Small Victories

April 16, 2008

There is something about completion. Something about finishing a job and bringing it to a close. It feels good. There is satisfaction. I like this feeling. I’d like to feel it more. The problem is that I have chosen one of the more labor intensive crafts in which to work. Taking hours, days, weeks, months to finish a project is a bit hard on my need for gratification.

Now I am not in need of constant indulgence. I have no requirements for besting my latest Game boy score of the day. I don’t need to win at the races every day. But I would like to feel like I’m moving forward, like I’m pushing ahead, making progress.

This is why I am instituting a new plan for myself. I encourage you to do the same. I call it Small Victories. I call it this because I need this encouragement. I need to feel at the end of a day, when I am incredibly busy and nothing seems to get done, I need to feel that something is getting accomplished.
So I look into the future and say to myself, what would make me feel good about today? Not what do I want to get done today?

Because if I were to answer that question I would say, Well today, I’d like to finish building that cabinet from 17 years ago, I want to paint that door sign, fix the plumbing in the other bathroom, design more railing for the mezzanine space, get that flashing installed outside, practice carving, finish the dovetails on that drawer, organize my drawings, clean out the storage room, fix the planer, and get a work-out in. It can’t be done in one day.

But what I can do is pick one project and work on it like a madman for an hour, letting nothing interrupt me. Nothing will deter me. I will work, you can talk at me, I will not stop. I will work on this and all I hope for is one hour. If I get that hour in, I will be happy.

And you know what? I think I can usually do that. It’s a small victory. But it gets me down the road. And that’s where I want to be moving. Not doing the usual dance in my shop where I walk in, [place those cartoon dashes after my footsteps], go to my bench to start on the drawer but see the mess, start to clean it, walk to the plane cabinet to put something away, oh that’s not finished yet, flatten the back of that plane for a bit, dang water stones are dried out, get water for that, boy I should find those hinges, did I put them in here above the sharpening stuff, oh look I found that template guide I had been looking for, I should see if the other one is in the Hitachi router, when did these screws get knocked over, better fix that, clean as you go, that’s my motto, oh the beam still needs scraping, go sharpen that scraper, why is this bench so cluttered with drawer stuff, put that aside. STOP.

So all I’m hoping for today is an hour of focused work. Two or three would be nice. But progress will be made however small. I will take this small victory with me at the end of the day. And every time I waver I must bring myself back on task like those meditation kittens that keep leaving your lap when you’re trying to learn how to meditate but never can. Put it back on my lap for one hour and get some work done. Good. Now I can keep going but I hope, at least to get in one small victory today.

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Published in: on April 16, 2008 at 8:15 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] April 17, 2008 Recently my former woodworking teacher, Gary Rogowski, wrote on his blog about how life often overwhelms our ability to find quality shop time (see it here). […]


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