Working through the middle of a project

 I’m one of those people who tends to jump right into a project with a lot of enthusiasm, hard work and big ideas. But also, with not enough planning and thinking through it. This leads most often than not to be completely burned out half way through the process, bringing depression, self doubts and the lot.
I had already recognised a few years ago, that short term projects do work best for me as the initial momentum is enough to get me to the end; we are talking monthly commitments tops. Although, even in those instances, sometimes my interest shifts after a few days or weeks.
I guess it is totally normal to feel like this at times, but I felt the need to dig a big deeper and figure out why this happens.
I recently started listening to some podcasts while driving back home after my morning school run, and a few weeks back I came across the Creative Pep Talks by Andy J. Miller. In one of the episodes (sorry couldn’t figure out which one was) he talked about the some of the key factors one should have to accomplish anything. And apart from familiar terms, like skills, planning, etc. the phrase the most resonated with me was “knowing the whys”. Knowing why you are doing some particular project, why you are committing to this particular job, why you do things the way you do it.
It is not always easy to answer, at least in my case, but asking oneself the question at the beginning of a project (and maybe writing it down) I think will help keeping in mind the end goal, and will serve as a motivation to get through the hard part of it.
When I started my #100daysofleaves, the idea was to, and I quote, “commit to something just for fun”. Well, the fun ended about half way through it, when I realised there were other things I wanted to do and spend time on. The motivation, the why, behind starting this project was not strong enough and not well thought to keep me afloat during the dry spell. We are now on day 64 out of 100, and I just posted on Instagram my group picture for the past 4 days….
Clearly I feel like there is no point in carrying on with this project, yet my tendency to self destruction and stubbornness is keeping me from leaving it.
I also feel that the failure for not keeping it up is equally depressing that the failure for doing a bad job. So there’s no win here.
However, finding new motivations, creating new goals and actually shifting the why of this commitment from “doing something just for fun” to “create something good everyday”, or “make a small leaf painting everyday”, could bring the spark back and help me reach the end in a much better state than I feel right now.
What keeps you motivated throughout a project? Any tips you want to share?

A project a month

Every year, around December time, I start thinking about the following year goals and expectations. I start making lists of thinks I would like to accomplish, plans I would love to follow and specific goals to achieve. Unfortunately, only on rare occasions I have been able to stick to my plans (like that year I decided to enter a painting competition). But this year, something changed. I didn’t make any plans, if not very bold ones, and somehow I managed to do a lot more than expected. How did I do that? I discovered the beauty and easiness of monthly projects.

My first ever one was 30 days of lists, back in March. I discovered it on twitter, and didn’t know what it was exactly until I signed up for it. But as soon as I did, it was love at first sight! Then an online 4-week sketching class followed in April/May, the phone photography project from BPC kept me occupied in July, 30 days of lists started again in September, October was the month of a doodle aday, 30 grateful days from Paper Issues is still going on in November and next month I will be joining the December edition of 30 days of lists.

The best part of these monthly projects is that they involve as much time and effort as you feel like. You can choose to do them at your own pace, or put some work in every day. It has been a very rewarding process for me. I’m one of those persons who lose interest with time and long term projects are not really for me (although I also joined a yearly project this year and still keeping up with it!). The other good thing is that there are millions of monthly project to choose from, covering photography, art, scrapbooking, crafting, just search on twitter, instagram, flickr and so on. These are mainly free, although for some you have to pay to join. And if you can’t find anything interesting, you can still make up your own monthly challenge. Just make sure you share it publicly, as this is the best way to keep up with anything.  I love the feeling of community each project creates; you get to share your work and see others’, make online friends and get inspired by them. And by the end of the year you are left with something tangible to enjoy.
Surely I will try it again next year, maybe with a bit more structure and planning that it was in 2013.