Creating legacy in the garage phase

‘After all, in private we’re all misfits.’  Lily Tomlin

What is the garage phase?

The ‘garage phase’ is the term I use to describe the period of incubation of a legacy project. It is the stretch of time during which you are working on your legacy project but are not making it publicly accessible.

I use the term ‘garage’ simply because many start-up businesses started in someone’s garage, and the garage strikes me as an adequate metaphor for the type of spaces that make good legacy project HQs at the beginning of a project. But of course, depending on your legacy project, your ‘garage’ might be the kitchen table, a park bench, or your office desk at work during lunch hour.

How long will be garage phase be?

The length of the garage phase varies from project to project. I’ve kept this blog, for example, in the ‘garage phase’ for about two months before posting my first entry. The two months were used generating ideas for blog posts, researching materials, observing the way in which other bloggers interacted with their readers, and developing my own blogging style.

My creative writing project, on the other hand, is likely to remain in the garage phase for at least another year, as it is of a much bigger scale and requires me to develop a wide variety of skills almost from scratch.

The garage phase as a period of experimentation

The garage phase should in theory be really enjoyable, because it allows you to experiment wildly with your legacy project, without any fear of negative feedback from the outside world.

And yet, with my first legacy projects I unfortunately only appreciated the enjoyable aspects of the garage phase only after exiting it. While in the middle of the garage phase, I’d be really impatient to make my project public and test things out in the real world.  The garage phase felt too much like wild speculations at times, without the means to have my ideas validated by a ‘real world’ audience.

I’ve since learned to enjoy the garage phase a whole lot more, even though the impatience to get my project out into the world is still there to some degree. In particular, what I now enjoy most about the garage phase is the ability to fail time and time again, without any real-world consequences other than the knowledge that these failures will ultimately improve the quality of my legacy project when I do eventually take it out of the garage phase.

Exiting the garage phase

One word of caution: I do know people who never dare to take their legacy projects out of the garage phase. I think you can easily guess why this is the case: taking your project out of the garage phase makes you feel vulnerable and open to outside criticism. Don’t let your fear of vulnerability become a barrier to your legacy project gaining the feedback and recognition it deserves.

Take your time and enjoy the garage phase, but do remember that it is what happens afterwards with your legacy project that will really enable you to create legacy. Be bold and share your legacy project with the world, once you are happy that it is as good as you can get it to be at this stage.

What about you?

Have you ever experienced the garage phase? What was the experience like? What are you most apprehensive about in relation to this phase? I’d love it if you would consider sharing your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

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Alexa Ispas

I am a social entrepreneur, blogger, and talent scout, interested in helping people who want to create legacy. I have recently completed my PhD thesis in social psychology at the University of Edinburgh, and am originally from Romania. I am writing a daily blog on creating legacy, which you can find at