“Don’t worry, this will be the worst thing you ever do.”

That’s what I tell myself when I start something for the first time. When I was making my first record, I would often say to myself, “Don’t worry, this will be the worst record you’ll ever make.”

At first blush, it sounds defeatist and self-deprecating. But if you step back, you’ll see the optimistic edge on it. The Magic Eye version of that statement is, “Every record I make after this one will be better than the last.”

I’ve used it many times since. My first infographic? “This will be the worst infographic I’ll ever make. Let’s get it out of the way, so I can move on to a better one.” My first day at dance class? “I will never again be as bad as I am today. Bring it.”

quote attributed to Santayana; print by Kavan & Co and available at Society6

quote attributed to George Santayana; print by Kavan & Co and available at Society6

Every time you start something new, you will be at your personal lowest level of achievement.

And that is a very good thing. The first time you try something, you’re on training wheels. And you’ve got to push through it, just to get to the next time. Embrace the fact that Future You will be miles ahead of where you are today. (Another great mantra: “If you’re not embarrassed three years later, you’re doing it wrong.”)

The trick, of course, is to not let it become a defeatist, self-deprecating statement. Instead, it needs to be a battle cry, a challenge, or a promise (whichever is most motivating to you).

And the number one rule is this: Do Not Let It Prevent You From Shipping.

The fact that years from now you’ll look back and cringe is not a reason to not put it out into the world now. That is, in fact, the only way to become that highly embarrassed but totally awesome person in the future.

Do you have a similar “growth mindset” mantra you use to get through the early phases of a project?

Posted by & filed under The Good LIfe.


  1. Tania

    I love this (and the graphic and your record)! I like to say “get to the pot of gold on the other side of awkward” or “there is no map” or “if it’s uncomfortable it means you’re growing.” The trick for me was to learn to recognize my moment of shrinking back and then reframe it.

    • Hannah Kane

      “The moment of shrinking back” is such a great phrase. Thanks for that, Tania!

  2. pdxknitterati/michele

    Wait, your first record? Does this mean there is more than one?

    I don’t know that I’m growth minded, but I do know that I’ll try most things at least once. Because how do you know if you’ll like it without trying? And if it’s something I like, I keep fussing with it to make it just the way I want.

  3. Sarah

    I tell my students they’ve reached their learning edge, an uncomfortable place just before they feel the synapses fire as everything snaps into focus and their worldview is forever altered by a new understanding.


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