Have you ever been so excited to begin a project and then when the moment comes to start, you have no idea what to do? You’ve gathered the supplies, taken inspiration from various sources, found the time to work, and then you come down with project paralysis. This happens to me when I am so excited for a project that I just want it to be perfect. Perfection is most definitely the enemy of creativity and productivity!
Many of you know that I have been quite enamored with Happy Planner products for the past 8 months or so. I am loving working in my planners, playing with stickers, and the whole aesthetic of the line really speaks to me. Recently, the Happy Planner released new products for Spring 2021, and a brand new guided journal really caught my eye. I found it beautiful and inspiring, and I was immediately filled with ideas on how I would use it. I even paid full price to pick up the journal right away, and I never like to pay full price!
The journal landed on my doorstep in wonderful condition, looking just as beautiful as I had hoped it would. Yet, it laid on my desk for weeks without me opening it. I could blame it on being busy with other projects or family life, but truthfully I was nervous to start! What if the journal didn’t live up to my expectations? Or more accurately, what if I didn’t live up to my own creative expectations? I had dreams of what this project could look like in the end, but what I truly needed to focus on was the process. Crafting is all about the process for me! A process that is about getting in touch with my creativity, releasing stress, and practicing self-care. When I focus too much on the final product, I lose all of that!
Project paralysis strikes us when we lose focus on the real motivation behind a project. Sometimes we are overwhelmed with the scope of a project, and therefore we do not know where to begin. Other times we have a perfect picture in our head of what the project will be, and we aren’t quite sure how to get there. Or, we might know how to get there, but fear that we will mess it up is holding us back. However you look at it, the thought of perfection is a road block on our creative journey. In my case, with my new journal, it felt like a brick wall. My excitement over this journal turned into anxiety, and it was hard to conquer.
When you are overcome with project paralysis there are a few steps you can take to move forward. While it may feel tempting to just put the project to the side or disregard it completely, that does not really address the main root of the problem. You’ve got to go back to the point that made you want to take on the new project in the first place. What was your inspiration? What was your why? For my journaling project, that meant sitting down and flipping through the pages of the journal. I had to remind myself why I found the journal so interesting in the first place and why I wanted to dive into it. I wanted a creative outlet that would be just for me. One with enough guidance in it that it was not a blank page, but enough freedom to allow me to go in any direction at once.
Once you go back to that inspiration point, it is time to map out a new plan of direction. If you are overwhelmed by the scope of a project, only plan one or two next steps. There is no need to map out the full plan, just the next right step. Thinking back to my journaling project, I had to let go of the idea of what it would look like as a completed project and just take one page at a time. One spread, one element, one journaling prompt at a time! Then, eventually it will all come together.
The last step is to let go of perfection. I find this so often in the Bible journaling world, and now also in other creative journaling outlets. I read comments from people online who are so afraid to “mess up” in their Bibles or in their journals that they can’t bring themselves to start. You will mess up, I promise. It is part of being human. In fact, you will probably mess up multiple times! But, you will learn, and you will improve! And, wait for it…..even after that you will still make mistakes! It is going to be okay. Mistakes are made when you are putting yourself out there and growing. It is a part of the process. Recovering from those mistakes and pushing forward will also help you overcome project paralysis in the future, because you have a reference point to look back on to know it’ll all work out.
In the end, I guess I am hoping that this post encourages you to push past your project paralysis. I did…I actually cracked open that brand new journal this week and made a couple of spreads. They aren’t great, but that’s okay. It still felt amazing to get started!
Keep it creative,
-The Scrappy Wife