If you’re like me, you have a litany of side projects and ideas constantly in the hopper, and choosing what to work on next is never easy. Should I pursue that paying gig? Should I write that blog post? What about that web app I wrangled a buddy into helping with?
There’s a thousand considerations to make when deciding to take on new responsibilities, but for me, they usually boil down to a choice between:
Choosing #1 is the safe place to be in the short term. You know the ins and outs of a certain kind of project and can gauge what you expect from it. For example, a quick WordPress site. I know how long it will take, how much I can charge for it, and what I can expect out of it when it’s done. No surprises here, Mr. dependable.
#2 is a bit of a wildcard. These projects are the “wild hair” kinds of things that shoot into frame late at night or over a beer. There’s no dependable roadmap for this kind of project and you don’t know if it’s useful to anyone, but there’s something in the not knowing that makes it exciting as hell, at least at first.
Not too long ago, I was asked by a coworker to illustrate a video she was working on. At first I thought she was at best only half-serious. Sure, I doodle crap constantly, but that’s what it is, crap. I don’t take it seriously and I don’t expect anyone else to. I’m no DaVinci, but I get a kick out of it.
I was reluctant to pursue this new opportunity at first. Self conscious and a little weary of actually challenging myself, I tried to think of excuses not to do it. I mean, “Who the shit am I to be drawing for any real purpose in mind?”
Eventually, having evacuated myself of all my ideas of what could go wrong, I decided to go for it. I didn’t know what I was doing, I wasn’t sure I was capable of the task, and I sure as shit didn’t think it’d turn out well. Then again, it was something different, and there’s value in that.
In the end, the video turned out pretty decently in my humble opinion, and more importantly, I had a blast doing it. I learned a little bit about how to stretch my perceived skills in different ways, and focus under the threat of failure.
Getting out of your comfort zone occasionally can be a good thing.
By the way, here’s the video: