Recently, I had a reminder that overall, a lot of things just don’t get done.
It’s rarely a conspicuous lack of a thing getting done that reminds me — instead, it’s the surprised, positive reaction from people when things do get done. We simply couldn’t muster such shock and joy if most things just… got finished.
It’s easy to assume that other people get stuff done. Certainly people finish stuff at work, do taxes, and fill out medical forms. But outside that — keeping up with friends and colleagues, participating in clubs and sports, or working on side projects — it’s tough to tell. You see each of your own failures, and mostly hear about other people’s successes. So it’s easy to imagine that you’re worse than average at doing stuff.
But we all forget to send emails and to look things up. We all fail to keep in touch with friends who we meant to stay connected with. It may seem too late to send a greeting, or to finish something you said you’d get done. It may seem like you just haven’t done enough yet. At any rate, it would feel embarrassing to send it now.
Fortunately though, these rare reminders about how bad we all are can teach us a powerful lesson, which is that late, half-baked crap is more than people expect.
All you need to do is beat the world’s low expectations
The easy way out of these situations is to not do anything. Just put it down and don’t think about it. As long as it’s not work, taxes, or health stuff, the problem will usually just go away. So that’s what most of us do. Nothing. And that’s most of us expect, too. Nothing.
But nothing is only what it looks like. Most people actually do get started. We do take the first steps toward finishing stuff. Maybe just a bit late, or something makes us put it aside incomplete. Then life happens, time passes, and embarrassment keeps us silent. So it looks like nothing got done at all.
So no one expects anything of you. Which is great news!
Because you probably have a pile of late, half-baked crap lying around. Stuff you meant to do a long time ago, or that just needs a little more work. You occasionally remember it and cringe, thinking it’s too late now. False. It’s time to send it off — just apologise if you’ve gotta. Set aside the prideful embarrassment for a moment and think about this:
They aren’t expecting anything from you — or anyone
If it’s so late that you feel embarrassed about sending it, the person has probably forgotten about it, or moved on. They’re not expecting anything now, so this is unexpected gravy. You may just make their day. They won’t be angry that you’re late, or didn’t do enough, they’ll be glad that you did something. The vast majority of people can’t manage that. Your late, half-baked crap may even amaze them.
No matter what, it’s better than nothing.