Don’t Give Up

To antithesize yesterday’s post a bit, you must not be too quick to surrender failed projects. Give obstacles their due perspective and time before you put your hands up and walk away. If you’re stringing a project along because you’re no longer interested in it, then mark it a failure and leave it be. But if you’re stringing a project along because of obstacles you cannot overcome, take an extra minute to consider the whole thing. What will it take to overcome this problem? Can you do it alone? Do you care enough to inspire the resources of others to help you? If you do not care enough to try and inspire the world with your work, walk away. If you do care, don’t give up and figure it out.

Quitters give up because they don’t care enough. Do not be a quitter. Pick projects you believe in and believe in them until the deeds are done. The second you stop believing, you lose.

Finish What You Started

I’m not very good at this. I start so many projects that never see the light of day. I’m great at starting things; not so great at finishing them. What’s worse? I can never seem to let failed projects die. They pile on my desk and continue to distract me from the latest and greatest. I tell myself, “Maybe someday I’ll crack the code to this one and solve it.” But that hasn’t happened yet. Not for a single project. Only the current, active and relevant projects of mine tend to succeed.

I think you can ‘finish’ incomplete projects. You can repackage them as failures and label the package with lessons learned. That way, reminders of that project call back to useful takeaways instead of a meandering nostalgia. You can consolidate the evidence and pack it into a box. You may even need to set the box free. I’ve burned notes, posted rough drafts to the internet, buried files on a hard drive and given mementos away. I routinely publish and share my failures with the world to save people from making the same mistakes. Other times, I just hit the delete key.

More often than not, it’s better to let go. Think about it like you’re shedding baggage – not taking your pet out back and shooting it. Losing weight is a good thing. Losing distractions, even by your own creation, can be great for you, too.

Double Check

It can’t hurt to guarantee that you have all of your ducks in a row. Checking twice or more can help ensure that nothing is out of line. It might feel like nagging to ask the same question more than once, but the annoyance here will hurt much less than the alternative. No matter whose fault it is, you’ll end up feeling like an ass for not making sure. Don’t be that person. Double check instead.

Consistently Persistent

Do you have plans to write a book? Make a film? Start a company? Do you work on them every single day?

You do not achieve goals by taking breaks here and there, chipping away when you feel like it. You achieve goals by consistently persisting forward and never taking a day off. Thirty minutes per day yields better results than three hours once per week. If you take a break, you will lose momentum. Lose momentum, and your passion project may fade to the back of your mind. You will lose.

If your mission is tied to your very core, then maybe you can survive output droughts. To intertwine your mission to your core in the first place, you need to consistently believe in it. There are feature films I have wanted to produce since I was eleven years old. I have no polished screenplays or financing to show for them, no plans to produce anytime soon. I touch these projects once every few months at best. But I wake up at night after dreaming about them every so often. They will not leave me alone. To make the films, however, I need to commit. I will need to start making daily progress to finish them. They will never get made otherwise.