The Perhaps Inevitable Kerplunk of Personal Projects
Listen here, gentle human, if you haven’t collapsed on the couch, wine in hand, drinking about the loss of another personal project… well then, I guess we’re just different.
Keeping a personal project alive is not unlike trying to keep that sad-looking goldfish you won at the fair alive. It’s also not unlike your 2–3 week phase of thinking soy milk tastes good. You know exactly what I’m talking about.
Our mind is incessantly racing from idea to idea, our excitement bouncing along with it. Hype from that initial vision plummets and we struggle with resurrecting the early drive we once had. But hey — such is life, right?
For some, that kerplunk means a self-esteem apocalypse — yikes. For others, it’s liberating and freeing to flow with where that project ‘zing’ lies, as long as we continue to create at some capacity.
One afternoon in March, I met-up with Mike Carpenter, a mega-multifaceted designer and entrepreneur, at a super hip coffee shop in Andersonville, to chat about project kurplunks.
Mike schooled me on the two directions you can take when it comes to the project fork-in-the-road: tell yourself that you’re the boss and persevere OR bid the project farewell and hop on the next train to discovery.
“It’s easy to get inspired. It’s also easy to get intimidated. But, it’s hard to pressure yourself into having more drive. There are so many ways out, exit points, chances to bail — especially if you’re not supremely confident. Most people cringe in fear, rather than say ‘oh well, I’m going to do it anyways.’”
I’m the kind of person that hates disappointing people. Like, gut-retching, sick-to-my-stomach, haunt-me-forever kind of hate. Things get ugly in the headspace, let me tell you. But disappointing yourself is a very different brand of bitter.
Going rogue at work, when you’ve got million dollar clients and people counting on you is not an option. So, why is going rogue on your own personal projects any different? Don’t answer that. But! You’re still left disheartened and crazed, your well-being compromised and tossed to the curb. Hold yourself to a higher regard. Of course, this is easier said than done.
“It’s 100% easier to not do things. Most important factor is consistency. If you do something long enough, it’s going to be great. And then you can say ‘Okay, I did it. Now what?’ There’s something nice about doing a thing and then letting go of it.”
Keep yourself in check, revisit your initial attitude and mindset. And as much as it can suck to open ourselves up to allow for criticism, feedback is important.
“You need that external feedback. The sparks, the Eureka! moment of ‘Oh, right! That’s why I’m doing it.’”
But, maybe it’s time to throw in the towel.
“It’s okay to give up. What’s important is to always have something ‘next.’ One of the huge benefits of working on ‘something else’ is that you find out where you fit. ‘What else?’ — It’s that mindset that leads you to discovery. You exercise those muscles, find you and the next big thing.”