I just wrapped-up work on my first true art project outside of my 365 skies project, and while it feels great to be on the other side of “done”, it’s only a matter of time before I select another new project with its own unique challenges.
I can’t share much about the details of Project X just yet, but I can share what got me through (spoiler alert: most of it was mindset).
In a nutshell
This project was a gift for a loved one. I was under a tight deadline and was working with a subject (and in a style) with which I don’t have much experience. Finishing was imperative, but early on and throughout the remainder of the project, I realized I was in over my head. What to do, what to do?
1. Know your “why”.
I had a clear reason behind why I started this project (a special gift for a special someone) and that, more than anything else, helped me stay the course. There were times I felt like throwing in the towel, but whenever I felt like giving up, I remembered how important it was to me to be able to give this gift, and that the only way to do so was to press on, which leads me to my next point…
2. Accept what you’ve got to give.
I knew my final product wouldn’t turn out as I had envisioned, but, as I recently wrote about more in depth, I’m the only one who could make the thing that only I can make. In the end, what will matter most is that I made this thing, regardless of whether it turns out as I had hoped. Had I let perfectionism get in the way, I never would have finished.
3. Step away…then keep going.
If you hit a wall, step away and check in with your “why”. When I was at my lowest point during the process, I decided to go for a quick walk to get some perspective and think things through. I decided to share my struggle out loud, hoping that hearing myself talk about why I was feeling so stuck could also help me figure out how to move forward (I recorded these reflections here). When I returned, the problem felt more manageable and I resumed work.
4. Just finish.
I knew if I didn’t finish, I might lose the opportunity to do so in the future, and that this would always haunt me. All I could do was my best and to see Project X to its completion. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to exist. You never know what the future might bring. Don’t let your dreams cloud real action.
We can place a lot of pressure on ourselves when working on projects that are meaningful to us. It’s important to remember the deeper reasons behind why a project is special and let that guide the process more than anything else. The next time you feel like giving up on something that matters deeply to you, check in with yourself to see if you just need a little nudge to remind you of your intention and why you decided to start in the first place. What you do matters, but if you never finish, it will never become more than Project ex.