You know how exciting it is to start something new? It’s a lot less exciting to keep it going once the novelty is gone. I’ve learned a couple lessons from that myself and I want to share them with you.
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You know how exciting it is to start something new? Extremely. For me, I love to learn new things and put a new project in motion, but when the shininess wears off, so does my enthusiasm, and it’s not long before another “best-new-thing” hits the trash can.
Last year my wife and I started a blog called “Eating Vegan in Grand Rapids“. We signed up for the social media accounts, created a free WordPress.com domain, and put together a logo.
But you know, we never really went anywhere with it after the first run of excitement. We never finished a single draft or talked much about continuing our efforts with the website. There was another vegan website for our city that had disappeared for some reason earlier in the year, which is why we started our own. But then we heard that it was coming back, and that discouraged us from working on our own website. That combined with the holiday busyness and other parts of our life really put EVGR on the shelf.
So what can you do to maintain momentum on a project with fading appeal?
- Evaluate: What would make it worth it to you to keep going?
If you’re going to continue it, it has to be worth it to you in some way.
Maybe you’re looking to generate a small side income with your particular project, as Nicole and I still hope to do with Eating Vegan in Grand Rapids. So then you may want to consider how much of your time that will it take, before you can begin making money; how much effort will you have to put forward to maintain it; and what is the potential for growth in the future?
Or maybe this project is a part of a hobby you enjoy. Money doesn’t have to be the only motivating factor. A lot of photographers, myself included, like to display their work online, just for show. The great thing about hobby projects is that they can be a nice stress reliever and you get to show off! (If it’s a public project like a website.) Engaging your personal interests is a perfectly fine reason to make a project worth it.
- Do you have time?
Now, this is a filter that really punches me in the face sometimes. If I worked properly hard on everything little thing that I’ve started, I would probably never sleep, eat, go to work, or spend time with my wife.
So here’s a real bombshell: If you’re going to make a project successful, you’re going to have to work hard on it. Shocking, right? Remember that you’ve got only 24 hours in the day, and you probably have other responsibilities (unfortunately, your children want to see you once in a while. It’s a real bummer). You can’t spend 40 hours a week on your job AND 40 hours on each of your 20 personal projects AND take part in your relationships AND sleep and eat, etc. Also a bummer.
So use Filter #1 to prioritize what’s important to you, what you really want to spend your limited time on. My pastor Jeff Manion has written several books, but he told our church that he didn’t really start writing until his kids were pretty much grown up and out of the house. He just had to spend his time on raising his kids – a wise priority.
- Will it improve your life or that of others?
Maybe an obvious question, but really think about it. If it’s not going to make a difference for somebody, then is it really worth doing? It doesn’t have to make HUGE difference, like erase poverty from the face of the earth. It can be something small, like putting a smile on someone’s face, or just the pleasure of learning something new for yourself.
One of my favorite authors, Jon Acuff, started a satirical website poking fun at the oddities of Christian culture from an insider’s view. He wasn’t trying to start a cultural revolution with it, he just wanted to make people laugh. Eventually, though, that website led to him writing his first book and gave him experience he used to jump ship from corporate life and he’s now a full time author and speaker. (He also wrote a book connected to this conversation about finishing projects and goals, called Finish. Clever title, right?)
Remember, you don’t have to be Mother Theresa or Mahatma Gandhi to make a difference. It doesn’t have to alter the course of human history. But if you can make a real, tangible difference for someone with your project, then consider if that’s not worth doing after all.
I hope this gives you some ideas to chew on. Learn from my mistakes! I’m like an eager puppy chasing squirrels. That lack of focus might make for a fun hobby website, but is not likely to produce a meaningful, sustainable project. Focus on what you want to accomplish and make it happen!
- I’d love to hear from you, what was something you created when you first got started that you were really proud of?
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I’m Dylan, helping you break down your creative barriers, so you can Live Life Creative.