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Don't Give Up. Keep Iterating

vintharas profile image Jaime πŸ”₯πŸ§™β€β™‚οΈπŸ”₯ Updated on ・1 min read

This article was originally posted in barbarianmeetscoding.com. Photo by JosΓ© Alejandro Cuffia on Unsplash.

Don't give up. Keep Iterating.

Every single time that I work on any creative endeavor the same process will unfold:

  1. I get this idea about something that I could build, write, draw, do and I become incredibly excited and brimming with enthusiasm.
  2. I build up the idea in my head into something awesome. A delightful and beautiful masterpiece. I envision how cool it'll be when I finish it.
  3. I create the first version and, invariably, it sucks.
  4. Boom! Humongous Anticlimax. I get stressed, frustrated and/or slightly depressed depending of the day. I question my skill, value and worth: If this sucks then I must suck as well.
  5. Now I have choice. I can remain in this pit of despair, I can give up, or I can get my shit together and keep iterating.
  6. Invariably again, consistent iteration will result in something much, much better. And sometimes, even something remarkable.

So don't give up just yet. Iterate. That piece of ugly and amorphous stone you have right there might just turn into a beautiful shiny diamond.

Update 6th January: Dan just shared this on twitter. So much more awesome than this article! :D

Posted on Jan 5 '19 by:

vintharas profile

Jaime πŸ”₯πŸ§™β€β™‚οΈπŸ”₯

@vintharas

Front-end Software Engineer at Google working on Google Meet πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’» Helping developers be more awesome πŸ”₯ author, speaker & nerd πŸ§™πŸΌβ€β™‚οΈ into JavaScript, TypeScript, Vim & pixelart ❀️

Discussion

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Hi Jaime,

Thanks for sharing this, I agree with the sentiment. I often refer to my v1.0 minimum viable product as the mvf, minimum viable fail. I actually expect it to end terribly but accept that in many ways it is the engine that will kick-start the real project or product.

If we nail it the first time, then to me it suggests it's a sure fire sign that something will come along to mess with it later, or that the goals could have been set higher.

 

Hi Peter!! :D Thanks for your comment!

I often refer to my v1.0 minimum viable product as the mvf, minimum viable fail. I actually expect it to end terribly but accept that in many ways it is the engine that will kick-start the real project or product.

Interesting! I'm super optimistic so I always expect it to end awesome haha I guess there lies part of the imagination-meets-reality problem :D But indeed it is the engine that will kickstart the real thing

 

I phrased it badly, I should emphasize that I expect it to be a failure not from a negative viewpoint, but as a guide to show me what I missed during the development of the original idea.

I always hope that my ideas will work out eventually :)

 

Thank you, I should have this posted on my wall.

It takes consistent effort to move our definition of success from the outcome to the process. As you say, in the early stages we're excited about what the final outcome could be. So excited that we underestimate or downplay the effort that will be involved, and end up being faced with a harsh reality when we finally start turning those thoughts into (a far less perfect) reality.

I'm trying to set goals more along the lines of 'work on this for 30 minutes a day' and forget, as much as is possible, about the final product. Just keep building. Make a discipline out of it, so that I'm at the keyboard even when motivation hasn't struck that day. I'm hoping that by focusing on small, consistent inputs and trying not to think about the final output I may actually complete a project for a change.

 

Thank you for your comment! :D

It takes consistent effort to move our definition of success from the outcome to the process.

Indeed it does.

So excited that we underestimate or downplay the effort that will be involved, and end up being faces with a harsh reality when we finally start turning those thoughts into (a far less perfect) reality.

YES

I'm trying to set goals more along the lines of 'work on this for 30 minutes a day' and forget, as much as is possible, about the final product. Just keep building. Make a discipline out of it, so that I'm at the keyboard even when motivation hasn't struck that day. I'm hoping that by focusing on small, consistent inputs and trying not to think about the final output I may actually complete a project for a change.

Something that has helped me build such a habit is to work on low stakes, very constrained and time-boxed projects. For instance, build a 13k game within a month and see how far I get :D. Investing a month on something is not a huge commitment so it feels ok to stick with it for at least that month and if after a month I'm not feeling it I have an easy way out, and I still feel like I've achieved something.

Make a discipline out of it, so that I'm at the keyboard even when motivation hasn't struck that day.

I've found that the best way to break the inertia is to just start. Tell myself, let's just do it for 5 minutes, I can do it for 5 minutes right? And then I typically start enjoying it and just continue with it :D

 

I can totally relate. Just as a reminder, most people don't ever get to release something that sucks because they will give up earlier. Releasing is already an achievement.

After that point, if what you built doesn't have traction, now you will have to ask yourself whether you should iterate on it anyways or invest in one of those 37 ideas that you even bought the domain for already. Not a trivial question. I say that I have given up too much already. It is time to interate.

 

Thanks for your comment AndrΓ©! :D

Just as a reminder, most people don't ever get to release something that sucks because they will give up earlier. Releasing is already an achievement.

Indeed it is! Sometimes you'll give up and other times you'll be scared of sharing your work with others. So definitely releasing is an achievement

After that point, if what you built doesn't have traction, now you will have to ask yourself whether you should iterate on it anyways or invest in one of those 37 ideas that you even bought the domain for already. Not a trivial question.

Not at all. I think it helps to know yourself and have a clear vision what it is that you want to take out from a project. Do you want to learn and tinker with a technology? Do you want to solve a problem for yourself? Do you want to start a profitable business? That helps you set expectations with yourself and know what to prioritize, when to stick and when to quit.

I say that I have given up too much already. It is time to iterate.

Yeah! :D