Method Addiction


If you’ve ever been part of any subset of society that shares similar end goals, you often find that for some people—maybe even yourself at times—the method that gets you to the end goal can become an end in itself if you let it. As a designer and artist, I see it among people who swear upon certain specific grid systems or interpretations of the golden ratio. As a Catholic, you find it among people to adhere to specific spiritual practices: charismatics or traditionalists or advocates for Divine Mercy, etc. Adhering to a particular method is of paramount importance, and anyone who doesn’t see the brilliance of that method is doing it all wrong.

Why is this? I think it’s because we all trust personal experience more than anything else. Our personal experience tells us that this method works for us, hence it is valid. The other methods—many of which we may have tried, many other which remain abstract in our minds—do not work as well. But leaning too hard on our own personal experience can lead us to forget that other people don’t necessarily have the same minds, personalities, work habits, or spirituality that we do. What works as a method for us might not for someone else. They have their own personal experiences.

That’s when we should remember the end goal. Is it beautiful design or artwork? Is it sanctity? Is it healthy habits? If someone’s method is working toward that end goal, that’s all that should matter. In fact, trying to get someone to embrace a method they aren’t suited to may end up damaging their ability to achieve the end goal.

Another thing that can happen if you’ve become a method purist is to elevate that method to actually represent your end goal. Then if you end up failing to follow the method to the letter, you’ve failed in your faith, or gotten sloppy in your work, or fallen off the wagon health-wise. Not so—reexamine your actual goals.

This doesn’t mean that methods should be downplayed or abandoned. I’ve found many great methods for working, praying, drawing, designing by reading books or articles by people who are enthusiastic evangelizers for their favored method. But at the same time I think it’s important not to feel hurt when a method that works for you ends up not working for someone you’re trying to help, or if you hear someone saying that one of your favorite methods didn’t work for them.

Here’s to achieving goals!