Have you ever started a new project and stuck to it for awhile before giving up and never working on it again? I sure have.
It got especially bad through the early years of my career where I would start an exciting project, upload code to GitHub for a few weeks, and never work on it again.
These recent years however, I’ve found an appreciation for knowing when to invest time into something and when to abandon it altogether.
Most of the time, that knowing feeling is fun. Am I having fun doing it? The problem with fun is that as soon as a project becomes work, it stops being fun. The challenge through all this is that when a project gets serious enough to feel like work, it has potential if I can motivate myself enough to stick with it.
Each time I’ve started a project and stuck with it long enough until it became work, I have regretted not finishing it in the future. I’ve had opportunities that I truly believe could have changed the trajectory of my life if I just finished the damn thing. These are the types of things where you see the exact same project being published years later by somebody else that isn’t you. Yet you’re reminded that the success whether big or small you’re seeing could very well have been you.
It’s almost that feeling of investing in the stock market early with a no-name company that blows up in a few years, yet you just keep putting your money into something safe because you don’t see any gains today.
I wanted the spoils, but someone was saying “not so fast”. That someone turned to be me. I was sabotaging myself. The unfortunate reality is that I started to realize just how much I would sabotage myself throughout the years when I would work on something new.
Those guitar lessons I took and gave up after a month? Nowhere. That gym routine I had for a few months with a friend? Gone. The side project I stopped working on after half a year of working on with my brother at night? Abandoned.
These last couple years have been years of finishing. The book I started to write in 2020 was published in 2021. The next book I’m starting to write in 2022 will be published too. What is the difference?
I can’t tell exactly, but two main things come to mind: time limits before I can give up and trying things twice. The first being a set time limit before I can abandon it. For things like writing books, I usually give myself a year and usually deliver much earlier. For other things I’ve picked back up like practicing guitar and going to the gym, I instill them into my daily habits with an expiry date of a few months after the last time I do them.
So far, I’ve spent every day doing them. They become easier. They become more fun. I see the results in the mirror and in my ears. The second attempt at each of these things in addition have almost unlocked a life cheat code. I feel unstoppable with them. I’m consistent. I make substantial progress each day. I no longer fear the inevitable plateau because I’m not worried about getting stuck or abandoning hope entirely.
Does this mean I won’t stop doing these things in the future? Absolutely not, but it gives me more hope to try more things twice and not just once.