Unfinished Projects

“All I ever need is the willingness to do what is in front of me.”  Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th edition, p. 493

What is in front of me?  Is it too big?  Maybe I need to break it down into smaller and smaller “whats” until the “what” that is in front of me is something I’m willing to do.

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Okay, that’s what I wrote last week and couldn’t get any further with it.  I guess it was too hard for me to explain how such a mindset change occurs or even for me to understand how it happened to me.  That beginning of a blog entry became “just another unfinished project.”  <sigh>   (I sigh a lot…)

I’m a creative person by nature and I greet each new project with enthusiasm – LOTS of enthusiasm!  It’s a challenge!  It’s a puzzle!  It’s a ‘blank canvas’ full of possibilities!  One of the best diagnostic tools I have for my depression is whether or not a new idea or project will spark enthusiasm.  When I find that I’m not starting anything, I know I’m facing depression again.

The problem with all this enthusiastic STARTING is the lack of enthusiastic FINISHING.  Maybe not even grudging-drudging finishing.  Currently my craft room is full of little bags of “enthusiasm.”  These bags often used to yell at me, “You never follow through on ANYTHING, do you?”  “You worked hard when it was fun, but as soon as it got hard or repetitive you GAVE UP!”  “Don’t start another project until you’ve finished ALL THE THINGS!”

I used to even feel this way about unfinished books:  every book in my home that still had a bookmark in the middle was an example of my Failure to Follow Through.  As I’ve gotten older and, definitely wiser, I’ve decided that I don’t have to finish every book I start.  If I can put a book down and not want to pick it up again, it is not a Failure on my part; now I feel that an author has a certain amount of time to earn my attention and if that doesn’t happen, then I’m free to stop reading the book.  (Of course I always stopped reading it, but now I don’t have to feel like I SHOULD HAVE finished it.)

And all those Unfinished Craft Projects?  It’s MY choice if I want to ever return to them.  Some of them I can choose right now to recycle – like the half-finished sweater that was SOMEONE ELSE’s unfinished project that I adopted and never even opened the bag.  Others were sidelined because I need to learn a new skill in order to finish them, or they’re relatively low on my priority list.  They can rest quietly in my craft room NOT YELLING AT ME.

As much as I like starting projects, I really do love a finished one, especially if I love it, or love the person I’m going to give it to.  So, after I’ve done some triage with my unfinished projects, I need to have some strategies for finishing.

  • I have a crafting friend with whom I occasionally have a “finishing party”, where we sit and chat while running in the yarn ends or cutting threads.
  • Another idea is to have a deadline:  a baby blanket or quilt needs to be given to the baby while they’re still a baby!  Same for quilts that are entered in contests, or Birthday presents.
  • As usual, for me, meeting regularly with others who are doing similar things helps – I love to be able to show the progress I’ve made on a project, even if it’s nowhere near finished.  This was very helpful when I was making my Pi Afghan (oh, those 1000’s of 2×2” squares!); I needed the encouragement of others to keep going…and going…and going.

The takeaway?  Every unfinished project was started and stopped for a reason.  I may pick up any one of them again with newfound enthusiasm, or let them fade away, or learn another little lesson in perseverance, but whatever I decide, it’ll be MY decision.  I can live with that.

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