Engaging in work without knowing if it will serve us requires either courage or confidence.
If it’s courage that leads us, then it’s there to overcome the discomfort that things may not work out as planned. If starting the project requires confidence, then the idea is that whatever happens, something interesting will come out of it.
When neither of both can be used, then people will step back and search for a method to enable themselves to start the work. This most often means that they search for something that helps them visualize the result or how they can proceed. In both cases, they are connecting themselves with a feeling they experienced before as a satisfying byproduct of doing the work.
For some, it is the tangible pleasure of having worked and created something with their hands. That’s the type of work my neighbor loves. Since they moved in, he added numerous constructions in and around their house. Looking at what he built gives him pleasure.
For others, it is for example the ability to dig deep into numbers, play around with them to generate statistics, and be able to describe something with the data. Or maybe, it is the number of mails they answered and initiated to make sure everyone is informed. For them, the tangible element is to create information that has not been there before and to have others react to it.
It very often is important and rewarding work.
However, it is also limiting people’s ability to imagine a different type of project. One they have not done before. One they might not be sure will create the value they would like to see emerge.
Wanting the safety of using a proven method or knowing what tangible result there will be at the end isn’t the problem. It is expecting that it is possible to have a clear objective right from the beginning.
There actually is quite a journey until then. It is work that requires people to discipline themselves into being creative as well as curious about their own work. It boils down to asking themselves regularly who it was for and what it was for. Or said differently, what value it created.
It requires being honest with oneself and allowing oneself to see the value. It might uncover the next step. It might be one that only others can describe. It might also simply help to continue and stick to it.
It helps to practice with everyday tasks. Especially with the ones that have become routine.