Imagine I'm a NJ resident trying to commute to work in the morning. How useful is it to try and drive over a bridge that is half constructed?
Imagine I'm a baker trying to create a successful business. How many sales will I make if the pastries are half-cooked?
Imagine I'm trying land a job against a large pool of applicants with impressive resumes. How competitive would I be if I finished only half my college courses necessary for the degree that is required for the position?
Do the Math, Make a Graph
In the scenarios above, cost and realized value have completely different curves. While cost is generally paid over the entire timeline, the full value of the effort isn't realized until the very end. Here's a crude mockup:
Expanding upon the bridge example. Let's assume that I'm 90% through the budget and the bridge spans 90% of the distance between the two pieces of land I'm trying to connect. Can vehicles use this? Unless every driver has Evil Kenevil like confidence in jumping a gap with a ramp, the bridge has no usable value for commuters until it's 99+% complete.
Achieving goals, finishing projects, and shipping art takes a lot of guts, determination, and discipline. It's easy to lose interest and focus after putting in 20-80% of the work and still not seeing any meaningful results. At each point along a project, we face one of 3 choices: keep trying, quit trying, or try something else (e.g. move onto a new bridge).
The danger of the last option is we can end up starting a lot of projects and get no where. I myself find myself amidst a sea of abandon projects (bridges) that took a lot of time but gave me little in the sense of success and accomplishment department. If this happens enough times, we may eventually fall into the 'quit trying' mode.
All Heart, All Done
The best way to approach a project is to go at it with everything you got and take it to completion. Sure you'll hit bumps along the road, experience some set backs, and perhaps change course based on lessons learned along the way. But when you fully embrace something and carry it through to the end, that is when you gain the most.
To stop even 10 feet short of the finish line may undercut all the countless hours you spent. You're almost there, why not get the most benefit from your investment?
Can You Finish One Bridge?
Look around you and notice all the half-bridges you've built. Which one would totally change your life if you ignored the others and completed that one, all-important bridge to the next destination in your life. Can you do it? Do you have the heart to make that journey?
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About Rick Manelius
Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.