CROSS­ING THE FIN­ISH LINE

In the Moment - - Creating - Words: Yvette Streeter / Illustration: Mi­randa Sofro­niou

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?

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