I’m pretty good at coming up with ideas and beginning a new project with great enthusiasm and excitement and pushing, pushing, pushing forward . . . until I get bored. Or distracted. Or simply lose that initial spark. Or . . . something.
For a long time, I beat myself up over all those false-starts. I bought into the idea that if you start something, you should finish it. Always. And if you don’t finish something you start, that means (cue dramatic, doomsday music): FAILURE.
And not only that! It also becomes a blot on your Human Record, as if there is someone out there keeping a big ole chart of your achievements, tsking and shaking his or her head every time you let another idea for a novel drop into computer file oblivion or whenever that seemingly easy peasy Pinterest project turns into the glitter vortex of hell.
Eh, I’m over it.
The turning point came with a realization:
I’ve followed through on plenty of things in my life — things that really mattered to me, things that I committed to and never wavered from, things that I made the time for.
I have a few academic degrees and passed a couple state bar exams, for instance, which whoop-dee-do in the grand scheme of things, but for me, those were huge commitments, and I followed through. More recently, in 2011, I started a law school personal statement consultancy business, which quadrupled in clientele in just its second year, thanks mostly to the ebook I put out last August (another FINISH!). And I’ve completed countless crafty projects, namely several intricate cross-stitch samplers, which have been gifted over the years.
I don’t list these accomplishments to toot my own horn but to show myself that, hey, you know what? I can finish what I start when I really want to.
So I go back to the second paragraph of this post — that “something” that has derailed me on some past projects. Hmm….
Could it really be so simple?
Yeah, it really can be.
When I look back on projects that have fallen by the wayside, it’s rather easy to see why they faltered — notice *they* faltered, not I faltered. At this point in my life, I am more comfortable than ever in trusting my instincts to tell me which projects deserve my time and energy and which just don’t. Bonus?
During that trial and error process, we learn so much about ourselves and our true passions.
So I’m OK with letting some things go. I have to be.
As my dear friend Diana Strinati Baur in the north of Italy so eloquently points out:
“We can’t simultaneously be glassblowers, knitters, potters, fine artists and sage advice-givers. It’s simply not possible.”
We not only can but we *must* pick and choose and devote our energy to only those pursuits that are truly the most important to us — or as Diana writes, “figure out what’s yours” and focus.
But, hey, you’re more than welcome to think that whenever you or I or anyone else abandons what turns out to be a misguided project from the get-go that we’re quitters or failures.
My response to that echoes The Big Lebowski aka The Dude:
Now go forth and give yourself permission to choose wisely.
And finish what you start! Or don’t. That’s cool too.