Some thoughts on motivation

As I am trying to get rid of my UFOs I’m also thinking quite a bit about motivation. Why did I stop working on so many projects somewhere midway? Why did I start so many other projects in between (and didn’t finish those either)? What made me lose motivation? At the start of each project I was really excited about that particular project. About the pattern, the fabric I was going to use, the construction details. And yet, some of those really exciting projects have now been waiting in a plastic bag for ages until I pick up the courage to finish them.

It made me think of a graph I saw in a newspaper years ago. I don’t remember the details, but I think it was a short report on a research paper in which they had studied people’s motivation during a task or project. I’ve tried to find it but couldn’t so I’ve reproduced the figure from memory and added some extras, just because I could.


The conclusions were very simple really. At first, people are very motivated to work on a task/project. To keep it sewing related, when you discover a new pattern that you really love, you’re eager to find the perfect fabric and matching notions and to just start sewing. Then, after a while, your motivation slowly starts to wane. Progress is not as fast as you had hoped, there might be some setbacks (unpicking, anyone?). So, halfway through you’re thinking you’re never going to get this thing finished ever, and motivation hits an all-time low. Then, at some point, your motivation slowly begins to increase as you start to see that it is actually starting to look like a real garment, that it might in fact turn out nice and something that you’d like to wear. Close to the finish line, motivation sky rockets and the project is finished quickly.

For me this is very true and not just for sewing related tasks. It is something that I should learn to recognize and fight. Especially in the middle stages when a project or task becomes sort of boring, I should remember how nice it makes me feel to finish something and not succumb to the lure of the shinier project.

Do you recognize these fluctuations in motivation when sewing?