Make Work a Little Less Stressful With a 'New Project Cocoon'
March 14, 2018
A reader once wrote in and let me know that this was their biggest issue:
My biggest issue is perserverence. If I do not see immediate results, I assume there is no interest, it isn’t a good idea, etc.
I totally get that. Mastery and focus are big values of mine, and I don't like being bad at something or wasting time on something that's not “getting me anywhere.”
The challenge, of course, is that personal growth is a more important value to me. You don’t continue to grow without trying new things, which means you’ve got to embrace not being good at those new things or them not paying off immediately.
You don’t continue to grow without trying new things, which means you’ve got to embrace not being good at those new things or them not paying off immediately.
A way I’ve gotten around this and coached other people to do the same is by implementing a new project cocoon. The cocoon is for both you and the project. It’s for you so that you give yourself a safe place to not be good at something, and it’s for the project so that it doesn’t get killed before it’s had a chance to bloom.
For instance, when I started my podcast, I made the commitment to publish 50 episodes no matter how much I didn’t like it in the beginning—and even if we didn’t see listener growth or excitement. Of course, I knew around the 40th episode or so that we’d keep doing it, but it would’ve been easy to stop earlier on.
I’ve done the same thing with workout schedules, productivity experiments, and other social projects like daily blogging and so on.
If it’s worth doing and worth doing well, it’s worth doing badly at the beginning. Expecting to be good at things from the beginning keeps us from being masterful in the end.
Here, some tips on how to make the 'new project cocoon' part of your process:
⭐ Shine's Tips to Create a New Project Cocoon ⭐
1. Mark It On Your Calendar
Make your "new project cocoon" part of your calendar or to-do list. Try to block out a few minutes or even an hour for "cocoon" time each week. See it as a cozy, not frightening, time to try something new.
You can change the theme of "cocoon time" depending on the day's task. One day it might be "Cocoon: Data," the next "Cocoon: Tough Email," the next "Cocoon: Understand HTML Code." The more you let yourself experiment, the easier it'll get to embrace not being good at something right away. Then, you'll open yourself up to even more growth.
2. Let Others Know You're in Experiment Mode
Oftentimes, we resist "experimenting" because we worry other people will see our less-than-perfect product—and judge us for it. Release some of that pressure by letting your boss or manager know when you're exploring something rather than creating something. If, say, you're in the early stages of a project, let your boss know you want to "explore a few directions" before sharing a final product. Build space to experiment into your work flow.
3. Don't Set Expectations For Your Cocoon
As much as we love to set goals, a new project cocoon works best if you don't attach a goal to it. When we tie our time to an outcome, it puts pressure on us to deliver rather than simply explore. Instead of, say, expecting a finished chapter out of "Cocoon: Chapter 3," make peace with the fact that the cocoon time might not produce anything—but it's still an investment. You're incubating the project, and that time spent will help it become a beautiful butterfly (sorry, had to) down the line.
A version of this article appeared on ProductiveFlourishing.com