December 22, 2007

The little hater.

About a week ago, Jay Smooth posted one of the best videos I have seen on the web in a long while. I’ve been taking a lot of time over the past few weeks to evaluate the way I approach work and life in general, so Jay’s post was quite timely.

I know most of you have seen it because you check ill Doctrine every day (and if you don’t, you really should, it’s the best video blog out there) but for reference sake, I’m embedding the video here so you can watch it before you read the rest of this post.

Jay brings up one of the big questions that plague people like me every day: how do I stop that circle of self-doubt that prevents me from getting work done, and worst of all, prevents me from being confident enough that the work I do is good enough?

For the most part, I feel as though I have a pretty good handle on procrastination. Of course, there are times where I will catch myself with 30 browser tabs open and a podcast I’m barely listening to playing in the background, but in general I do feel like I am productive with my time, rather than just being busy.

My little hater instead focuses on confidence. Like Jay, I often question whether the output of my labor (and this also applies to this blog, but not to the same extent since it’s not my paying gig) is good enough to warrant the resources that other people and I devote to my work. And because I work in the creative world, in the realm of ideas and concepts, this often translates into a very scary feeling: I occasionally lose faith in the validity of my own thoughts and ideas.

When you don’t have faith in your ideas and your entire oeuvre is based in your ability to share your ideas (I do work in web content strategy, after all) with other people, that’s when the little hater is causing the most damage.

In the past, I used to be able to shake that little hater pretty easily: I would review some of my previous projects and see how far they have come because of my input, and I would speak to other people who engage in new media in order to get feedback and inspiration. Because my work relies so much on the engagement of other people, this would work in quieting that little hater.

Recently, however, a lot of my work has moved away from implementation and gone into strategy and management. It’s hard to see results of your work when you are not involved directly in implementation, and it’s even harder to get feedback when nobody actually gets to see your work. My little hater’s voice is getting louder, and I’m having trouble making it shut up.

I’m sure I’ll be able to shake my little hater soon enough, but for now, it’s hard to get this monkey off my back. So Jay, what I’m saying is that I empathize, and that I thank you for voicing this problem that plagues everyone working in the creative domain.