How daunting projects can be like dating

September 9, 2010

By guest blogger, Darcy Prince.

One key ingredient that can make a project feel daunting to me is doing something unfamiliar/new. My typical method of dealing with daunting projects has been to wait until something magically shifts on its own and then say to myself, “Oh yeah, no wonder I wasn’t doing that before, X, Y or Z was getting in the way.”

In the spirit of being a little more proactive when I am stuck and of being gentle with myself before instead of only after the fact, I decided to play with the idea of how to address the unfamiliarity/newness aspect of projects. My idea is to schedule a first date with any new project. Like on your first date, you don’t go for dinner and a movie and hot hot lovin’ (well, not on most of the first dates I went on at least, although I expect it depends how you met the person).

Dating your projects

My first date recipe was usually to meet during the daytime, somewhere public, for something like coffee, an activity easily brought to a close in case no spark occurred, so the exit could be quick and painless (finished my beverage, time to go!).

Here are some other things I would do on a first date that might help new/unfamiliar projects go more smoothly:

  • Make sure I’m at the top of my game or at least have my game face on. When I am starting a new project, I get myself mentally psyched up to feel like I am at my most competent. Even doing things like taking a shower and getting dressed and brushing my teeth before I start seem like they would do me just as well for unfamiliar projects as they would for dating.
  • Don’t expect too much. First dates are for figuring out whether or not you like someone. I often make up my mind that I will do a project before I know whether I will actually enjoy doing it or not. Maybe I could try toning down my expectations about how good of a fit any given activity will be for me.
  • Get to know the other player. I tend to be impatient to start doing things once I get a mind to do them. Slowing down and gradually learning a new activity isn’t my usual habit– I want to dive into the deep end and fly before I walk. I could maybe benefit from a longer get-to-know-you period with certain activities.
  • Give myself a break. This piece I figured out a while ago. Dating was tiring—always being on, putting my best foot forward. Sometimes I would just want to stay home in my jammies and eat ice cream and watch chick flicks, ie, do something familiar and easy where I didn’t have to stretch at all. Mixing in easy/familiar activities, ones I’m already good at, can be a way to keep up my energy for doing new things. The comfort that comes from doing an activity I’ve already mastered is a gift I can give myself any time.

How would you like dating your projects? Do you have other ways to make starting the process easier?


  1. I love this. It’s so good to go slowly and get to know your new project. Become friends. Let’s face it, if you fall for this project, there will be days that you just don’t like it. A slow courtship will serve you well in those moments.
    .-= Rachel Z Cornell´s last blog ..Andrew J Mellen author of “Unstuff Your Life! Talks TuesdayToss =-.

  2. So helpful for me to read this today – I was thinking earlier how getting dressed nicely and playing music might help me with this new book project. I love what you said, much food for thought.

  3. So lovely to see your guest post over here, Darcy! I’ve been missing your voice. 🙂

    I LOVE the idea of dating a project! I sorta did this with my latest craft project. I’d picked up a set of stamped cross-stitch pillow cases for cheap a while back and decided to make them for a Christmas gift. Only problem? I really don’t like to do stamped cross stitching! (I have a hard time keeping the stitches the same length and it drives me crazy.) I guess I’d thought I could embroider them instead, but there’s just no way. It has to be cross stitch. So, I decided I’d try, and if I hated it, I’d just move on to something else. VERY difficult for me to do! But you know what? I don’t hate it as much as I thought I would and I’m liking the results even more. I think part of the not-hating has to do with giving myself permission to abandon the project if it drove me completely crazy. Completely new concept for me!
    .-= Sherron´s last blog ..The one who started it all =-.

  4. Oooh, Sherron, I love your smartness re: permission to bag the project. Brilliance!

    Rachel, I love your way of putting it. Slow courtship sounds even more enticing than dating. Thank you for those words.

    Jennifer, so happy to be helpful 🙂 And I hope you and your book had a lovely date with nice outfits and good music 🙂
    .-= Darcy´s last blog ..A day worth writing about =-.

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