Have you ever come up with a new idea that you were really enthusiastic about, but then had a moment of doubt and wondered: Is this really a good idea? Created something new that was very different from your usual work and had second thoughts about sharing it? Or wondered if your work was good enough to be successful?
I know I have. And I know how it can hold me back. Too often, I’ve abandoned ideas that excited me because I feared they were too different or I wasn't sure if they would work out and was afraid to take the risk. Or I created a new work that struck a chord with me, but I wasn’t sure if my attachment was just an emotional one related to the experience or if it was, indeed, something sort of interesting.
Bouncing ideas off someone else or sharing our work with them is one way to gain additional insight, but finding the right person to do that with, especially if we work independently, can be a challenge. Sharing it with a small group of other like-minded individuals can be helpful, too. That’s why there are critique groups, writer’s circles and workshops. But those venues may not be available in our moment of doubt. Besides, it still comes down to what we believe about our own work. We must find the confidence to either move forward with or abandon our ideas and work.
When it comes right down to it, wondering if something is good enough isn’t even a very productive thing to ponder. What does good mean, anyhow? Where does good fall along a continuum of terrible to terrific? And is good good enough? Too often we deem something not good enough when really all we need to do is address some element that’s not working as well as we'd like—not toss the idea or work out altogether.
So instead of asking ourselves if our work is good, perhaps we should ask other questions instead. Here are a few possibilities. I'm sure you can come up with others that better suit your own work:
- Is it useful or meaningful?
- Is there something new or unique about the idea or work that is worth exploring?
- Does it reflect our way of seeing, thinking or feeling?
- Does it communicate our intent?
An even more constructive way to evaluate our work might be to ask the following:
- What do we like about it? What does it have going for it?
- What potential does it have?
- What concerns do we have about it?
- And how might we address those concerns?
The other piece of this, of course, is learning to take risks and to think of things that don't work out as an essential part of the learning curve. Is there an idea that maybe you need to revisit with a different mindset?