Do it now.
As much as I hate being in debt and the emotional rollercoaster that is risking everything to do the work that matters to me, I hate the thought of regretting how I lived my life just a little bit more. No matter how tired or discouraged I feel, all it takes for me to get up and keep going is the reminder that my time is finite and death is inevitable. The point of being alive is not to avoid every mistake and become a model human, it’s to live life as fully as possible.
At the same time, the point of pursuing a way of being that we’re passionate about—however connected or not that is to the work that we do—isn’t to overwork and tire ourselves out. It’s to find greater satisfaction on a daily basis with how we spend our time and energy. All any of us wants is to look back on our lives and feel content that we spent our time in meaningful ways. And maybe you, like me, are also longing to leave something behind to be remembered by.
Sex and relationship therapist Esther Perel talks about the erotic as an antidote to death. She says, “It is about how people connect to this quality of aliveness, of vibrancy, of vitality, of renewal. It is actually a spiritual, mystical experience of life.” Layer that on top of physician Atul Gawande’s measurement of what makes a good day and doing what we feel called to do creatively becomes a kind of pleasure-filled pilgrimage.
Despite the fact that I endlessly make fun of my creative work, I take also take what I do very seriously. I am privileged to be able to invest time and money into the work that matters to me. What’s more, art has the ability to be transformative and shape how folx see themselves and the world. This is no frivolous undertaking. In all the ways that other people’s art has changed you, you have the ability to do that for someone else.
Of course, doing it now is scary because suddenly there’s no place to hide. You have to face your fears head-on on a regular basis and have to get comfortable with good enough so you actually ship your work. Doing it now also means investing more time, energy, and money into finding the support you need to keep showing up as you chip away at your creative work. It’s far more comfortable to keep putting things off and dream instead of do.
No doubt most of us will fail a lot of the time as we pursue a life well-lived. That’s the trade-off for creating something from nothing. At the same time, we are resilient and every mistake we make can become a learning to apply to future iterations of our creative process. So at some point—preferably now—you must accept that you’ll never feel ready to take the leap and jump anyways. Because doing is terrifying but regret is a far more painful fate.
What do you need to do now to avoid feeling regret later on?