INDUSTRIOUS is a word that can mean diligent, busy, productive, energetic or even conscientious. INDUSTRY is the 4th step on Erickson’s ladder of Emotional Development, developed after INITIATIVE, between the ages of 6 – 12.
Think back for a few minutes. What were you doing during those years? Going to school, making your bed each day, brushing your teeth without being told to do so, working a job, doing your chores at home without being told to accomplish them over and over again? If you were accomplishing the above, you were a super-natural kid! Most elementary-aged children are tired when they get home from school. They’ve been locked up at a desk, given assignments and expected to complete them, and they don’t feel like coming home to more demands.
But ask yourself this: In school when you were given an assignment, would you complete it in the allotted time more often than not, or did you procrastinate, fiddle with your pencil and paper, chat with classmates or do anything but the assignment? If you were developing Industry, you got busy right away, or at least as soon as you sharpened your pencil, and got the work finished before or at the allotted time. You see, if you had developed TRUST, then you could trust yourself to do the work correctly, or mostly correctly. If you developed AUTONOMY, then you kept your eyes to yourself and the task at hand, assured that you didn’t need help and didn’t need to cheat by copying someone else’s work. If you developed INITIATIVE you saw the task ahead and took appropriate action to complete it. If you were developing INDUSTRY, you kept working at the project until you’d completed it, rather than interrupting progress with dawdling or other pursuits.
One of the things that interrupts projects, is a feeling of inadequacy – not sure you can do it right. And especially for perfectionists, doing “it” incorrectly feels like a fate worse than death.
Usually I am a very industrious person, but recently, I have been looking at a project that needs to be completed, rather than just getting it done. The project? A pair of footed PJ’s for my 2 year old great grandson. I have made the pattern twice before, and each time have struggled with one step – a gusset that makes it easy for the child to move in various positions and easier for mothers to change diapers. I don’t know how I accomplished it with the first pair I made, but I knew it took me a while to figure out the puzzle. The second time (a year after the first), I struggled for 3 days without success, took it to a fabric store in town, who couldn’t figure it out either, and told me that the pattern was crazy. Finally I went down the street to a new neighbor whose son had told me that she is “quite a crafter.” It took us 1 ½ hours to get it done. This time, I was determined to do it MYSELF! I played and played with it, and finally have it basted in. I’ve looked at it now for 3 days, and if I expect these PJ’s to fit Ezekiel, I’d better get busy, or he’ll outgrow them before he gets them!
You see how important TRUST (step #1) is? One has to trust oneself first before moving on to independently getting the project accomplished!
So ask yourself some questions, and answer honestly:
- Do you have projects that need to be done, and you avoid doing them?
- Are you fearful that you’ll do them wrong?
- Are you just so busy with many this n’ that’s, that you don’t make time for what’s important?
- Do you start projects and not finish them? Do you think it’s because you fear they’ll be done wrong or inadequately?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, where are you between lazy and workaholic?
- If you are a workaholic, what could you be compensating for that takes you to that extreme?
- Do you need to go back a step or two or three to honestly ask yourself if you’ve developed the previous steps?
A person who is INDUSTRIOUS starts and completes a project within a reasonable time frame, and does an acceptable or excellent job. If the job done is poorly done, the industrious person will redo it. This person doesn’t do one project and then refuse other tasks that are his/her responsibility, simply because they have accomplished one thing. They plan out their time and their energy, and get their tasks done, without totally exhausting themselves all of the time.
Consider doing one project this week – a project that you have been putting off because you think it’ll take too much time and energy or because you think you may do it ineptly. See how you do! Chances are good that if you can accomplish that task, you’ll feel and be more industrious with other projects.
We’d love to hear about your successes. Send responses to: Nancy@fixablelife.com. Have fun!