Without counting it out, try to guess in your head how many app ideas you have written down. Or, better yet - how does your
~Documents/Side Projects folder look these days? Lots of Xcode projects awaiting your attention?
Lately, I’ve started to realize that many things I’d love to make, will never be made. I think this is a result from being overinspired.
The weird thing about being a human today is that we’re dealing with an unprecedented amount of information. No surprise there, certainly. But among that corpus of inputs is an incredible amount of inspiration and success stories.
I’ve started to wonder - am I ingesting too much of a good thing? Do I really need to read another “X person does Y thing and app makes Z dollars?”
To be clear, good for them! They should be proud of all of their accomplishments. Certainly, I’ve made no qualms about being proud of my own (and nor should you!). Yeah, we get it, Spend Stack was acquired like a bajillion years ago. Yet, you can still see that I prominently display that fact on my blog search page. Why? Because I’m proud of it.
The thing is, I’m addicted to seeing everyone’s new app, latest blog post, newest Apple A.P.I., the swankiest U.I. trend, and (fill in the blank). I love all of it. But there has been a downside to all of this, at least for me.
Overinspired: Signs and Symptoms
I’ve started to realize that maybe I just need less of this kind of information. Less podcasts, blogs, a giant folder of apps on my homescreen to emulate, Dribbble, Pinterest boards of UI/UX, etc.
Why? Because I just can’t help myself!
If I read another success story, I have to analyze why “the thing” worked.
If I listen to another podcast, I have to write down why a launch was unsuccessful for fear of repeating the same mistakes.
If I see another beautiful design, I have to store it away to view later.
This problem even extends to reading books, I religiously capture each highlight I come across. Sometimes, this comes at the expense of simply enjoying the book.
What I’m left with lately is a mind that is simply trying to process too much information. Basically, my brain is on Intel, and the world has moved to M2 Pro.
Yet, I truly believe that this is wonderful problem to have! Gone are the days of endlessly searching for any inspiration, yearning to find a like-minded community or talented peers. It’s just that now, it’s too easy! And if you’re like me, it’s all become too much.
I do know some folks to which this problem doesn’t apply. They live on the fire hose of information, and to be honest - it seems good for them to have so many creative inputs. But my personality is too rigid - I don’t keep tabs open, I strictly follow my Things 3 checklist for work, I never leave a Slack message unattended to, I store anything I find to revisit…I could….go on. And for an embarrassingly long time.
I used to think that this was a simple limitation to my personality traits, but now, I simply leverage it. I can become overinspired, and the result is confusion, lack of creative focus, and too many directions I could take things.
So, how have I combat overinspiration? These days, I just really dig into maybe one, or possibly two, of ya’lls gorgeous apps to get U.I. inspiration from. I just want to read one of your success stories and take a lesson from it. I just want to go through one podcast at a time, and really sit with all of the lessons that are found within them.
Everyone is so talented, and everyone does such great work - but I’ve learned that not all of it needs to apply to the things I’m doing.
When I became honest with the fact that I can’t feasibly ingest a lot, I started to (paradoxically) become more focused with my side project work. The less inputs I externally consumed, the narrower my creative outlets became - the more I was able to stop pulling in from the outside and instead push forward my own creative endeavors.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of joy. Kind of random, I know. Though, when I stop and look at the graveyard of apps I’ve started, or SaaS projects I’ve yearned to get to market that I haven’t - I eye them with a bit more levity than I used to. Heretofore, surveying the vast field of half written apps or dust covered .xcodeproject files used to only remind me of what might have been.
But, it’s a irrational thought process to entertain. Is there really some sort of alternate universe where I did all of these things? Would I even want 1,234,343 successful apps!? I don’t think so.
We all have our “box” we need to fill up, but the truth is that if we become super efficient and get more done, we will just figure out we can fill even more into that box than we previously thought. There is no limit.
When I look at things like from this angle, I slowly but surely begin to appreciate the things I’ve done more. Perhaps, more importantly, it really makes me consider the things I actually, truly, want to do next, too. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I don’t have as much drive, or - more optimistically, hopefully I’ve grown wiser since becoming a parent, a husband and learning all of the lessons that more time on this earth dishes out to you.
I’ve simply made peace with a simple fact that has really made my stress levels and unrealistic expectations virtually vanish: I should only make things that truly bring me joy. I just love being happy (who knew!), and making things that make me happy, as it turns out, is a healthy practice to pick up.
The great thing about this is, joy is malleable. It can be produced from so many motivations. Maybe joy looks like shipping that app that you think can make the most money, but isn’t exactly a creative masterpiece. I’m actually doing this right now with a basketball/whiteboard/play maker app.
On the other side, the one app that most people probably want from me is the habit/journal/feely-feel good app I made for myself:
While that app does bring me joy, certainly - it was, after all, made for that…the thing that brings me most joy right now is scratching a business-y itch of all things. I see this hole in a market, could I fill it? That’s an exciting question for me to answer! And so, I’m answering it.
Is this making any sense? I might be veering into rambling territory, so I digress. Folks, you can’t make every app you want. It’s a fool’s errand. Make the one that makes you happy.
Perhaps you’ve become overinspired lately. Try to cut down your creative inputs, and then narrow down your focus to things that only directly apply to what you’re trying to build or goal you’re trying to reach.
Even if you haven’t, and you’re one of those unicorns that can wrangle all of the stuff from our talented community - remember that even you will never ship all of your ideas. You just can’t! You probably have too many awesome ones 😉.
Instead of that being a burden you carry, let it be the blessing that it is! You can be more precise with your time and expectations, surgically choosing what gets to have your focus.
Until next time ✌️