It turns out that I am a really great starter, but not much of a finisher.
I’m disappointed to learn this. Especially since the lesson has been quiet expensive.
I probably should have realized it sooner (since Andy has been hinting at it for a while - when I told him what I was writing about he laughed really hard and said, “that’s funny!”) but some truths about ourselves are hard to accept.
In the past, whenever I’ve had to acknowledge my lack of follow through I’ve chalked it up to either too little time or too many interruptions. There is always something outside of me to blame for my lack of followthrough.
But, I’m noticing that there are two more more accurate reasons, ones that have to do entirely with me, that I leave some ambitions unmet.
Recently, I made an expensive start and feeble finish because my sense of self is a few days/months/years behind.
I just spent a pretty penny on a 24-day diet challenge.
You know, vitamins, minerals, meal shakes... It was a three week program to cleanse, energize and drop weight.
I made it about two weeks in with only minor deviance (one fourth of a cookie, a scoop of ice cream and a pina colada to be exact) from the program and discovered no changes in my weight, measurements or energy level. It was then that I discovered that as far as my body goes, I’ve hit a “set point” that I’m comfortable with. To move to a different set point in my health is going to take major adjustments. It was also then that I stopped trying - in other words, I quit.
Truth be told,
with just a few days left,
I’m making my way through
a pint of Ben and Jerry’s
“Everything But The” ice cream,
which is most definitely
not allowed on the plan.
After two years of consistently making it into the gym 3-5 times a week and training with weights I am no longer a girl who “struggles with her weight.” My sense of my body’s needs is still somewhat based on who I was, not who I’ve become.
I could probably cut down on my consumption of chocolate and peanut butter, but I work out hard and drink lots of water. I try to eat lots of fruits and veggies and I get creative with the food I feed my family. I’m not a competitive athlete, but I am a mom who can carry both her kids at once and can bust out 100 pull ups when a workout calls for it.
Yes, I actually have done 100 pull ups.
And I’m not afraid to tell you
how awesome it makes me feel!
The best part about my expensive flop is that I gained a much more accurate sense of who I am NOW. So, when it comes to the next offer for a vitamin pack, or when I’m tempted to make major adjustments to my diet, I hope I remember that a world of good will come from simply eating an extra serving of veggies and getting an additional hour of sleep.
The other reason I often don’t finish things is that once I start them I realize that the end result/goal is not as important as I thought it was. Or, that the effort that is required to see something all the way through will be more than the benefit I will receive from finishing.
Imagine you decide it would be cost effective and incredibly cool to make your own coconut milk yogurt instead of paying close to $2 per serving at the health food store.
Then, imagine that to undertake this task you purchase a yogurt maker.
Then you find some recipes.
Then you make some yogurt because everyone says it is so easy and the most delicious thing you will ever eat.
Then you taste your yogurt and it is neither delicious nor actually yogurt - it is more of a warm, white soup that turns into cold, white soup after you refrigerate it.
So then you do some more research and make a second attempt.
Second verse, same as the first.
So, the yogurt maker goes in the garage, joining the collection of rejected small kitchen appliances.
Because really, how many attempts should you make before you say, homemade yogurt is just not worth it?
I have a lot of unfinished business revolving around small kitchen gadgets. Other frequent visitors to my dusty shelves of “good ideas...but...” are heath food trends, craft projects, celebrations, and ambitious home organization (I get just far enough to make a huge mess, and then never get around to the final, clean and tidy part).
Now that I’ve identified my tendency to pile up projects, I’ve been able to find some good in the midst of it. In all of my enthusiast starts and weak finishes I’ve discovered a few ways to NOT finish well.
Trust me on these, I’ve left a lot of things un-done.
Having a mountain of unfinished projects in the closet can be a little embarrassing. But the reality is, if they didn’t get finished, they probably aren’t life-changing. Let yourself be teased and acknowledge that yes, you actually don’t get everything done that you start.
Count the Cost
If you are like me, you love the idea of a package.
I love things that come in a set, or that look pretty upon purchase. I’m a sucker for marketing and have a long list of key words that practically guarantee that I’ll whip out my wallet.
To say that I’ve wasted money on good intentions is an understatement. However, while I know that most of us don’t WANT to waste money, I’ve found myself in a season of life that my budget isn’t terribly tight. For me that means that leaving projects unfinished isn’t going to break my bank account.
If you are going to give up something essential to start a project you might not finish - don’t do it. The joy of unfinished projects is letting them stay unfinished without guilt - you can’t do that if you know bills didn’t get paid AND your good intentions didn’t bear fruit.
For all the things that I have begun, but not seen to the end, their are a handful of projects, hobbies and undertakings that I HAVE finished and they have become treasures to me.
If I thought of myself exclusively as someone who “fails” because I don’t finish, I would most likely miss out on many wonderful experiences. I might save some money or avoid some teasing, but my life would lack richness.
There will be many, many, many more times that I start and don’t finish. But, if there are a few finishes that add beauty and character and charm to my life, then all of those starts are worth something.
My name is Emily, and I’m proud to be a starter.