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.
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.
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.