Existential Friday Newsletter

v55: What it means to ship

Dunedin Florida Honeymoon Island

I’ve been writing these weekly posts for the past year or so. Each post takes between 3 and 5 hours to complete. That time doesn’t include the internet wandering that becomes Miscellany because that’s a little more organic. If you do the math (and I have), 3 to 5 hours a week means I’ve probably spent between 160 and 250 hours writing them in the past year.

Even though the posts take a few hours a week, they have value. In some ways the value is in finding more mental clarity through writing, but the big value is different. Seth Godin would call it shipping. When you set out to create something on a regular basis and then complete it, you ship. Shipping is having an idea, taking the time to bring it to fruition, and then releasing it out into the world.

Shipping is hard and it’s scary. It’s hard because it requires you to make decisions about what you focus on. It’s scary because releasing anything into the world comes with the fear that people might not like it. Hard and scary can become natural reasons not to create or to create and then not ship.

At the same time, shipping has value. When we ship a project, it reinforces our relationship with that thing. It helps us believe that we listen to ourselves and do things we believe in. Shipping also acts as a form of practice and allows us to get better.

Shipping creates forward momentum. When we do something on a regular basis we make progress. It’s easy to look around at all the great things other people have accomplished and feel unworthy, but all accomplishments take time and are a function of little wins along the way. Shipping on a regular basis creates those little wins even though some days it won’t feel that way.

One of the interesting aspects of shipping is that it requires us to make decisions about what we ship. Since time is scarce, creating and shipping one thing necessarily implies other things won’t ship. For all the beauty we find in completing and shipping, it involves a decision not to make something else. In the case of these weekly posts, it’s 3-5 hours of weekly progress on some other project.

Lately I’ve been thinking about alternative ways to ship and we’ll pick up that discussion next week.


This post on Absolute vs. Relative Success is a good read.

If you have cats, you know they’d love this.

This Tim Holman speech on generative art is highly entertaining. Check it out when you have some time . . .

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