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Are You Too Attached To Your Work?

It’s easy to allow sentiment or nostalgia to stall progress. Whether that means latching onto an idea, or becoming overly attached to the way you think things used to be, it can prevent you from weaving your circumstances together for the better. You can’t hold onto a moment, you can only mark it and move on.

In an interview with Steven Pressfield for the Accidental Creative podcast, he told a story about the time he finished a novel, and promptly raced down the street to a mentor’s house to share the news. The mentor’s response? “Great – start the next one tomorrow.”

This is the mindset of a professional. Celebration? Sure! Do something to mark the moment. Congratulate yourself and your team. Enjoy the moment.

But the next day? Get back to work.

It’s easy to allow sentiment or nostalgia to stall progress. Whether that means latching onto an idea, or becoming overly attached to the way you think things used to be, it can prevent you from taking those next, critical steps forward. You can’t hold on to a moment, you can only mark it and move on.

For example:

– The manager (or team) who can’t stop talking about “the good old days”, but forgets that those days were actually pretty painful at the time. (We tend to only remember what we want to, and forget the rest.)
– The person who can’t let go of an idea, or who keeps reminding everyone of a great past success, trying to reclaim some of that feeling.
– An organization that can’t seem to move forward because it’s fossilized around a leader who won’t pass the torch.

The three things you have to do are make, mark, move.
Make: Get the work done.
Mark: Take some time to celebrate your accomplishment.
Move: Immediately decide on your next steps so that progress doesn’t stall.

You can’t afford to get overly attached to the work. Be fully vested, pour yourself into it, celebrate the wins, mark the moment, and pull out “tribal stories” when they help you stay aligned. However, don’t live in the past or try to hold onto victories for too long.

As soon as you achieve a victory, plan your next move.

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Last modified: December 1, 2022

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