On starting

If there is one thing I’m absolutely expert at, it’s not finishing projects. I am a serial starter, an absolutely fantastic middle-of-the-project doer, and an expert project quitter. I know when to quit. And I do.

I’ve quit gardening. I’ve quit German, the language, entirely. I’ve quit living in Japan. I’ve quit knitting and French Horn lessons. 

In fact, if there is anything that has been successful in my life, it’s been the ability to recognize the need to quickly jettison a project, an idea, a thing, and move on.

But until recently, I kept this a secret. Somehow, while our design processes celebrate iteration and throwing things away, our culture scorns switching and quitting. We don’t celebrate stopping things, changing our paths, or our minds. Just the opposite. We celebrate finishing things.

Human beings have an “inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise their capacities, to explore and to learn.“ —as told by Dan Pink

We’re so busy tracking completion — how many miles run, books read, calories burned, cities visited — that we forget to remember a project’s value in the first place. In our race just to finish, we underestimate the benefits of quitting. I want to come out of the unfinished project closet. I want to consider the benefits of starting.

Despite my dozens of inactive blogs, unrealized side projects, and fallow domain names, next week, I start (another) new side project. And thus begins another new possibility for uncertainty, for quitting, and for happiness.

I’m ready.