The Curse of the Ideal Project

I confess: I have an ideas problem. Not the generation of ideas, oh no. My problem is what to do (or not to do) with them when they arrive.

Like many idealistically-bent people, I tend to like the idea more than the implementation. Why is that?

And it’s true: there is a certain (almost-Platonic) beauty to the Idea. (The idea of idea? #stackoverflow)

You imagine the finished product, and it’s wonderful. Oh, to have given birth to such an incredible x!

And then the tarnishing starts. The corrosive factors of
I don’t have enough time!, and
I don’t know how to do this - maybe I’ll fail!, and
oh, someone’s already made one of those!, and
oh! I’ve just had a great idea for a …

start etching away, and before long the sheen is gone.

Sometimes the tarnish takes longer to take hold than others. A lot of projects might even get started. But it’s rare that a project actually makes it to “finished”, because the inevitable disappointment when the actual fails to meet the Ideal feels too much to bear.

Wouldn’t it be so much nicer, your troll-brain says, if things just stayed as ideas? Why not give yourself the reward for coming up with the idea?

Ko-Ko: When Your Majesty says “Let a thing be done”, it’s as good as done, practically it is done, because Your Majesty’s will is law. Your Majesty says “Kill a gentleman”, and the gentleman is to be killed, consequently that gentleman is as good as dead, practically he is dead, and if he is dead, why not say so?

The Mikado: I see. (Dramatic Pause) Nothing could possibly be more…satisfactory!

The Mikado, Act II.

Only it isn’t satisfactory. Eventually, you’ll end up with a bunch of baby projects you killed at birth - because in the moment you decided Not Creating Anything was better than Creating Something Less than Ideal. And we don’t live in Plato’s universe. An idea is only a shadow without its fulfilment.

Who wants to live in a world of shadows?