Monday, January 16, 2017

My Problem: Doing The Thing

What my actual problem was, was finally realized after years of not understanding the source. I realized it while decluttering and doing home organization, perhaps ten years ago. Before I explain my problem, I will lead you through some other problems.

I used to thing the problem was not having enough time. In American culture we have accepted the notion that there is never enough time in the day to do all we want to do. This is solved by one of two approaches, which are told to us in many self-help books. So many books repeat the same message. Free of charge I will summarize this for you:

If you become more organized you will find more time in the day. Specifically if you use a planner and plot out a schedule you will suddenly find more time. This is not necessarily true if you don't stick to the calendar strictly.

If you learn to prioritize your tasks and duties you will put the time to what is most important to you. (This is somewhat flawed because some of us with certain life obligations and responsibilities do spend time appropriately reacting to things that happen during a day, instead of always having full control of every single thing we have to spend time doing.)

We must learn to learn to say no when people ask us to do things that are not our own priority, to take items off your priority list if they are not "good enough" or are not in alignment with you goals and priorities.

We need to learn to do less in order to try to do more of what we want to do.  Along with this, one must learn to redefine success and to learn to be content with getting done what you defined you wanted to get done. You have to let go and accept that you are really not going to do all that you wish you could because, well, there is just not enough time in the day. Meaning, if you have stated your goal is to get better at photography, and you are choosing to let go of learning to sew clothes with a machine, that when you do have success at photography (whatever success means to you that you must define) then you can't sit and stew about not having mastered sewing. You have to discipline yourself to measure contentment (a better word than happiness) -- to measure contentment in alignment with your intentional goal. You have to keep your overachiever self in check. 

So in my life I have already gone through all the above thought processes many times, readjusting my life goals and priorities on an almost constant basis throughout the year. I am not into New Year's resolutions. But I still had some issues and did not know what my problem was.

Basically my problem was discovered while decluttering. I am a pack rat and have been actively trying to not be a packrat for perhaps 15 years. I have come a long way. But I keep repeating certain behaviors and winding up feeling unfulfilled. This is the flawed cycle I go through:

1. Get curious and learn about something. This means prior projects I am capable to doing are pushed to the back burner. 

2. Gather materials and buy things to learn and then to do the thing. Example: how to sew, buy a sewing machine, buy fabric, buy thread. The shopping becomes a hunter and gatherer type activity. More time can be spent if trying to bargain hunt.

3. Feel stuck due to not owning necessary things, so buy more of #2. This is a trap in books when they list necessary materials but in reality only 1/3 of those items are truly needed for beginner projects. 

4. Feel tempted by optional extra things, as the more difficult or more involved projects seem better to aim for, so buy more accessories and extra things before I sometimes even try the basic project.

5. Don't start doing the project but keep learning more beyond the basic by reading or watching videos. 

6. After #5 repeat #2 and #4. 

7. Never start the project. Keep the stuff. Or try it once, abandon it, but keep the stuff. 

If I don't buy the items I think I need I can get stuck in a negative thinking cycle being angry that I cannot afford what I need to do it. I can get on this bad track which ruins my muse and then I don't do any of the creative projects that I already own the things for and that I already know how to do.

***Then when I am ready to start I don't actually start but get curious about something else. This may have its root in perfectionism.**

Big Revelation

Another major issue is the time it takes to master a skill is plodding work, repetitive work, or involves multiple or many attempts with imperfection so it can be discouraging to face that daily or time after time, so the project is either never started or given up on.Then I move not I thinking about some new thing that maybe will be better for me. But with many art endeavors the sill needs practice to get better. So the base problem is still there. Most endeavors need lots of failed attempts to learn and grow, not all are fast learns. Or easy. 

So my main problem with self-directed autodidact projects is that I get stuck in the gathering of supplies and learning stage then never do the thing or give up too quickly. 

It is easy to let basic real life take over my time and not dedicate time in my daily schedule to do the self-directed projects that don't have deadlines. This is why taking college classes has helped me both learn and produce. I wake up early to get to class even when I want to sleep, I go to class even when sick. I make art when sick.I push away house cleaning and cooking in order to meet a deadline. I don't do any of those things with self-directed deadlines. 

Perfectionism can also be a stumbling block. It is easier for me to finish a school assignment on time that's less than perfect but with a self-directed project I can be mad it's not perfect and just procrastinate on fixing it and get stuck in a rut as I contemplate getting back to it again. And I'm not starting anything else in the meantime. 

Over winter break I was reorganizing my art and craft studio. I had to face all the supplies stored for never tried projects or things I wish I could do that I own the supplies but never put the time to doing.  

I have set my priotrities but I'm frugal and have not let go of the supplies for projects I have not put any effort toward doing for years. I still own fabric intended for pajama pants for my son. I think he was six when I bought that fabric and made three pairs. That was ten years ago. I hated the he process  so why am I keeping in the fabric? 

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