#95: Project Fatigue

I’ve worked on many projects over the years, large and small, some exciting and some pretty dull. And not a single one I finished with the same level of enthusiasm that I had when starting out.

One thing that you need to know about me is that I get excited about new ideas. When I get a brilliant new idea, a sudden urge to drop everything that I’m doing takes over. I can’t stop thinking about it and expanding on it. I convince myself that it’s going to be the best thing I’ve ever done. The floodgates open and suddenly, I’m drowning in further ideas. I collect them in my pocket notebook so that I can come back to them in case yet another wave of ideas washes over my mind.

The start of a project is a great time. Everything is new and shiny. The possibilities seem endless. There’s lots to be done, and I can’t wait to jump right in. Like a painter, I start with the broad strokes, laying the foundations for the future piece. In case anything goes wrong, I can always deal with it later.

Depending on the project, this period may last for days, weeks or even months. I am working away until I hit the first stumbling block—something I hadn’t anticipated. I double down and usually figure it out. This may happen several times over until I get truly and utterly stuck. Nothing that I do seems to help. The frustration is mounting. I may come up with some workarounds, but none of them actually solve the problem. So I sit there, watching the perfect ideas unravel right in front of me.

This is it. It can’t be done, I think Perhaps I should’ve thought about all this before I started? Perhaps the idea wasn’t as brilliant as I thought it would be? Perhaps I’m not good enough to do this?

I can either accept the compromise and carry on working or abandon the whole thing and start something new. Something better. And this time, it will totally work out. This new thing definitely won’t have the same issues…

You all know where that leads, and I do too. I have to finish this, so I make the compromises and keep ploughing on. But from now on, it will never be the same. Every time I look at the project, all I can see are the imperfections. Everything that went wrong since that flawless idea appeared in my head. It’s taking longer than I thought it would. It won’t be nearly as good as I thought it would be. It’s just not fun anymore.

In the final stages of a project — almost any project — I just want to be done with it. I’m exhausted and disillusioned by the impurity of it and just want to do something else for a while.

When I finish a project, I feel relief at best. I certainly never get to the same level of excitement that I felt when starting out.

The beginning of a project is like walking down a steep hill. To get home, you will have to climb back up. It isn’t fun, but it’s worth it.

What I Am Reading

I’ve been swamped with things, so I didn’t get a chance to do much reading this week. I advanced about 100 pages in Leonardo da Vinci from Walter Isaacson and read a bunch of short stories by Haruki Murakami which are listed below.

Short Stories

I read the following short stories this week:

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