From collecting stamps to building an app, there is a very good chance you have some side project you are working on. Whether you love your job or not, a good portion of your free time is filled with something you care about. The things is that even though your passion is in it, it can still be difficult and scary to take that side project to the next step when you have the desire to. More likely than not, you don’t because you don’t want to fail. Well, the trick is to treat your side projects like experiments to test the waters and actually make yourself ignore the fear of failure:
Focus on the task at hand, not the end result.
Focus on the process to allow serendipity and personal exploration to take over. Otherwise you might inadvertently alter things with a subjective idea of how you want it to turn out, rather than what would be best for your long-term learnings.
Don’t create your experiment and judge it at the same time.
Creation and judgment are very different thought processes and can interfere with each other, and must be done separately. Experiment with exploring every idea completely first (writing it down, drawing it out, actually trying to do it). Only then move into editing, curating, and judging to get to best version of the idea.
Break the experiment down into the smallest tasks possible.
Then, focus completely on each small task. Only at the end do you tie all those tasks together. This helps you avoid the fear of things being too big or overwhelming to accomplish and lets you slip in your side project around your weekly primary responsibilities.
Remember: these are experiments. Not full-time business ideas.
First figure out how to run the experiment using the least resources as possible. What is the core or essence of your idea that you can prototype quickly? Get that prototype in front of as many people as possible before pursuing it more. Fail fast.
Don’t repeat yourself.
The same experiment can’t have a different result unless you change the variables. If you experiment with an idea and it doesn’t work, you need to change things up or move onto a new idea. There’s no point doing the same experiment over and over, hoping for something different to happen. If you want a different outcome, you have to change your experiment up a little—refocus for a new audience, try a different medium, or try experimenting with a new idea completely.