Process vs Product

One of the things I’ve “stolen” from the knitting community is the idea of being process vs product oriented. A process oriented person does things because they like the DOING of the things – they knit for the pleasure of knitting. A product oriented person knits for the END RESULT, and while they might enjoy knitting, they enjoy having a finished object more than they do the actual process of making it.

Most people are a little bit of both.

I have discovered that, in many aspects of my life, I am primarily product oriented. I don’t have any love for following a process, for the step by step doing of a thing, for the repeated effort of working on something. I get my fix from finishing stuff.

I do this at work (so much so that my boss knows that if I’m having a week where I’m bogged down in the process of five or six big proposals, she’ll assign me something small and quick, just so that I can have FINISHED SOMETHING DAMMIT that week). (My boss is awesome!) I do it with crafts – I like projects where I see the actual process quickly – big knitting on big needles, or small projects, or mandalas that only take a few hours to complete. The majority of the craft work that I do takes hours – not days, weeks, or months – to finish. I even hesitate to START big projects, because I know I’ll burn out on the process and they’ll sit, unfinished, for years.

And, I’m noticing, I do this with exercise.

Weight lifting is the first exercise program I have stuck with for more than six weeks (other than walking). The difference? I see real, measurable progress. I love doing yoga, but seem to have motivation issues to do it long term, because yoga doesn’t have any real markers for progress. Sure after months of work, I might notice I can go a little bit deeper in a forward bend, but it’s extremely slow, and yoga itself is essentially noncompetitive (which is part of what I like about it). With weights? I see progress – or not – every time I pick up a dumbbell. I have a little log book that tells me that in October, I could deadlift 35 lbs, and that this week, I can deadlift 90. While it’s not “finishing” something (I don’t suppose I’ll ever be truly finished), it’s giving me a real measure of accomplishment and results. (It’s also making the product about something I can DO, and not about how I LOOK, which is a good thing too.)

I know that I’m still in the “honeymoon” phase of lifting, where I’ll see fairly rapid gains in strength. I’m told that lasts 6 months to a year, and then the real “slog” begins. We’ll see how I do at that point. I am hoping that by then, this will be enough of a habit that I won’t be as bothered that I’m not adding weight every few weeks. For now though, I’m going to continue to pick up the heavy things and put them back down.