Marketing/Business Personal Development

Is Your Effort Worthy?

Seth Godin last post ever is called Is It Worthy?. Ok, it’s not really his last post, but he asks, “What if it was?”

I take so much for granted. Perhaps you do as well. To be here, in this moment, with these resources. To have not just our health but the knowledge and the tools and the infrastructure. What a waste.

If I hadn’t had those breaks, if there weren’t all those people who had sacrificed or helped or just stayed out of my way… what then? Would I even have had a shot at this?

And since you do have a shot, since you are in this privileged position, are you taking advantage of it? Are your efforts worthy? “Is this the best I can do?”

I’m aware of an embarrassingly large number of unworthy efforts on my part. I’ve lived in my new apartment for over six months and still do most of my computing from the living room even though I would have a perfectly good office if I would just finish unpacking it and organize it. Six months of rent money spent, and I never took advantage of having an office I could use. Instead, I had to deal with the open space of the living room that my cats have free access to, and if you have cats, then you know how they only seem to want to be affectionate when you’ve settled in to work on something. Having a door to close would be helpful for keeping focus, and I know it would be a simple matter of cleaning my office. What happened to my efforts there?

I’ve had a website for years, but it was only within the last year that I really dug into my stats and learned just how unknown it is. While my blog may have more readers than other blogs, it is by no means popular. My main website seems to get traffic, but it is mostly accidental and due to the popularity of downloading ROMS for portable games. It took me forever to sign up for an affiliate system that might let me try to convert some of that traffic. Is that effort the best I could have done?

I have beta testers who haven’t had a new release in many weeks, when they could have been busy giving me feedback to improve my game development efforts. My game still has placeholder graphics, and I don’t have specific plans to replace them. When I am working on game development, I only put in a few hours a week at most. With other indies and major development houses releasing about 15 unique games per week on portals plus any other games that don’t make it to the portals, will a few hours a week be enough?

I didn’t post the above section to feel sorry for myself. I am using myself as an example of the kind of things that Godin is talking about, and I hope that within a short amount of time I can look back on this post and say, “I don’t do that anymore.” It’s a public challenge to myself to do better.

The object isn’t to be perfect. The goal isn’t to hold back until you’ve created something beyond reproach. I believe the opposite is true. Our birthright is to fail and to fail often, but to fail in search of something bigger than we can imagine. To do anything else is to waste it all.

How many of your efforts are half-assed? How many things are you half-committed to? Are you taking advantage of your position, or are you taking it for granted?

[tags] business, indie, marketing [/tags]

4 replies on “Is Your Effort Worthy?”

Probably taking it for granted. I’m trying to be more productive, but somehow I’m inherently lazy. Today I can’t even really do my schedule because I woke up too late, and then went over my time reading. While it may be somewhat productive, it’s still not furthering my goals. But maybe tonight i’ll get to bed on time 🙂


Most people are doing things relatively half-assed. Most people are not making the game they truly want to make, or even a game they want to make at all. It’s not necessarily laziness. I think busting your ass on a project that you cannot complete or is not well defined indefinitely is just as bad (or worse) than being lazy. With indie games, being a lone programmer is actually much harder than being a lone artist. A good artist armed with game maker or flash can make a mediocre game that people love (because of cute pixel art or whatever.) It’s much harder for a good programmer to create something appealing with code alone.

In the ideal situation you’d have proven gameplay through a series of fun prototypes, and have a good idea of how to construct your full game so your time working is not wasted and pretty straightforward, but real life is always less than ideal. I think for your projects release early and release often would be a better idea than releasing when its done, especially given their opensource nature.

I think the problem with focusing 100% of your energy and attention on everything you do will quickly lead to burn out. It’s perfectly alright to take a breather and put forth a half-assed effort sometimes . . . just don’t make it a habit . . .

Impossible: One of my projects is open source in nature, and the other is not. The open source one is currently released on Ludum Dare, and I hope to improve it before an official release. The non-open source one is going to be relatively finished before I release it. Perhaps when you take a breather, you also need to do so 100%. Make it ok to step back and stop working once in awhile. Otherwise, it’s not a real break, and you won’t feel rested when you get back to work. How many suits go on vacation but have a tether to their offices through a laptop or a cell phone? That’s not a vacation!

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