I’m feeling exceptionally ‘bloggy’ and philosophical, I hope you don’t mind this little story 🙂 It’s going to be VERY rambly, and I might not even publish it right away, but here goes.
Do you remember drawing lessons in primary school? Sometimes the teacher would give us a task, a kind of objective to draw. Other times (s)he would just tell us to “draw whatever we liked”. Although the teacher probably thought (s)he was doing us all a favour by giving us this abundance of choice, I found this type of task to be the hardest to complete. I could draw anything in the world, but what would I draw? Making the choice was taking up so much of my time I usually ended up not completing the drawing at all.
This is only a small example of how freedom can sometimes work counterproductive. If we can do anything we like, we don’t want to be wasting time making wrong decisions. Sometimes we are afraid to make any decisions at all, and want to keep our options open at all times.
The same goes for knitting/crochet WIPs, for example. Let’s say you have a couple of hours to work on any project you like. You’re at home, alone, have all the supplies for all of your projects, so what are you going to work on? Is it your delightfully mindless granny square blanket; those socks you’ve been planning for your mum; that one intricate lace shawl you can only really work on when nobody’s around; or perhaps that new idea that’s been floating in your head? I usually find it exceptionally hard to commit to one project in situations like this, even though I know that only working on 1 project for the day gives me the most progress and thus the most satisfaction.
In most cases, we like a bit of guidance. Those socks for your mum are meant to be a birthday present, and since it’s her birthday next month, better get cracking on those! But without any type of deadline or guidance, we feel a little bit indecisive about what to work on.
I’m secretly hoping you’ll all find this kind of relatable and are not like ‘What the hell is she talking about..?” Because otherwise really, the whole point of this blogpost is lost, haha.
Sometimes we just have a little bit too much freedom, that it can be stifling. I have the same feeling about my Thursdays off. Four days a week I work for a company, but each Thursday I have the day off to work on my own designs, my website, my patterns, my podcast, or ‘whatever I feel like doing’. And while it’s amazing to have this freedom, and to be able to do anything I like for the whole day, it does feel a little bit stifling at times. What if I choose to concentrate on the ‘wrong’ project and waste a lot of time? That’s why I like to do commissions for magazines: it gives me some guidance because it makes my choices for me, and pushes me to have the discipline to finish it in time. It motivates me.
So, I figured, if having a time goal motivates me, why not set them for myself? So each month, I have been setting goals for myself. I talk a little bit more about this in my blogpost on 2018 goals. Monthly goals can be relatively big ones, like “finish project A”, or “publish pattern B”. Then, every week, I set some Thursday goals. Those goals are easier to complete, such as “respond to email C”, or “translate pattern D”.
The tricky part isn’t completing the goals I set for myself. Whatever’s on my list, I’ll do it. Sometimes not entirely within the time slot I set for it, but I do finish it. The hardest part is finding out which goals to set for myself. What pattern do I work on this month? Is it even the right time to publish this pattern, or should I wait a few more weeks? Should I really start working on this crazy new idea or should I complete my old projects instead? I found that lately, because all of my commission projects have been finished, I was very indecisive about what to work on. What would give me the most desirable result?
The truth is, I simply don’t know how well a pattern will be received until I publish it. Sometimes I think a pattern will do really well, but then it kind of flops. The other way around is also true: sometimes I don’t think too much of the pattern I have just completed, and it proves to be the most popular one so far! The key here is to ‘just do it’. Choose one option and go for it. Don’t think about what the outcome will be, don’t be afraid to make the wrong decisions. We all learn the most from making mistakes, right? So why are we all still afraid of making them in the first place? So today, I AM going to work on that crazy new idea. If it works out? Great! If it doesn’t? Even better! Because I will have learned more from things going wrong and making mistakes than if it went perfect the first time.
I’m going to leave in a very cliché fashion – with an inspirational quote! Don’t just Do It Yourself, Do It FOR Yourself.