Not long ago, I was talking to a relative about the business of writing. This relative maintains a very active social media account, and I told the relative that I thought that maybe there was some potential to turn it into a blogging gig, perhaps even a monetized one to help offset the relative’s tight finances.
The relative hesitated … and I had a pretty good idea why.
“You’re worried about whether you have the energy to see it through.”
“Yes,” the other person admitted. “I’m not sure exactly what my passion is.”
I don’t blame the person. Anytime a person considers a new project, there is this undeniable uncertainty. Can I do this? Do I have the time, energy, and skills necessary to do this? Do I even want to do this?
All great questions. And important ones. I’m someone who says no to a lot of things, in large part out of a desire to maintain healthy life boundaries, so I fully appreciate the value of knowing when to say, “no thanks.” It’s very rare when I regret doing so.
But some things are worth doing … or at least trying. And that second part is really important. Because it’s easy to look at something as either do or do not, rather than try. And with apologies to Yoda, that’s not always the ideal mindset. There are times when it’s perfectly okay to try something.
Which is why I told my relative to think of the writing idea as a test drive. A pilot project.
I do this all the time. In 2016, when my wife and I started the blog Aldi Reviewer, we viewed it strictly as a pilot project. This blog, A Well Advised Life, was the successor to a blog that was very much a test drive. In one case, the blog was very successful and we kept doing it; in the other, we scrapped the site and rebooted it as something else. In both cases, we set a fixed period of time where we would try out the idea, do it as well as we could, and then evaluate if we wanted to go further.
Seeing a new thing as a test drive or pilot project has several benefits.
One, it gives you incentive to take short-term risks — and maybe reap rewards — you might not otherwise take.
Two, it gives you a checkpoint where you can evaluate how things are going.
Three, it helps motivate you to do your best on the project during the time you’re doing it.
Four, it can help take some of the pressure out of feeling like you have to do the thing perfectly.
And, finally, it gives you a guilt-free escape plan if, at the end of the test time, you decide it isn’t for you.
Now, some things don’t always allow for test drives. Some commitments may feel like they’re not easily broken, especially volunteer work where you might feel you’re letting others down. But even then, if you’re not certain, there is nothing wrong with negotiating those expectations at the beginning. “I’m willing to do this,” you might say, “but only as a test drive. After six months have gone by, I may opt out.”
And for things that you’re doing not for others but for yourself, this is a great mindset to give you a little kick to get out there and experiment with life a little bit!
Is there anything you’d like to test drive in your life?