What came before

I have several projects where there’s no end-game. (I’d argue all of my passion projects have no end-game.) The process of doing the creative work is the entire point. Do the thing, because doing the thing is some combination of “I enjoy it”, “I can rationalize the necessary parts I don’t enjoy” and “it’s making the world a better place.”

So you start. You do these trivial first actions, because they’re so stupidly easy, and then you’re working on the task. You’re inside the compound. You’re no longer trying to “get started.” Most of the resistance is gone, it’s clear enough what to do next, and it feels good to continue.

~ David Cain from, https://www.raptitude.com/2023/01/the-right-now-list/

Rest. Reflect. Recalibrate. …was a wonder-filled takeaway from Trust Yourself by Melody Wilding. There was a little diagram of those three in a circle: Rest pointing to Reflect pointing to Recalibrate pointing to Rest. I am forever and ever imagining my projects as some sort of steady-state of affairs. Start the thing and then “just” do the thing. Forever. Forever? No. “What came before?” is, for me, the wrong question. How am I honestly feeling about whatever-it-is right now? That’s right. That just is. That’s how I am today. Okay, what comes next? Do I need to rest, reflect, or recalibrate?



Knowing when to stop

This editing continues until the painting is finished. The criterion for what constitutes a “finished” work is reaching the stage at which you are no longer sure whether applying additional changes makes it better or worse. So there is a real possibility of making things worse than they were by not stopping at the right moment. Incidentally, this is the main argument for taking frequent breaks from your work, even at the risk of interrupting a flow state. Doing so allows you to take a more detached, if not completely objective, look at the current state of your work and thus avoid making costly mistakes.

~ Peter Oshkai from, http://peteroshkai.com/2020/06/04/ways-to-fail/

This is a brilliant way to tell when to stop.

I also believe that stopping while in the flow state is a good way to set oneself up for the next working session. I call it “parking on the hill”—which is a reference to strategically parking one’s car, nose downhill, on a hill so that it can be jump-started using the manual transmission. When stopping a work session, it’s obvious how to pre-position all the physical materials, the space, etc.. But stopping mid-flow also means, in my opinion, your mind is “parked on a hill” as well.