As a writer and as a speaker, I have aborted hundreds of storylines, hundreds of attempts at concept development, hundreds and hundreds of paragraphs of half-formed ideas. As a human being, I have invested in relationships which haven’t worked out, and one-tenth tested business ideas that may or may not have been worth pursuing if I had only bothered to investigate them more fully.
And I have lived in guilt. I’ve carried it around with me, ignoring it for the most part but always aware that if I was actually any good at all, I’d do something about all these things.
Recently however, I fixed all that. I did do something about them. I took a torch to the whole damn lot.
Here’s why: I know I’m pretty funny. I know I can be insightful sometimes. I know I think too much about everything, but generally draw fairly accurate conclusions. Not because I’m smart, but because I’m 42 and basically interested in everything under the sun and over a period of a lot of years, I’ve asked a trillion questions.
What it means the way I see it is that I can replicate in spirit every worthwhile bit of work that I have ever created. I can have the same ideas again or even better ones. And perhaps the old ideas that didn’t get my follow through were the failures, not me. Because you can’t do everything.
Now if this just sounds like I’m cutting myself a bunch of slack, I have news for you: I am.
I don’t do enough of that; I don’t think any of us do. I put more energy into beating myself up about the things I start but do not complete than I do into actually completing them because it’s not the projects themselves that matter as much as the way I connect them to my unresolved definition of personal achievement.
In the face of three brand new and I believe, defining projects, I just don’t want to have to deal with the fallout any longer. So I’ve killed them all. Should you do the same?