It’s right in front of you

The magic is in just putting one foot in front of the other. In not quitting. In doing less, but still doing it. To just make time, or a little more energy, to do that thing today, that gets us closer to the goal tomorrow. It reminds me of Will Smith, writing with Mark Manson, in his memoir Will:

“There is no wall. There are only bricks. Your job is to lay this brick perfectly. Then move on to the next brick. Then lay that brick perfectly. Then the next one. Don’t be worrying about no wall. Your only concern is one brick… 

“The days dragged on, and as much as I hated to admit it, I started to see what he was talking about. When I focused on the wall, the job felt impossible. Never-ending. But when I focused on one brick, everything got easy—I knew I could lay one damn brick well.… 

“As the weeks passed, the bricks mounted, and the hole got just a little bit smaller. I started to see that the difference between a task that feels impossible and a task that feels doable is merely a matter of perspective. Are you paying attention to the wall? Or are you paying attention to the brick?”

“The secret to my success is as boring as it is unsurprising: You show up and you lay another brick.”

Similarly I was listening to a podcast with Shea Serrano and he said that his career arc was just the result of putting one foot another, one step at a time. He likens it to a ladder; you don’t go straight from the bottom to the top, you climb it a rung at a time.

In my particular line of work—non-fiction writing—it’s important to consider, as Rob Fitzpatrick writes in Write Useful Books, “Creating useful nonfiction is a task of manual labor, not genius.” So is editing the book, positioning it, and promoting it

This is music to my ears. For years I get stuck on some version of the narrative that a perfect plan will make everything work—call it paralysis by analysis, strategy syndrome, or whatever else you like.

There are opportunities that are closest to you; the ones that flow through your friends, your family, or that you can find online. You might not know about them yet, but they’re there. Of course you can create opportunities for yourself; but any time spent creating it is not spent experiencing it or exploiting it. If they’re already out there and you’re not tapped out yet, then you should go for it.

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