Thursday, May 22, 2014

Overcoming the Zeigarnik Effect

by Judy


Are you saying huh?  Did I log into the wrong blog this morning? Overcoming what? 

The Zeigarnik Effect is "the tendency to experience intrusive thoughts about an objective that was once pursued and left incomplete."  So......... fizzling New Year's resolutions.  Missed classes. Unfulfilled goals. Unfinished projects piling up.  Are you with me now? 

Lately I've been fretting over my already failed 365 photo project.  I made it to day 98.  This is my second failed 365 photo project so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I wasn't able to finish it.  But, still, I had hopes.  I started out strong.  But I fizzled out even stronger. I don't know what happened.   Maybe because I wanted to create art daily, and not just snapshots? Maybe because I'm a perfectionist and perfect photos take time?  Maybe. But I also know there are plenty of perfectionists who do finish a 365 project and create gorgeous art each day. 

On top of the fact that I failed at this once again, I've been annoyed with myself for fretting about it so much. I keep asking myself, why does this bother me so much?  I did some research and lo and behold - I learned about the Zeigarnik Effect!

It seems that it's human nature to finish what we start, and if something's not finished, we experience uncomfortable feelings.  To compound these uncomfortable feelings, we humans tend to recall uncompleted tasks and projects much more than we remember those things we have completed.  

I have realized though that all of this fretting about what I didn't do is keeping me from living fully in the here and now. I'm putting my failed 365 project to bed.  In my mind I am calling it my completed three month photography study. :)

Do you have to battle the Zeigarnik Effect too? Let's stop wasting precious time feeling inadequate over unfinished projects.  Let's create our own endings.  Whether it's getting closure through a symbolic event, or renaming our projects like I did, or even picking a new start date, a new project name and starting anew! Life is too short. 

"It's the little things in life that bother us.  You can sit on a mountain, but not on a tack." 












14 comments:

Sarah Huizenga said...

I had to let go of the idea of creating beautiful artistic images early on in my 365 project. Some days (a lot of days) just don't roll with that ideal. I instead create art somedays, and somedays MY 365 project is just that images of MY everyday life.

Carol said...

Ah - so this is why I must finish a book, even if Im not enjoying it! My 365 is done too, but I am not fretting about it this time. Maybe your life is so full right now that you don't have time to picture and write about it - that's not a bad thing. Or maybe having a daily record of it is not what you need - you can live the details, but picture the highlights. Anyway - I love the renaming !
No one needs more shame and guilt - you have made the negative a positive, and if it works for you, go with it! I love this post - and I
love learning a new word!


AFishGirl said...

Wonderful post. Nice to see a name for this. I was reading somewhere else about how we recall all the things we do wrong and so few of the things we do right. We're a self-berating species. I can't imagine other animals being this hard on themselves. Then they'd be sad a lot. And they're not. We have a lot to learn from them. The "let it go" and the "be present." It's our minds that get us, the too much thinking. I'll ponder this post today at work. Merci!

Dotti said...

Judy, you have given definition to an issue that plaques all of us. Why are we so hard on ourselves. We should go gently with ourselves. Good post.

terriporter said...

So thaaaaat's what it's called! Oh, yes, right there with you about fretting over unfinished things. But I love that you were able to rename your project and move on. Life has a way of derailing even our best laid plans and we have to realize that we are not always in complete control of that. Pam's advice is good -- let it go and be present. Will have to keep that in mind the next time this happens to me!

terriporter said...

So thaaaaat's what it's called! Oh, yes, right there with you about fretting over unfinished things. But I love that you were able to rename your project and move on. Life has a way of derailing even our best laid plans and we have to realize that we are not always in complete control of that. Pam's advice is good -- let it go and be present. Will have to keep that in mind the next time this happens to me!

seabluelens said...

I've managed to carry on with my 365 project (it helps to be doing it with a small group) but my daily photos are definitely NOT great art. Sometimes I like them quite a lot anyway. One of the reasons I'm so pleased with myself is simply that I'm actually doing it. I am really terrible about taking on projects that never get done, and in many cases, never even get started. I'm trying hard to let go of perfectionism, and to let go of certain projects that it becomes clear are just never going to happen. If they were really important to me, I'd have done them, right? It was fun to learn that there's a name for this condition that seems so common to humankind.

kelly said...

such a good post judy...why do we get so down ourselves? always focusing on everything we're doing wrong.. it drives me into such a frenzy and then sucks the joy right out of everything i love. i really needed this today my friend. thank you. xo

Viv@within the Frame said...

Thank you Judy for making me feel so much better about myself. I have decided not to attempt the 365 again as it had the opposite effect on my creativity as it should have lol....

Barb Brookbank said...

Oh I so enjoyed this post! Thank you so much for enlightening me and for giving me the tools to regroup and re-frame a project! Lovely image btw!

sherrygaley.com said...

I LOVE this post. I never knew there was a name for this but most of us can identify for sure! What you did is brilliant - reframe something unfinished into a completed three month study. That is probably what you needed to do in the first place. Sometimes we take on projects that are really not right for us but there is a cachet to them -- like a 365. I know such a project is not right for me and would only hinder my creative process. So I take on other projects that are more in keeping with my quirks and inclinations. It all depends on what are underlying needs and desires are. Sometimes we have to go a different way than others...I say more power to each of us to make our own choices and learn and grow in our own way. To me the true failure is not even to try anything....

Deanna said...

Oh, I am so glad there is a name to this thing that I have....so many projects, so many incomplete, I am notorious and I don't think there is any hope so I'll just give in and enjoy the here and now and not worry about what's still undone!!

Cathy said...

Well, now I have a name for it! My husband is a know 80%er! I can't wait to drop this word on his next big project! Great post and such a beautiful photo.

Roxi -Coppercurls Designs said...

Well, I'm sitting on a mountain of unfinished projects and fortunately I'm just staring up at the clouds floating by. I do have plenty of beat myself up moments tho.

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing part of your day with us. If for any reason you are unable to leave a comment here on this post, please leave your comment on our Facebook page or in our Flickr discussion group. We love hearing from you!

 
© Focusing On Life