It’s always an exciting moment when you finish a project. All the time, effort, energy, late nights, and caffeine consumption have allowed you to reach that final stage. And while making it to the finale is a huge achievement, it’s important that we also enjoy the overall process that helped us reach this major milestone.
Let’s explore this idea a little more.
Time Spent Isn’t Time Wasted
It’s never too late to start a new project. Often, we can feel that we don’t have the time or are maybe too advanced in age to start something new. Too often, society makes us focus on the final product, not the work that goes into making that goal a reality.
I strongly believe that you have to enjoy the process to reach your intended goal. If you struggle and fight against sitting down to write, draw, or learn something new, then getting to the end is a pointless exercise. If you aren’t energized by the creative process needed to reach those major milestones, you won’t be satisfied with yourself once you reach your goal.
On that same note, “the goal doesn’t mean so much once it’s reached; the reward is not so rewarding once it has been given” (111). This sounds like an odd statement, but one that rings true. Once you’ve hit your goal, it’s done. And you can often feel a sense of peace but also emptiness when the goal is achieved, and there’s nothing left to do. I feel this is because all that creative effort and energy has suddenly stopped, and there is nowhere to go now that the project is finished.
This is why it’s so important to enjoy and be excited by the process and not only be obsessed with the end result. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that “[i]f we add up all the rewards in our lives, we won’t have very much. But if we add up the spaces between the rewards, we’ll come up with quite a bit. And if we add up the rewards and the spaces, then we’ll have everything – every minute of the time that we spent. What if we could enjoy it?” (111-112). And we should enjoy it, even when it gets frustrating, and we hit a creative brick wall. In these challenging moments, we hone and fine-tune our skills to help us reach our goals so we can move on to the next project.
There’s a reason why authors like Stephen King and James Patterson are constantly writing and releasing books. It’s because they enjoy the process. They understand that the goal is just part of the overall creative process and that enjoying the writing process is its own reward.
All creative people have their own unique ways of working through the process. Find a methodology that inspires you to get going, helps you become more productive, and truly enjoy the highs and lows that creation brings. It may take time to figure out what makes your creativity hit its peak performance, but once you do, you’ll enjoy the process more, and the end of one project will feed your momentum to begin the next one.
Have You Picked the Right Goal?
In The Tao of Pooh, Hoff writes, “The goal has to be right for us, and it has to be beneficial, in order to ensure a beneficial process” (112). What creative goal will make you the most productive and give you the most enjoyment?
This means that if you set out to work on a major project, you should like what you’re working on before you even start. For example, writing a novel is a big undertaking, requiring months or even years of hard work and commitment. If the idea of working on the same things for months and months doesn’t sound enjoyable to you, then you might want to consider other options.
Now, it may be that the topic needs to be right, or even the format needs to be different for you to retain the focus and energy needed to complete the project, and that’s fine, too. There is no reason why you should be miserable working on something for an extended period if it won’t bring you some positive benefit. A negative process will only lead to negative results.
And you deserve better.
The key here is to find a “beneficial process” that will help you reach your goal in the long run. This is why the goal should be secondary in the grand scheme since it’s a small part at the end of the process.
Take the time to ensure that the project you want to work on will bring you joy and creative benefits so you are motivated to keep going even when things get difficult. Are you benefitting from the process? Make sure you are.
Creativity should excite us, not repel us. The projects we choose must be rewarding and beneficial, not just in the end result but in the overall process.
Find the joy in creating, and once you finish one project, you’ll be excited to start the next.
Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!