progress > perfection

The NaBloPoMo prompts are killing me with the boring this week, and it’s only Tuesday.

Today it wants me to talk about what the hardest part of a project is for me.  Which, given that I’m already struggling to complete this “blog every day for a month” project, is quite the coincidence.

So, what’s the hardest part of a project for me?  It depends greatly on the project.  If it’s a project that I’m super into and excited about and have lots of ideas for, I’m usually good until halfway through, when my interest will inevitably be pulled toward other newer, more shiny and exciting things.  These are the types of projects that I usually end up taking a hiatus from while I indulge my “ooh, shiny” impulses elsewhere, then come back to them later on and finish them up.

If the project is one that I’m not into from the very beginning then the hardest part is actually getting started.  I will procrastinate as long as possible before finally buckling down and getting shit done.  Sometimes it’s procrastination via distraction, ie: finding many other shiny things to be awed by and “forgetting” about the unsavory project.

But sometimes, it’s procrastination via analysis paralysis.

Take kettle bells, for example.

15 pounds sounds wimpy, but you try swinging one of these motherfuckers. NOT EASY.

15 pounds sounds wimpy, but you try swinging one of these motherfuckers. NOT EASY.

I bought this kettle bell a few weeks ago with the intention of learning how to do some of the (many!) specialized exercises that they are used for.  I have some previous experience lifting weights and doing body-weight exercises like squats and lunges, so I understand the general mechanics of what goes into something like a kettle-bell swing, theoretically.  I took the bell home, I looked up a beginner’s video on YouTube, I followed along, everything was basically honky-dory.  I decided that yes, I thought the kettle bell might work for me and so I should commit to learning how to PROPERLY do the lifts and swings with good form now so that I don’t end up hurting myself later on with a heavier bell and bad form.

This sounds perfectly reasonable in theory – responsible, even!  But, it was the first step down the analysis paralysis path for me, as it so often is.  I read a bunch of articles about kettle-bell swings and proper form.  I found all kinds of tips and tricks, videos, and things I should try.  I even started a draft email in my Gmail to save the myriad links to kettle bell articles and videos I wanted to be able to revisit later.  I read and thought about this all SO MUCH over the course of about a week that I actually started to make myself worry that I wouldn’t be able to ever do it right without like, an expensive personal trainer or moving to Russia and devoting my life to all things kettle bell, etc.

To my credit, I realized that I was kind of going into crazy-mode at that point and stopped reading kettle bell articles…but that hasn’t made it any easier for me to actually get back to the project of, you know, exercising with the kettle bell.  Every time I walk past it now I find myself thinking, “I have to work on my squat form before I can even attempt to do swings the right way, so I’m not even going to bother”.

Which leads us to possibly the worst part of projects for me, which is that I’m a perfectionist.  If something isn’t coming out the way I want it, I’m apt to scrap the whole thing and start over fourteen times rather than work with what I’ve already got.  Blog posts are a perfect example of this.  You wouldn’t believe the number of times I start writing, decide I hate what I’ve said, and delete the whole thing.  I get so overly concerned with how I’m saying what I’m trying to say, that a whole lot of the time I just don’t say anything, because it’s easier than trying to go back and edit things to make them sound how I want.  In terms of the kettle bells, even throwing that 15lb kettle bell around with terrible form is probably going to do me more good than harm because it’s exercise I’m otherwise NOT doing, but in my head I’m so convinced that imperfect = BAD that I have a really hard time bringing myself to even try.

Progress is more important than perfection.  Reminding myself of that every time I get stuck in an “I can’t do this right so I might as well not do it” feedback loop is a project in and of itself.

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