Stop making excuses and finish your projects

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Restoring my 1965 Chevrolet Corvair has made me an expert on starting projects. I know how to plan them, budget for them, and prepare for them. I can tell you about the risks of losing momentum. I can also explain how even the smallest project can cost far more than planned.

I’ve written about all of these things. One thing I haven’t written about: actually, you know, finishing a project.

I’ve been working on my Corvair for a couple of years, and I realized a few weeks ago that it has been way too long since I’d felt the joy of crossing something off the to-do list. I longed to feel the satisfaction of cracking open a beer while admiring my work and figuring out what I could do better next time.

This is how the interior of my ‘65 Corvair has looked for months.
This is how the interior of my ‘65 Corvair has looked for months.

I’m not beating myself up over it. Life gets in the way, but telling yourself “I’ve had a lot going on” is an excuse, not a reason. I pulled the interior out of my car in June, and consider it shameful that a new calendar went up and I still hadn’t finished the job.

The drivers seat bottom sat atop my workbench for months in this state. Seemingly mocking me.
The drivers seat bottom sat atop my workbench for months in this state. Seemingly mocking me.

I’d pulled the interior apart, tucked the seats in a corner half-started, and told myself I was “working” on the car. Yes, I ordered parts and had a few things scattered about the workbench, but I wasn’t actually working. Refoaming and recovering a pair of seats isn’t terribly hard, yet I spent more time making excuses than bending hog rings.

Just a few hours work got one seat near completed.
Just a few hours work got one seat near completed.

That changed last weekend. The seats lost their intimidation factor when I decided they’d seem a lot less scary once they were done. I gave myself one job on Sunday, and I accomplished it. Yes, it involved no small amount of swearing. I admit to throwing a few tools after ripping a seam. That meant I lost some time digging around for a needle and thread to repair the damage. By dinner time, though I had a pair of seats sitting on the basement floor, ready to go back in the Corvair. They aren’t perfect, but if I wanted perfection, I would have paid a pro to do the job.

With the newly polished trim installed and the seat backs properly installed, these two seats are ready to go back on the car. Finally.
With the newly polished trim installed and the seat backs properly installed, these two seats are ready to go back on the car. Finally.

The seats look great. I’m happy, but I’m also disappointed that it took me so long, and I’m confused about why I waited seven months to do a job that took seven hours. I wasted so much time being afraid of … what, exactly? Failure? Sometimes the biggest obstacle to finishing a project is having the courage to start it, and confidence in your ability to do it. Overcoming that was harder than bending all those damned hog rings.

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