Learning to Focus on Process instead of Production

Our self-worth tends to get tangled up in what we can produce.

Like a lot of people, I constantly feel like I need to produce something.

I need to have some indication that I have used my time “wisely” by having a product to show for it. Whether that “product” is a piece of art, a spreadsheet, or a cleaner house, there needs to be something to show for my time.

I get caught up in this idea of production, so much so, that even when I’m too ill to physically do anything, I find myself fretting over how I am just “wasting” time lying in bed, despite the fact that lying in bed means that I am actively helping my body to heal. So, then I’ll push myself to get up and moving, make myself feel worse, stay sick longer, and the cycle repeats itself.

This idea of needing to be productive is so ingrained in so many of us that we do it reflexively and it feels so natural.

So naturally, in fact, that we tend to tie our self worth to what we are able to do and produce.

I feel like this need to produce a product (pun fully intended) of our consumer and capitalist driven society.

Our want and value of things leads us to believe that our only worth lies in acquiring those things or producing those things. It is why the idea of not producing or not focusing on attaining a product has made us all so stressed and frantic.

I believe that leaning towards minimalism can help alleviate some of the stress of over-consumption, but I also think that focusing more on process, instead of production, can be freeing in other aspects of your life as well.

So, I am working to focus more on the process vs the product.

I’ve found it to be a very meditative experience.

To help work into the practice of being focused on process, I spent an entire week just drawing intricately lined mandalas.

They turned out lovely, but it was the process that I found much more appealing.

As I drew tiny line after line, I found myself able to relax and let go of my constant worry. I chose pretty simple patterns, and focused entirely on how the small lines would shape the design. It wasn’t about how it would end up, but more about the act of doing it at all.

Focusing on the process keeps us present.

Our value is not derived from our ability to produce, or how quickly we can produce, instead, our value is in our own existence, and I think it is easier to see that when we stop worrying so much about how things were or how they’ll end up and focus on the present moment.

This video shows a short time-lapse of me creating a lined mandala.
Hours of work condensed to seconds.
The product is fleeting, but the process is lasting.

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