Lately I have been thinking a lot about my “new work.” I have been reading some articles about work habits and personality traits of creative types, and following some excellent blogs. I think I am looking for clues to help me get used to the different pace, and maybe figure out how this all might make sense.
Because I am doing so many new activities, and am trying to get quite a lot done, it has been difficult to know what is the best thing to be doing at a given time. And is it really okay for work to feel so fun? And when should I stop working? And what should I do when I am not working? And is there a better way for me to learn some new tricks besides trial and error? A lot going on up in the old noodle.
Juggling multiple projects, even fun ones, is hard. Sizing the new Rivulet Shrug pattern REALLY is hurting my brain, although I kind of enjoy it at the same time. I am learning a lot. I love novelty and the unknown, yet I feel a little queasy when I admit to myself that I don’t quite have the pattern all worked out yet. There is no “powering through” this design, in fact, I decided today is an official “day off” and I am going to try not to do any work, so that I can come back to a few important tasks tomorrow and hope to be more effective.
With the designing, and working on a new business model for my yarn repping, I am working right past the edge of my comfort zone, the place where I feel like I have paid my dues, put in my 10,000 hours
, and know what is supposed to come next. In my old sales job, I knew from experience what I should or could
be doing to get the results I wanted. Now, not so much. Some things are taking longer than I would like. And a very strong and surprising sense of perfectionism is making itself felt, in the form of really worrying about the Rivulet Shrug design. It was hard to get started with it (since I don’t love shrugs) and I struggled with every aspect–stitch pattern, construction method, writing clear enough instructions–all the while, ruminating over whether I would get it done in time, and once it was done, what if it sucked? A lot of unhelpful worrying that didn’t feel good at all. I did not have much confidence in the success of this project until I saw it modeled by a person who looked great in it. I will post pictures once it is published. What a relief to see the garment look good on someone, and several people have said they liked it and would wear it “in real life.” I don’t consider it a masterpiece, but I do feel more satisfied that it seems to work as a design. I am still working on it, and still worrying, now that a test knitter will be trying to walk the path I lay out for her.
What is really strange is my assumption that I should be able to do something perfectly on the first try. Or that if my first effort is not the most fantastic thing ever, that it is the end of the world. Really, what would be so bad if the design (or whatever I am trying, especially if it is for the first time) didn’t work? My mom reminded me that I always felt like I had to know everything. Kind of a strange contradiction–the person who says she loves the unknown but feels uncomfortable if she doesn’t already know something. I guess the lesson I will take from all of this is to give myself a break if it doesn’t always feel terrific as I keep tackling new challenges and exploring new ideas.
When I was a little kid, in first grade maybe, I became conscious that I was one of the people who regularly got gold stars on homework assignments. I have a visual memory of being a very small person, and looking out of those eyes at the paper with the star and a nice little note “Excellent Work!” from the teacher. I think it felt good to get those, but I also felt anxious. What if one time I didn’t get the sticker or the “Great Job!” or even the check mark? Also, the schoolwork was usually pretty easy for me, and sometimes it felt like it was weird to have a big deal made of something that did not feel like such hard work. So I thought it was funny when I noticed these two gold stars that are hanging in my house. I think I will use them as a reminder that work does not always have to be so grueling, and that I am doing good work by trying new things, even if I don’t get perfect results on the first try.