Thinking hard, or hardly thinking?

“Preparing to Change”

EDIT:  Wooo!  They Might Be Giants retweeted this!

@tmbg retweeted a link to this post!

I was relistening to Glean by They Might Be Giants this weekend.  Like every TMBG album, it grows on you. I was listening to “All the Lazy Boyfriends”, a track I had mostly skipped over before, and paid attention to the lyrics.  One part in particular grabbed me.

All the lazy boyfriends are preparing to change

They’re standing in the kitchen and preparing to change

All the lazy boyfriends are preparing to change

This American splendor spreads out before you

From basements to attics, garages to sheds

Who needs a vacation? Who needs a direction?

Who needs motivation when you live in your head?

While the song seems to be about lazy moochy boyfriends, They Might Be Giants are actually warning us about a common problem: over-preparing to change!

Lots of folks spent a bunch of time and money thinking about the perfect way to start. Sometimes it’s warranted, but usually it isn’t. You probably should spend a bunch of time thinking about expertise once you’re solidly an “actual beginner” stage, rather than “someone who thinks about it a lot.”

I regularly crib Merlin Mann’s line: there’s a tendency to research the best jogging shoes and buy a subscription to Runner’s World, when you should probably first go outside and jog regularly.

Living in your head is comfortable. In your head, it looks just like a featured Pinterest project, but in the real world, you may find out it isn’t quite as easy. In fact, the longer an idea lives in your head without touching the real world, the harder it is to manifest it, because the more you think about it, the grander and more wondrous it becomes. That gap between desire and reality gets bigger and bigger, and it can become paralyzing. (A wiser man than I talked about this in a video called “Brain Crack“. It’s only two minutes long, and definitely worth your time. ) Sure, it’s fun to think about things, but given the explicit choice, I would generally prefer to make something, rather than think about making it.

I’m not immune to this, just because it’s risen to the level of consciousness and I often notice it. I still have this problem. My short-duration personal anti-savior for this is a specific person I met at a hackerspace who regularly discusses a project he’ll get to Real Soon Now that he started thinking about in the early 1980s.

So, fellow meatbags, stop living in your head so much! Stop preparing to change and start changing!

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