger lands on. Don’t second-guess. If it seems daunting, follow the steps above and break it down.

If You Fail

Most of what we do as humans is driven by fear: usually the fear of failure. Failing big is often a remembered humiliation that sticks with one for a long time. The best way to not fear failure is to fail small and often—and make sure to try and learn just what happened. It’s harder to learn from success than from failure. Trust a poker player on this (a story for a later time).

And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s finding a mentor or asking a question to a stranger (I volunteer!), putting combined brain power or a different perspective on a tough task will usually make it much easier.

I challenge you to start something you’ve been putting off, right now this second. Even if you’ve only got five minutes.

Do it.

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