How many times have we been told the importance of finishing what we start?
Harsh words about “quitters” have been ingrained in our heads since we were just little kids. And so we plug along, completing things simply because we’ve been told it’s the right thing to do, while dreaming of the things we’d rather be doing. Now, don’t get me wrong: there are some things you should certainly finish. Job assignments, medical treatment … please do those things.
For years, I’ve forced myself to work on certain projects, whether or not I enjoyed them, just to get them done. Just to check another item off my never-ending to-do list. I used to keep a basket of unfinished knitting projects that I would reluctantly pick up from time to time, work on for a bit, and then toss them back into the pile. I slogged through books I really didn’t enjoy while looking longingly at the stack of stories I knew I’d love, counting down the time until I could crack one open and spend all day immersed in it.
Then, while working on an issue of Bella Grace, I was struck hard by one of the quotes we chose to share with our readers.
“Don’t settle: Don’t finish crappy books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off it.”
— Chris Brogan
Of course, all of the quotes we choose speak to me, but this one hit hard. With so little free time, why do I — why does anyone really — settle so often with the way I spend it? Why waste my time doing so many things I really don’t want to do, when I can instead be spending it doing things that truly give me joy?
Life has felt a little lighter since I had this realization. I took that pile of half-finished knitted things and pulled out the stitches so I could use the yarn on projects I’ll actually enjoy working on. I now am not hesitant to stop mid-book if the story just isn’t doing it for me. After all, I’ll never get to read all the books I want to read, so why waste my time on the stinkers? The same goes for movies. If I’m falling asleep halfway through, what good does it do to force myself to stick it out until the end?
Granting myself this permission to leave things unfinished has made a significant impact on my life. I feel less pressure, less stress, and less guilt. Isn’t that something we all want?