The non-obvious reason why 90% of your endeavors fail before they really start

In the last article, I talked about the fact that the search for yourself and attempts to find your life’s work often fail. And now let’s talk about why even if you really like what you are doing (and it also turns out to be the same), the chances of success are less than we would like.

What could go wrong?

I entered the university as an accountant with a clear plan – to write a novel in 5 years, become famous, earn a lot of money and not work in my specialty for a single day. Great plan. What could possibly go wrong?

However, if you forget about vanilla dreams of greatness and glory, in 5 years I had every chance to write a novel

I loved to write. I was doing pretty well, and by that time I had already written some decent stories. Almost every day I took time for myself to write and write. Finally, I really, really, really wanted to be a writer and didn’t see myself as anyone else. However, when 5 years of study flew by, the novel was never written, and I had to work in my specialty for several years. Why, despite a strong desire, ability and discipline, I did not succeed?

Exactly for the same reasons why you didn’t launch the projects you wanted, didn’t change your profession from dreary to your favorite, didn’t find a more attractive job and didn’t open a business, although you dreamed about it. This reason is the inability to achieve your goals, and it is based on fear, fear and again fear.

Better to be perfect but never

It is quite easy to understand why I failed to write a novel if you look at exactly how I tried to write it. Like Mozart, who didn’t make drafts and immediately wrote a clean score, I tried to find the perfect words on the first try.

However, if it still worked with short stories, even though I spent a lot of time grinding the final version in my head, then it didn’t work with the novel. After giving birth to 20-30 pages, I suddenly realized that I needed to change the character of the hero or some scene. This plunged me into despondency, and I left the venture with the novel until the next attempt.

Obviously, it was an idiotic way to write a book. It’s just that it’s not at all obvious why I stuck to it with such persistence.

If you think I didn’t know you could write drafts, then of course I did. As startups know about MVP, as they know that first you need to make prototypes, designers. They know, and yet many people try to give the final result, burning time and money. Why?

Because it is very scary to see a weak option and be disappointed in yourself. It’s equally scary to show the draft (MVP, prototype) to others and get a bunch of condemnation: “Eww, we thought you could do better.”

From a mental point of view, it is much safer to play it safe, put a lot of effort into the product and try to bring it to perfection. Even if the project never sees the light of day, it is better than facing the condemnation of others and disappointment in yourself.

So, perfectionism is a great way to never achieve your goals, and it arises as a defensive reaction to fear (and shame). However, perfectionism is far from the only way to sabotage endeavors.

Doing the wrong thing

I often see this with those who have chosen to work for themselves. Let’s say a person decides to study to be a psychologist, a coach or a social worker. He cheerfully fits into the training and plunges headlong into a new profession. In psychologists, for example, training programs last for years, people acquire a new circle of acquaintances and hone their counseling skills in pairs. Everything goes perfectly smoothly until the training ends, and the psychologist is faced with the need to look for clients.

Do you know what so many specialists are doing at this moment? They decide they are not qualified enough to provide services and start learning again

If you ask what causes such irrational behavior (a person studied for several years in order not to apply his knowledge, but to study again), then it turns out that the point is a banal fear of declaring oneself to the world. After all, now you need to appear in a new role, you need to learn how to sell your services to customers and take money for your work.

Naturally, the fear that nothing will work out is immediately actualized, the impostor syndrome flourishes, the person experiences a burning shame that more experienced colleagues will say: “Did this “specialist” forget something here?”. Therefore, it is easier to escape into eternal learning and grow your skills until the money runs out or the universe collapses (or shatters?).

Of course, this does not only apply to psychologists. Numerous courses from the series “How to start your own business” are useless precisely because it is difficult for people to rebuild themselves. When they find out that they need to make cold calls or write to Linkedin to strangers and – oh, my God – sell, they faint (what to say, even if the link to the telegram channel makes vulnerable natures writhe from unbearable torment) . But, alas, either you are learning to sell, or you do not have a business.

So in the world of pink ponies, everything happens magically. Leads themselves appear from somewhere, customers have no objections, they carry their money and never ask for it back. In real business, there is a struggle for every potential lead. And companies of no echelon may not notice this, but the leaders always see it clearly.

I was on the phone for the first couple of years of Completo’s creation. Made 120 cold calls per day during 2007-2009. Then there was a severe financial crisis, but I didn’t understand the economy, but I knew that sooner or later at least 1, or even 2-3 clients appear from each daily call. Ten times a day they frankly send you, twenty or thirty times they merge you, you will never get through to a third, but you will make your 0.5-1.5% conversion to the sale.

Andrey Gavrikov, co-founder of Completo

And so, instead of working with their fears, rebuilding themselves, and then going to sell, people think that they need to “learn a little marketing”, move the pixels on the site and go to another course where they will definitely give a technique how not to sell, but make people buy.

That’s not mine!

Finally, there is another common reason why what you love often never becomes something serious. This is an extremely harmful myth that if you like something, then it should be given easily and effortlessly. Moreover, very often the first attempts just confirm this myth, which makes it even stronger.

For example, while a psychologist consults in a study group where everyone is immersed in a single context and treat each other with care, therapy is easy and enjoyable. But then the psychologist begins to deal with real clients, who may not be fluffy bunnies at all: they devalue the work, criticize the psychologist, do not show any progress, or drive a snowstorm, which drives the poor fellow into despondency.

As a result, the specialist decides – “this is not mine”, and refuses his vocation after the first failures.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

ocean of death

My attempts to write a novel stretched out for 10 years, and although as a result they ended successfully, I remember very well this terrible feeling when a dream sits like an abscess under the skin, and you can neither realize it nor let it go. I sighed, looking at the books of other authors who did not give up, but wrote their own books, and realized that I, it seems, is not as talented, not as persistent, not as obsessed with my dream as they are.

The Japanese poet Yosano Akiko has a “Cowardice” tanka. This poem is known to many, since the Strugatskys freely quote it in “A Billion Years Before the End of the World”:

They told me that this road would lead me to the ocean of death

And I turned back half way.

Since then, crooked, deaf roundabout paths have been stretching before me …

This corrosive feeling that I betrayed my dream and turned off my path is very familiar to me. I think it is familiar to anyone who feels that they are not living their own life, have not dared to take important actions for themselves and have not brought the matter to the end.

As I said, behind the inability to start things and see them through, there is fear. It seems that overcoming fear is not such a difficult task. It’s like plucking up the courage to jump into a cold pool. What’s so difficult?

But learning to act in spite of the fear of failure, judgment, and disappointment is not a leap into the pool.

It’s the death of your old self

The death of a person who cannot write to a stranger or present an imperfect product to the public, or take responsibility for the results of other people’s work. Fortunately, the death of the old personality is always followed by the birth of a new one, but not everyone manages to go through this transformation. Actually, that is why so many undertakings end in nothing. If the article seemed interesting, subscribe to my telegram channelwhere I write about various non-obvious psychological problems and life hacks that help to cope with them.

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