In our society, we get a lot of messages that you need to be farther along than you are in life, family, your career, healing, recovery, self-discovery, neurodiversity acceptance, decolonizing, everything. The messages are often along the lines that once you’ve understood something, got a great idea, made some decision, reached some milestone, that you need to immediately know how to implement it, what to do next, how to make it all work, and just go and do it. But it doesn’t work that way.
When I’ve jumped into new projects, new identities, new understandings, and it didn’t go right the first time: I felt awful, thought I was a failure, that the idea was fundamentally flawed, or that I’ll never get anything to work. What I didn’t realize is that I was largely skipping the development and imagination phase. That’s a necessary part of all new things. I’d had this idea of what I wanted, and it was new and tender, and needed time to grow, and be nurtured and evolve before being tested.
For the past several years I started putting my new ideas, identities or plans into the world. I allow myself to prototype, to experiment, to revise it continually without clinging too hard to my initial expectations of what it would be like. That’s not failure. That’s progress. Approaching things in this way has led to much better results, and much more sustainable growth without risking burnout.