Nearly every artist has a masterpiece that they are working on perfecting. Authors have that great American novel. Composers have that major symphony. Sculptors have that one piece that they keep working on.
Regardless of the medium these masterpieces have many things in common. The artist feels a calling to make them the perfect encapsulation of their vision. They keep working on them whenever there is a free moment; sometimes at the expense of other responsibilities. Just when the piece is approaching completion the artist may find something that causes them to have to make major changes. There are often as many setbacks as successes. The whole process is maddening, frustrating and tremendously rewarding.
These great masterpieces are a labor of love and a continuing pursuit of excellence and fulfillment.
Why am I telling you this?
Every one of us is an artist working on our great masterpiece: our life. We spend every day crafting and perfecting our masterpiece to achieve our ever evolving vision. Only our own insatiable desire for excellence will suffice, nobody else’s view of success matters.
The fact that I am an artist working on a major masterpiece really occurred to me this week. The particular area of my masterpiece that I was contemplating this week is, of course, my fitness life.
I started my masterpiece with a huge block of stone and my vision was to craft a spectacular human form from that block. I started by making major cuts to unveil the basic outline of the human form I wanted. This was hard work but the results were unmistakable.
Before I knew it I had carved over 100 pounds of unnecessary stone away and the form started taking shape. Lots of enthusiasts of my art were impressed but not me. I still had a shapeless form in front of me and still had work to do.
Next I got busy with some more precision work sculpting more of the details. After two years I had cleared away even more excess material and had a clear shape that would have been a perfectly acceptable stopping place. But that wasn’t what I saw.
Nothing short of my vision was going to satisfy me and I wasn’t stopping. This became particularly challenging as my vision keeps evolving before my eyes. I think my vision for excellence is like the horizon, it just keeps hanging out there in the distance.
As I have continued working on the super precision work I have absolutely made progress. This week I noticed in my mirror that my shape had evolved a lot and I am very happy with many of the aspects. But it isn’t done yet.
Over the past few months I have struggled to be satisfied with “maintenance mode” and there are things I still need to fix. As I have been working on some of those things some other parts of my masterpiece have slipped backwards. Specifically my weight went up a bit as I work on shaping my muscles and some of my clothes have gotten too small though my weight increase has only been about 5 pounds.
This week I started refocusing some of my efforts working on my craft. I decided to switch back to some of the bigger carving tools to cut back on more of the excess material. Just for a couple of weeks.
I cut my calorie target back a bit to lose a couple of pounds. Plus I stepped up a little of my workout intensity to help too. These changes paid off quickly and I started seeing immediate results. So I can put these non-precision tools back on the shelf in another week or two.
Has anybody else noticed these flaws? Probably not but I am not doing it for them. I am doing this because I am not satisfied with my masterpiece and I know I can be better!
I haven’t stopped my focus on the precision work either. I am continuing to work on sculpting and shaping my muscles which are really looking great! Plus I continue to try to improve my performance and had a great 5k this weekend – that’s two 5k runs in 3 days with an 8+ mile walk in between!
When people ask me if I am satisfied or if I am done they are shocked when I say I am not. But my masterpiece needs to achieve my ever-evolving vision of excellence. If I know I can make it better I am going to make it better.
While the outcome and vision are important to me they are just a part of the story. Most importantly I am enjoying the craft and the journey. It’s not just about the destination for me. This is my art and I am going to be an artist!
Is it an obsession? Is it perfectionism? No. It is just a lifelong quest for excellence! Switching metaphors my masterpiece is an unfinished symphony and will be until the day I die. So my work will never be done!
Thanks for reading! I hop your masterpiece continues to take shape, moves towards your vision and that you enjoy the journey. If we all continue working on our masterpieces with courage, confidence and conviction we will build a world where goals never die of loneliness!
Learn more about my journey and how to use project management to accomplish your most important goals. Grab your copy of Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year on Amazon, iTunes or Barnes & Noble by visiting. https://OperationMelt.com/book/.