Little lies we tell ourselves

We set ourselves arbitrary goals. We make blanket statements that will determine the direction of the next few years of our life. We try to simplify & end up making no sense.

Before starting my last job, I clearly remember saying that I would join for two years. I was very specific on the 2 years.

Once I had made that mental decision, I moved on. Didn’t think about it again for a while.

2 months in, whilst having an open, honest conversation with a colleague about whether I enjoyed the work & what my plans for life were, I re-stated my commitment to 2 years at the company.

“But what do you mean? That’s just a number…”

And it struck me that I had just decided, on a whim, to dedicate commit myself to an arbitrary number.

That arbitrary number had been set to simplify a complex goal, a goal of gaining enough experience in product development, in a growing start-up to then start my own company.

So 2 years seemed reasonable.

But it’s a bit silly really. What does ‘2 years’ really mean? I could spend 10 years a in a dead-end job & learn the same amount — if not more — running my own start-up for 3 months.

But it’s pretty hard to quantify ‘experience’. When have you learnt ‘enough’? What type of experiences are you having? What are you learning? What are you not learning? So we set an arbitrary, more easily quantifiable figure on it, like a time period.

‘I’ll start that business once I’ve got 2 years experience. Once I’ve saved €10,000. Once I’ve been promoted.’

When starting a new business, it’s simply impossible to ever have enough experience. To be ready. To have everything under control.

What you are attempting to do is inherently risky, uncertain & unsolved. You start a new business to solve a problem there may not even be a solution for.

The only way to get experience for that is by doing it. Just starting it & seeing where it takes you.

Somewhere within me I knew that my 2-year goal was just a lie for these very reasons. ‘Experience’ & an arbitrary time period were just excuses to mask the fact that I was apprehensions, nervous, scared.

I refused to openly admit to myself that I needed to start taking steps towards working out what my new business would look like. Because without any idea of what you want to do, it’s hard to know where to start.

But you have to just accept that you’ll never feel ready. You’ll never be ready. You can make all the excuses you want, but, at the end of the day, you’ve got to just start.

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Henry Latham

Henry Latham

Founder, Prod MBA

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