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Thread: Motivation Needed

  1. #1
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    Motivation Needed

    Having a very stressful week dealing with serious labor problems in my business. It has probably been quite a while since I've been to the creek, and had to renew my contributor status as it had expired. And suddenly, I find I have just spent a few hours reading threads here, and my stress is already better.

    I've got my tool chest base cabinet frame done (just the sides and top/bottom dovetailed and hand fit, no glue yet). But I last touched it in like... Lord, I don't know, 6 months? A year? I guess I need to see when I last posted. Looks like 9 months ago.

    I did pick up power lifting end of 2020, I'm still fat, but am now out lifting my 20-something year old self by a very wide margin (47 years old now). (Deadlift was 200lbs then, now 435lbs). And granted it was physically challenging and left me pretty tired and a bit beat up... I think that is part of it. But, I feel like I lost my wood working mojo.

    How do other folks with several hobbies, and 50 hour work weeks keep the flame burning to go sweat over some wood after a long day?
    Last edited by Erich Weidner; 06-11-2022 at 2:08 AM.

  2. #2
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    I find just standing in the shop to relieve stress. Reading about other folks experiences on the forums can have the same effect when I am between projects or taking a break. Certainly the shop (and probably power lifting) is no place to be when you are physically tired after a long day. Not everyone deals well with schedules but even after retirement I plan out my activities. This lets me not worry about when I'm going to get to something and I enjoy it more when I have time reserved to focus on it. I hope you can find some balance. Good luck!
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

  3. #3
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    The distractions of everyday life can be overwhelming.

    As Glenn says often just standing in the shop makes me feel better.

    Good feelings also come from accomplishment. Maybe start with smaller projects that will give a good feeling and maybe you will start wanting more.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
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    What with the price of wood being what it is nowadays, itís easy to lose motivation. Projects I completed two years ago would cost me 3x as much today. However Iíve been focusing on developing new skills and refining some techniques by using some of the small scraps Iíve accumulated. Gets me going.

  5. #5
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    I'll chime in to say even when retired, it's very difficult to stay inspired. Right now, wood and machinery choke my little shop so badly, it's nearly impossible to build anything. So bad in fact, I've been gradually selling off a lifetime collection of magnificent wood.

  6. #6
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    Erich, what works for me is to focus my attention on one task at a time, when there are several to do. I am 72, have cut back to 50 hours in my practice (I cannot see retirement for several years yet), not counting a few hours each week with committee meetings. Exercise and diet are important, otherwise you end up sluggish and lethargic. I powerwalk everyday (used to run, but my knees are tired).

    I make to-do lists for work, woodworking, and other events. There is nothing that must be built for the home at this time, and my wife has a ban on more furniture .. but my office could use a few pieces, and my son is getting married in September, and he wants a few things, and Iíd like to build some gifts (such as a small box) for family members visiting from interstate, plus there is much work to be done around the house readying it for visitors in September (you know how that is) Ö Right now I am finally getting round to completing some shop furniture which there never was time for before. I did take a short break to take photos for two articles for Quercus magazine. On the list is an article for FWW magazine.

    If I did not have a to-do list to manage all the ideas, it would be overwhelming, and that would make it as difficult to deal with as not having a special something to do. Motivation is all about being able to prioritise a task and isolate the time to do it. Motivation is a feeling you create, and not a mood that comes when the time is right. Carve out the time, be excited about the task, and the juices will flow!

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  7. #7
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    For most of my working life I did 60 hour weeks, 5:30 in 5:30 or 6:00 out. Sometimes I would start looking at my hobby work as a task, thatís bad. I then started separating hobby from home chores. The chores like mowing or fixing a door lock and such became necessities that I did just like going to work. I purchased the best tools I could afford to complete those work tasks. I never wanted to have to mess with an old cranky mower in example. I also gathered a hardware store of supplies, nails, screws, bolts, nuts, light switches, receptacles, plumbing parts, and such. In other words I try to take all of the frustrations out of chores leaving more time for fun things. It works for me. Even though retired Iím still up at 5:00 knocking out chores that are too noisy so I can do the fun things.
    Jim
    Last edited by James Pallas; 06-12-2022 at 12:50 PM.

  8. #8
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    Erich, whatever you do there are lulls but some pursuits that last a life time clearly come back. Look for the aspects that really please you and just understand them.
    Other aspects of life such as exercise and fitness are very valuable to your self esteem and energy, they place you better to build on your interests and pursuing them.
    I cycle 175km a week to motivate my energy without destroying my joints!
    For me design is key, thinking, then making it real. Woodwork letís you do this. The results, created by life and care last 100 years are treasured and donít rust!
    Strangely as Iíve aged my memory is not as good but it gives you a fresh perspective, an uncluttered approach and design improves. This benefit was a total surprise, you will find your own.
    Build yourself something, simple, utilitarian, from middle of the road wood. You will appreciate that facet of your life.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  9. #9
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    On those days, I work on something small and easily completed - sharpen a chisel, sharpen a plane blade, organize something, or make a small project like a tool handle that needs to be replaced. Or if you are working on a larger project, pick a small step and complete it - sand a drawer, smooth a few drawer fronts.

    Alternately, you could focus on improving a skill - saw to a dovetail line 10 times, mark a crosscut and saw to the line 10 times on a long piece of scrap. Check for square and try again. I view woodworking as a life long pursuit, a marathon, not a sprint. Its ok to take a break and come back to it. Life is not linear.
    Last edited by Keegan Shields; 06-20-2022 at 10:54 AM.

  10. #10
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    Feb 2018
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    Being in the const. biz my entire life, and hoping to shut down biz by first o july, the last few years have been the most stressful, so much so, i sold my office building and shop, built a home shop, and now, when not dealing with asinine employees or vendors, i'm in shop, making dust, sometimes nonsense dust, but the sound of table saw, router ,or ros just provides a distraction from what was a job in paradise to a dismal excuse of biz. I find, desiging, making a jig, or template is so much more enjoyable than dealing with some clients and vendors, so much so my wife of 50 years joins me to ensure i stay focused to get thru the misery. lol

    i have a couple long time hobbies, one i'm too old to enjoy (rock crawling in my buggy) body just won't take the beating anymore, and im a shooter, an home gun smith, i restore old gats, and rifles, reload, ect, ect. don't think i'll ever get too old for this, and jumping outta airplanes, last jump two years ago, hurt me hip, so thats out now the other half made an edict. lol. gotta love a concerned other half.
    anyhows, the shop is the place, i just bought an entry level laser engraver, and not being a smart techie, its a struggle, but it does help make one forget the horsefeather bull crap that we have been dealing with in trying to get projects scheduled, with lack of workers, materials, ect. ect.

    thanks goodness, my shop has ac, and a decent sound system, rock and roll, and dust go well together for me.
    good luck with the reset, nothing like clear cuts and straight lines
    Rj in az

  11. #11
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    The heart grows less fond of the craft when projects languish or the end result of completed work is largely uninspiring. Woodworking is not a hobby that suffers others very well. A lot of work you see on these boards is barely intermediate. The Georgian cabinetmaker would have thought he'd died and gone to heaven if he could make a living making stripped down, mostly rectilinear work with virtually no surface decoration, rather than the kidney desks, and pieces with cylinder falls, all intricately veneered and inlaid the clientele of the time demanded.

    Decide what you want to make and whether or not it's worth the financial resources and expenditure of time you have for it. Honestly, it might not be.

    Otherwise, you can knock out a Shaker piece every now and then and not have to have a huge investment of time, money, or really even skill - the design and proportions have been figured out for you. Nothing wrong with it. Not a thing.

    If you want to build advanced projects, the other hobbies are going to have to go away.
    Last edited by Charles Guest; 06-21-2022 at 10:27 AM.

  12. #12
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    Interesting this thread came to mind when someone on another BBS mentioned visiting a historical society and some of their collection. Some of the items were tool chests. That took me to The Anarchist Tool Chest. This got me to look at the page on Lost Art Press for the book. Found this:

    When I am too exhausted, ill or busy to work in my shop, I will shuffle down the stairs to my 15' x 25' workshop and simply stand there for a few minutes with my hands on my tools.

    To be sure, I thought I was a touch nuts because of this personality quirk. But after reading the oral histories and diaries of craftsmen from the last 300 years, I found it's actually a common trait among artisans. I am drawn, married or perhaps addicted to the things that allow me to coax wood into new shapes. At the same time, my relationship with my tools is like a tumultuous combination of an Italian family drama, a bigamist's decision about who to sleep with and a careful gardener.

    This book, “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” paints a world where woodworking tools are at the center of an ethical life filled with creating furniture that will last for generations. It makes the case that you can build almost anything with a kit of fewer than 50 high-quality tools, and it shows you how to select real working tools, regardless of their vintage or brand name.
    https://lostartpress.com/products/th...sts-tool-chest

    Now I don't feel so odd for just going out to the shop to "visit" with some of my friends.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  13. #13
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    I too have caught myself with a case of the "stares" after ducking into my shop at the end of a long day (and sometimes before a long day)!

    I have found that I'm enjoying the shop and staying motivated after taking a different approach than some. I've largely given up on deadlines and goals and have settled in to embracing the process rather than the product. At least during those (frequent) periods when other demands don't allow the focus that large, intricate projects require. Takes some of the internal 'shame and blame' out of the equation.

    That said, I'm also increasingly focusing those lit bits of energy on organization and planning, including continually purging the space (my shop is in the garage, which is constantly accumulating 'other' objects). Its now much easier to get into a flow when taking on a larger project, but there's still a pretty big activation energy (see previous sentence about clearing other objects...).

    Best,
    Chris

    Best,
    Chris
    "You can observe a lot just by watching."
    --Yogi Berra

  14. #14
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    Interesting thread. Improving the functionality of your shop allows more focus on doing the craft. Rock solid, flat bench with good work holding, readily accessible saws, planes, layout tools, functional/accessible sharpening, good lighting, music, good setup for clamping glue ups etc. all make shop time more fun.

    Consider smaller projects in super hand tool friendly wood for quick gratification.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Allen1010 View Post
    Interesting thread. Improving the functionality of your shop allows more focus on doing the craft. Rock solid, flat bench with good work holding, readily accessible saws, planes, layout tools, functional/accessible sharpening, good lighting, music, good setup for clamping glue ups etc. all make shop time more fun.

    Consider smaller projects in super hand tool friendly wood for quick gratification.
    Make your shop a place you enjoy being and you will maybe spend more time there.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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