A few weeks ago, for some reason I still cannot fathom, I got the urge to ‘do up’ an old 1950’s kitchen cupboard that belonged to Kristin’s Oma. It’s been sitting in the barn for years gathering dust. At first, I considered asking a local carpenter to sand and paint it, but then I figured I could probably do it myself.
And so, for the last 10 days, I’ve been holed up in the barn in our garden – in between looking after our kiddo and coaching clients and writing and swimming – sanding and sanding and sanding and painting and painting.
I learned quite a few things during this process, mostly about up-cycling furniture (my sister explained to me the other night that this is what it’s called), but also about LIFE in general.
1. The very beginning of making/doing/changing something is always easy. E.A.S.Y. It’s the most exciting part of the ‘journey’. The planning! And the envisioning! And the dreaming! “It’s all going to be SO great and I just can’t wait!”
2. Then comes the bit where you have to start. And this is H.A.R.D. Because you have to (generally) do something you’ve never done/tried before. Or maybe you have done/tried it before, and this time you’re going to do it differently. Starting takes massive effort mostly because your brain is kind of an asshole in times like this and would much rather you sit on the sofa and watch television (so it can go on autopilot) than have to use energy and the cognitive processes required to pluck up the momentum to START.
3. Once you do get started (and sometimes you won’t even get to this stage – you get stuck in 1. and 2.) you feel good. “Look at me, I’ve started! I’m doing it”, you think to yourself. And you revel in being someone who is rather quite awesome.
4. Ugh. This stage is THE WORST. Once you’re beyond the “Look at me, I’m so enthusiastic!” stage, the middle bit begins. This is where you start to get slightly bored or frustrated and wish you hadn’t started at all. The thing you’re making/doing/trying/changing feels overwhelming – the final outcome/result seems so far away. So far away, in fact, that you can’t even see it. You consider quitting. Or you pull off some impressive procrastination moves. Mine included making A LOT of coffee, hoovering, Googling things, FACEBOOK, wandering around the barn looking at other things I could upcycle instead and sweeping up leaves. Most people get stuck in this stage, eventually heading back to the sofa and switching on the television. Forever.
5. If you stick it out and eventually realise you’re massively procrastinating, this next stage involves a second wind. You start to see and realise that you’re actually getting somewhere bit-by-bit and your enthusiasm returns.
6. It then wanes again.
(Re-read stage 4 and 5 for a while, just to get a good feel for stage 6. Preferably about ten times).
7. Once you’re clear of stage 6, you can really SEE results now. And so you become increasingly aware that the thing you’re making/trying/doing/changing is going to end or plateau, and so you dwindle a little. You keep sanding and painting (in my case) the same bit, trying to make it ‘just so’ and perfect. It normally takes someone else to point this out to you, (in my case: “Hey it looks really good, Liz!)” for you to realise that you’re actually being a perfectionist-butthead and you’re good to go.
8. You sand and paint some more anyway, “If only I could get that bit right. Then it’ll be done!”
9. You realise this behaviour is getting you nowhere.
10. You realise you really are good to go (in my case: Shouting “ICH BIN FERTIG and marching out of the barn) even though, deep down, you’re not that sure if you ARE actually good to go and you seriously start to doubt yourself.
11. You finish up/press send/hang the cupboard/whatever the end looks like for you.
12. A few days later, you marvel at what you did/made/tried/changed – realising fully for the first time just how fucking good it feels to do/make/try/change things. To really stick at it. To bend your head with new knowledge and experiences. Testing yourself. Saying hello to procrastination and perfectionism and fear and uncertainty and starting and doing it anyway.
I’m glad I started. BECAUSE LOOK HOW AWESOME MY CUPBOARD IS!
What is it you want to start – that you haven’t, or have, but keep giving up on?