After spending several weeks talking about why you and I don’t finish those deadline-free projects and the hidden costs therein, it may seem odd to now ask you:
Is every project worth the struggle to finish?
But I think it is an important question to ponder because finishing a project is hard work.
Just think about all the resistance you have to push through to reach the finish line of “project done:” re-orienting your perception of time; checking your mindset; and managing your physical and emotional energy.
Plus, we live in a culture that shuns quitters. As a result, abandoning projects is seen as a failure. Better to have it hang in the purgatory of “incomplete,” than to make the deliberate choice to let it go and move on to something else. But, is that wise?
Is there ever a time when pulling the plug makes sense?
And how do you, as objectively as possible, make such a determination?
Here are a few suggestions…
Profile Your Projects
Is your project knowledge-based (like writing a book); labor-based (like organizing my closets); or creative-based (like painting)? Is it an experiment or a commitment?
Is your project knowledge-based and an experiment, or knowledge-based and a commitment?
Is it labor-based and an experiment, or labor-based and a commitment?
Is your project creative-based and an experiment, or creative-based and a commitment?
Regardless of the type of project, I suspect pulling the plug on what you’ve determined is an experiment is a lot easier than doing so on a commitment.
Profiling also involves asking yourself what is it you’re waiting on. The presumption being that that is part of the reason you’re struggling to finish your project.
For example, if it’s knowledge-based, are you waiting to acquire more skills; if it’s labor-based, are you waiting on a special tool or physical help from others; if it’s creative-based, are you waiting on inspiration?
I suspect it is a lot easier to pull the plug on a project you wouldn’t move forward – even if you had everything you needed to finish it.
I believe project profiling matters because finishing isn’t just about discipline or willpower. And sometimes you need a little help giving yourself permission to quit.
The “why” or what makes this project important to you no longer matters.
In his best-selling book, “Start With Why,” author Simon Sinek states that everyone has a “why.” It is the purpose behind what you do and why you make the choices you make.
I believe every project has a why, too. The “why” might be financial; it might be emotional; it might be for the purposes of recognition. Or, it can be any combination of these.
If you can’t quickly and easily describe your project’s why, it’s probably not worth struggling to finish.
The reward you were anticipating once you are finally “finished” no longer feels worth the effort and the sacrifices.
Every investment has a return on investment attached to it. Investing in the stock market. Investing in real estate. Investing in a relationship. Investing time, money, attention, and effort into your project.
If your project won’t yield your “why” or the benefits thereof, it might be time to quit.
You’ve fallen for the sunk-cost fallacy.
You’ve convinced yourself you can’t quit because you’ve already invested “too” much time and money. And, you feel as if you would have wasted your resources and sacrifices if you quit now.
If this is the only reason this project is still on your to-do list, the struggle to finish doesn’t really seem worth it.
Apathy has set in.
Every project reaches a stage where a bit of boredom sets in. Usually around the point when it gets a bit harder or requires you to stretch beyond your knowledge, financial, emotional or physical capacity. But boredom is not to be confused with disinterest.
When you’re project feels void of meaning (back to the “why,” again), it may mean quitting is the absolute best thing to do.
Your priorities have changed.
Circumstances and conditions of life change all the time. Often times, having an impact on your priorities. Unfortunately, you don’t always see how an unfinished project may be the result of priorities that have changed, but gone unacknowledged.
As you can tell, I am of the belief that quitting can be the smart and right choice. That some of your projects aren’t worth finishing.
But for those that are, it’s time to fight for them by getting better at finishing the unfinished — by finishing what you start.
p.s. We have a few seats left for the next Comfort Circle dinner on September 25th where we’re going to help you go from unfinished to finished. Whether your project is personal, professional or financial, we can help you get unstuck, take control and move forward. Click here to learn more and RSVP.