Lost on the way to the finish line

If you know anything about my narcissistic psyche, you know that I love a good personality test. So, naturally, a couple years ago, when Strengthsfinder was all the rage at my workplace, I jumped at the chance to take the test and have a consultation with our HR Manager to discuss the results. One of the things that came up in my profile was that I am a “great person to have around at the start of a project”.

And it’s true! I get very enthusiastic about new ideas. I love planning, brain-storming and coming up with ways to implement. And, then, at some point I get bored and lose interest, especially if there is no deadline or sense of impending doom to motivate me. I need the threat of some consequence or failing to meet outside expectations looming over me if I don’t finish things or I won’t finish them at all.

Because of this, I tend to succeed at whatever job I do (lots of consequences and outside expectation to live up to), but tend to lose steam on things when it comes to my personal life. This has been an ongoing challenge when it comes to things like writing, creative projects, dieting, painting my bedroom. If there is no positive pressure, I make awesome plans that get abandoned when I get bored in favor of diving into some other new and shiny thing or am so exhausted from my day job that I just can’t face the thought of doing anything more stimulating than reading other people’s Facebook status updates while watching Psych reruns.

I have deep theories about how if I don’t finish the things I care about, they remain in a perpetually perfect state of hope. My novel can’t suck if it’s not completely edited, right? My blog post doesn’t have to be brilliant, inspired or interesting, if it’s just written off the cuff, right? I can’t find out my voice sucks, if I never sing publicly. I can’t fail at a diet if I never really start it. I can’t find that becoming a counselor doesn’t make me happy after all, if I never try it. Not finishing is a great way to not fail. It’s just not such a hot strategy when it comes to actually succeeding.

Lately, even for me, my motivation to finish anything is severely lacking. I find myself making all these plans of things I want to do (get back into the swing of a daily art project, take classes, write every day, blog more, read more, go for walks, socialize, etc.), and then end up dropping my carefully laid plans after a few days. I’m not sure what my deal is, but I’m even starting to annoy myself. Work me, who is organized and has color coded trackers to track other color coded trackers wants to kick hippie dippy, go-where-your-feelings-take-you real life me in the ass and steal her lunch money.

It is crazy. I put so much energy into something that is just a job, but so little into the things that make me happy. Ask me for a spreadsheet and I’ll have it to you within the hour. Ask me to do something that makes my heart sing, and I can’t put it off for days, weeks, months, even years. Why do these things to ourselves?

So, my promise to myself for this week is that every day I will do something just because it makes me smile. I give myself permission to fail miserably as long as I finish it and hope that in the act of just doing I find that I have created something beautiful (even if it is only beautiful to me).

What have you been putting off that makes you happy?

8 thoughts on “Lost on the way to the finish line

  1. This is such a good post and man do I relate to it. But to answer your question – walking! I was doing it every day forever (lost weight, felt great, loved it) and then stopped for some dumb reason and it’s been really hard to get back out the door. I know it was good for my whole mind/body, but here I sit.

    In an attempt to break out of my winter sloth ways, I’ve been keeping very detailed to-do lists. Something about crossing a thing off makes me want to go on a marker bender and cross everything off. (of course I’ve yet to apply this to walking…)

  2. Good for you! I have been so bad I have actually thought about making a log of the sort I use at work, but filling it with fun things/soul replenishing things. I hate the thought of using it (it is so rigid and not Personal Me at all!), but maybe at least until I develop some good habits, it will help!

  3. I have been using Teaux Deaux, which is a silly name for an awesomely simple on-line list. I actually like that things carry over to the next day if I don’t do them – it lets me see in black and white when there’s something I’ve been avoiding. It just displays a week at a time, so it’s not too overwhelming, which helps.

  4. ha! I can’t believe I spelled it wrong when the link is RIGHT THERE. I meant “teux deux”, of course. (it’s a made up name anyway, so I’m not going to feel TOO bad about it…)

  5. I love this! I was just telling myself today that I wanted to experience what it felt like if I didn’t hold back. I was in the middle of a painting and feeling like every stroke needed to be just right. In the end, I just went for it and was so pleased with the feeling of abandon.

  6. Thanks, Rae! Sorry I never saw your comment before, so who knows if you’ll ever see my response. I haven’t logged in here in ages, but will be doing so more again now. I love that your comment came on my birthday. That feels auspicious! 🙂

  7. The part about “you’re such a good person to have around at the start of a project” sort of made me tear up because all my bosses say that about me. It’s ADD. It sucks. That might not be the way you meant to come across, but that’s what connected in my head. Endgame makes me put my chin on my chest. I’m the idea man.

    1. Leslie – I think for me, it’s something other than ADD. I don’t suffer from it at all at work. I can be very focused and organized when someone’s paying me to or when something HAS to be done. lt happens more with personal, especially creative projects, which I suspect comes more from some jacked-up place of “I’m not good enough/I don’t have anything interesting to say” self-esteem issues than it does from focus. Either way, it DOES suck, but I’m glad I have friends like you who understand it!

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