I got my mark for my uni assignment (thing 8) on Monday and to say I was surprised was an understatement. It was a lot better than I had expected, especially after having done so much of it at the last minute. I was glad that the lecturer commented on my hand-drawn picture that I had spent countless hours fretting over and that I got some recognition for the work I’d put into that. Her feedback on my writing was a huge confidence boost and makes me think maybe I can get through this. It has also inspired me to strive for a better mark than a pass for the next assignment. So much for “done is good enough”. I doubt I will ever believe that.
At least the next assignment is going to be about something that relates to my work, and it might make a difference at work—which is the point of doing the course—so I might struggle a bit less with it.
We had an online seminar this week to make up for not having the face to face workshop that was supposed to have been this week, and we have three more of those lined up in June. I’ve missed the interaction with the other students and the discussions we were able to have at previous workshops. But we are not in that world any more, so we have to adapt.
After deciding not to watch any more videos from the Photoshop course (thing 7) until I’d done some of the work, I did precisely nothing this week.
No. I lie.
I found out how to import gradients into Photoshop and I imported some of them from the course material.
Did I use them? No.
Let us assume I am relatively competent at my uni course. The material doesn’t scare me as much as overwhelm me with its sheer volume. While I am unfamiliar with some of the concepts, the framework in which they are presented is one that I have worked in for 20 years, so it’s all variations on a theme rather than a completely new mindset to learn. It’s intense but it’s not a world that is very far outside my comfort zone. I can do this work.
Photoshop, on the other hand, is a new world for me. I’ve dabbled in it for years doing very basic photo adjustments and refining my mad cloning skills, but I have never attempted to create an artwork using its tools. Actually, come to think of it, I have never really attempted to create any artwork anywhere, ever. A few dodgy paintings here and there that I didn’t enjoy making. Some line drawings that I enjoyed rather a lot more. I don’t consider myself an artist (that’s a rabbit hole for another day) so making art is not something I am comfortable doing or saying I’m doing. Yet clearly I want to, or why did I sign up to this course?
I am procrastinating on this big time. Why?
Unlike the uni course, this is all new and scary. Even though I want to do it, I am terrified, because I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m scared of making a mistake.
I learned a bit about procrastination last week. One of the reasons we procrastinate is fear, which provokes the fight/flight/freeze response from our brains. It doesn’t matter that the “danger” isn’t real. It’s not a bear chasing me that I have to get away from, but my brain perceives the thing it has labelled as a threat in exactly the same way and wants to respond in the same way it would respond to a bear—by getting away from it.
Isn’t that hilarious? I am so terrified of making a mistake in a skill that I’m only just learning and that has the easiest mistake erasing tool of all, the undo command, that I will do anything to avoid doing it.
Now you know, and I know, that when you are learning a new skill, you make mistakes precisely because you don’t know how to do it yet. You are learning. I am in constant admiration of Kramstable, who is taking art at school and is giving his all to learn techniques that he has never used before, experimenting and learning from what he’s been doing.
And at the other end of the scale, even when you’ve mastered a skill, you’re still not immune from mistakes. Look at the current Masterchef contestants who, despite many years experience in the industry, still manage to overlook fish, undercook rice and forget to add salt.
It’s totally a mindset thing, right?
So, how do we overcome this? I’ve seen a few strategies suggested to overcome procrastination. One I really like is the idea of starting covertly so your brain doesn’t know what you’re doing and doesn’t have the chance to invoke the fear response. That is, you say, “I’m just going to turn the computer on”; “I’m just going to write the first sentence”; “I’m just going to open up a photo and look at it”. What’s supposed to happen is that this tiny step leads you on to keep going and before you know it you’re doing the work and your brain has no idea it was supposed to be scared of that activity.
I’m sure my brain knows, when I say “I’m just going to write one sentence” that isn’t all I’m going to do, just as it knows that I can’t learn a new skill without making a few (a lot of) mistakes, so I’m not sure how this is supposed to work. My challenge this week is to see if it actually does work, because fighting with my mind over whether it is okay to make mistakes or not is clearly not working. My scared mind is winning every time. So I need another way to outwit it. I’ll just open up Photoshop . . .
Well, that went on for a bit longer than I had intended. But it was a useful thing to work through.
I went back over the wellbeing work (thing 3) and reviewed what I needed to do with it and realised that I actually needed something slightly different than the work that was being suggested. My reluctance to do the work has resulted in me putting off doing it all year. Now that I’ve tweaked it to be something I’ll actually use, it was a relatively quick job to finish everything off that I didn’t complete last year. So thing 3 is done.
Sunday was 31 May, the last Sunday of the month, so it was time to do my monthly review from Unravel Your Year (thing 22). With the covid-19 restrictions starting to be eased off a bit, it was great to be able to go and sit in the coffee shop to reflect on the month and what I’d learned, do the review and set my new goals for June.
Summary for the week
Things completed this week: 1 (3)
Things completed to date: 9 (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 15, 16, 18)
Things I progressed: 4 (7, 8, 14, 22)
Things in progress I didn’t progress: 3 (11, 13, 17)