Ask TGD 003: The Myth of the “Right Time”

Noah Jacobus asked us via Typeform: How did you reach the decision that it was the right time to launch such an ambitious Kickstarter, that you’d built up your audience base enough, and that it would probably be successful?

Hey, Noah!

Thanks for submitting this question. How do we ever know that it’s the right time to make a leap that will affect our businesses and livelihoods? You asked about our Kickstarter campaign, but this is a question that could apply to any big decision. Perhaps you’re even asking yourself this question right now in regards to something you want to do?

So, how did we know it was the right time to launch a Kickstarter campaign with a six-figure goal? We didn’t. How did we know we had a large enough audience? We didn’t. How did we know it would probably succeed? We didn’t. There were no earth-shattering signs that pointed the way and put us at ease as we took a very big, very public risk. It could have failed completely. And you know what? It was scary, but we did it anyway.

There’s no such thing as the “right time.” This is a myth. If you wait for the right time—whatever that means for you—you will never do that thing you’re wanting to do. The only time we have is now, and we must overcome the obstacles, including our own excuses. We love the humor that interviewee Jon Burgerman, a freelance artist and illustrator, injects into this truthful statement about obstacles: “There are always obstacles and people look for excuses. When you’re young, you have nothing to lose; you’re supposed to be scraping by. That’s the best time to be poor because you don’t need to eat three meals a day and you can survive on eating junk food because you have a great metabolism. Things will be much harder when you’re in your mid–thirties and have responsibilities, cynicism, and a dodgy knee.”

We’re approaching our mid-thirties, and it’s true: we have more responsibilities than ever. It never becomes easier to take risks; it becomes more difficult as Scott Belsky, cofounder of Behance and Adobe’s VP of Products/Community, notes: “One piece of advice is that the opportunity cost of waiting to do what you want to do just goes up. The excuses you tell yourself to wait to try what you have in your mind are wrong. In truth, you will have more responsibility tomorrow than you have today—it’s a fact. You can always find a reason why you should wait, and some are very valid, like having to pay back student loans, but recognize the fact that the opportunity cost goes up, not down.” We knew the “right time” to launch a massive Kickstarter campaign would never arrive, so we decided to just go for it.

Yes, we hoped our audience would support the campaign. Yes, we hoped we’d succeed in meeting our campaign goal. And we did, but it was a white-knuckle ride at certain points, including the last day when we had over $32k to raise with less than 24 hours to go! Ryan wrote about that roller coaster of an experience over on Medium, and you can read it here if you’re interested in a behind-the-scenes look at our campaign.

For us, taking a risk was less of a risk than doing nothing. We had put off projects we wanted to do in the past; we’d put off ideas we wanted to work on together; we’d put off refining and launching what would become The Great Discontent. Why? Because we were waiting for the “right time.” In August 2011, shortly after we launched, Ryan wrote this: “This site is the culmination of years worth of thinking, dreaming, procrastinating, and refining. Tina and I first started talking about creating a magazine revolving around the theme of creativity over five years ago. The process of discussing it, refining it, and then shelving it would happen every several months…always waiting for the ‘right time’ or wishing for the day when we’d have more time. Resistance, as Steven Pressfield calls it in his book, The War of Art, was kicking our asses.”

Don’t let resistance kick your ass. Take Ryan’s advice: “You innately know when something is ready and when it’s not quite there. But when in doubt, just ship it.” That’s what we did—and we hope that’s what you’ll do, too.


Tina (& Ryan, too)


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