Stop making excuses and finish your projects
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.