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— Mar 21, 2013 —

Learning to let go of your work

I've recently been listening to the Unfinished Business podcast by Andy Clarke and Anna Debenham on my daily drive to and from work.

In episode 4, 'Total Jerk Loser', Andy told of how he never revisits a site once the client moves on, and makes a very good point as to why you shouldn't put yourself through it.

This got me thinking. I have found it very difficult in the past to let go of the work I've done. Not just in terms of handing over to a client, or revisiting the site once the client has had control for sometime, but handing over to the people I work with, my colleagues, my fellow developers.

And it has taken me a great deal of time to do this, but I have now learned to let go of my work. Everything I used to do was my baby, and I'd even go as far as taking offence when someone wanted to take a project away from me, and take any criticisms personally.

But no longer. As I said, it took me a very long time to be able to do this, and it took something as big as having children for me to change my ways.

To be able to let go, I had to start small.

I had to create something that didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, near completion, and hand it over to someone else.

So, without really realising, I started very small.

I love colouring in. It's extremely relaxing, and you can let your mind wander, or just empty it completely. I highly recommend it.

I would also like to make it clear that I don't do this on my own, but with my 2 year old daughter and 6 year old son. Honest. We crack open the crayons along with the jumbo colouring books, and we each set about colouring in a page of our choosing.

There was a time, not that long ago really, where I was a complete and utter control freak. I simply couldn't put trust in other people to complete a job which I had started. And this wasn't just at work.

I'm not proud of it, but this control freak inside of me took over even when doing something as basic and as insignificant (in the grand scheme of thing) as colouring in.

I simply couldn't let my kids colour in the same page as me! I wanted it to be a perfect example of how to colour in with crayons, that's how much of a perfectionist control freak I was. You may even find evidence of this on my Instagram feed!

As soon as I did this, it really wasn't long before the kids lost interest and wandered off to do other things, leaving me to my own perfectionist colouring book heaven.

And then it dawned on me, they weren't colouring in any more because it had stopped being fun. I was stifling their creativity with my awful need for perfectionism.

So I stopped.

I've freed myself to trust in others, put faith in them that they will be able to complete the job that I was initially tasked with (and most times be far more creative, we even got an homage to Seth Godin's purple cow!).

I've made this change in my life, not just my work, and I can now enjoy things without the restrictions that my need for perfection had placed me under.

After all, if you don't enjoy it, what's the point?