CROSSING THE FINISH LINE
It’s so much easier to begin a creative project than complete it – but why?
What could be better than starting a brand new make or creative endeavour? Even before you begin, it feels exciting: that little frisson at coming up with an idea, the enthusiasm building as you visualise how it’ll look. Then, there’s the shopping spree. Hitting up your local DIY store, fabric shop or favourite craft website, perusing the options, and picking everything out. There’s something so satisfying about a delivery of squishy yarn, lifting the lid o a fresh tin of paint, or smoothing out new fabric. For me, it evokes that thrill of back-to-school stationery.
On the rst day, I always get stuck straight in, losing track of time as I’m so immersed in what I’m doing. The second day is approached with equal enthusiasm, which slightly wanes as the project goes on. By the third, I’m still committed, but with more of a gritted determination than a love for my work. Anything that takes longer tends to become a chore.
Granted, I consider myself pretty impatient, but I’m not the only one leaving a trail of WIPs (Works In Progress) behind me. Lindsey Newns, the crochet designer behind Lottie and Albert (www.lottieandalbert.blogspot.co.uk), loves the thrill of beginning a project. “Something about the rst starting chain is so relaxing, coupled with the anticipation of having a new thing at the end of the process. On longer projects, however, I almost always lose motivation and have to push myself to complete them.”
Surely the biggest thrill should come with nishing?
Or is starting something really more enjoyable than nishing it? Well, yes and no. Our natural instinct is to go for that instant grati cation, ful lling our inbuilt desire to get what we want, right now. And, while that can seem satisfying, if we adjust our mindset, we can shift our vision to focus on long-term satisfaction and reap even greater rewards. Walter Mischel’s famous psychological experiment tested this back in the sixties and seventies, o ering children the option of one marshmallow now, or – if they could wait 15 minutes – two marshmallows later. I’m pretty con dent I’d cave and eat the one marshmallow, but those who repressed their urges for an instant sugary x showed an ability to focus on the bigger picture.
So, how do you change your perspective? Well, one way is to set small goals throughout the project, breaking it down into manageable elements. Instead of telling yourself you need to nish the never-ending granny square blanket, decide to make just four squares that evening. By working towards something achievable, you’re still getting that buzz of hitting a target, therefore keeping your brain engaged.
The best approach, though, is one that seems to ring true in all aspects of life – enjoy the journey. I’ve learnt that if you only ever focus on the nish line, you might achieve your goals, but you won’t get anywhere near as much out of it. Lindsey agrees: “If I’m not feeling a WIP, I’ll often put it away for months before working on it again. My crafting time is too precious to spend on something that isn’t giving me joy, or worse, is stressing me out because I feel pressure to nish it.” Making should be a pleasure, a process you can lose yourself in. And actually, many people do use it as a mindfulness practice, focusing on each stitch or brush stroke to connect themselves to the present moment. Yes, you’re working towards a bigger end goal, but as you’re choosing to invest your time in it, you should enjoy all aspects of the experience.
Using crafting to connect with your long-term motivation is just the start. Once you have that skill, you can apply it to all areas of your life, enabling you to live in the present while still setting your sights at the bigger picture. Because ultimately, we’re all a work in progress, so why not enjoy ourselves as we piece it all together?