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So often we have been taught to “finish what we start”.

When we were kids, this would be as simple as finishing the meal in front of us, despite our lack of enthusiasm for any sort of vegetable.

When we’re older, we expect to “finish what we start” in the area of schooling, jobs, or whatever project we happen to be working on.

Before you know it, some of us end up applying this same “finish what we start” belief to everyday activities, such as watching a movie or reading a book.

But why do we do this?

What do we ultimately gain from finishing something that we don’t feel enthusiastic about?

What’s the point of continuing a dead end university degree if you know you won’t be using it?

What’s the point of continuing to read a book or watching a movie if, after the first 30 pages/minutes, it’s not getting any better?

Why do we hang on in the unrealistic hope that it will get better? Why not just cut our losses? Why not practice the art of non-finishing?

Persistence and not quitting

The art of non-finishing would seem to conflict with what many of us are brought up believing, namely that we must continue to persist no matter what, and that success comes to those who refuse to quit.

I’m not necessarily disagreeing with that.

But isn’t it better to apply that persistence to something that you are GENUINELY enthusiastic and excited about instead?

Non-finishing and perfectionism

On the other hand, the danger of the art of non-finishing is being a perpetual starter.

By this, I mean being a person who starts a new project every week and never ends up finishing anything due to a perfectionist tendency.

Well, that’s not what I’m advocating at all.

I believe it’s possible to practice the art of non-finishing WITHOUT succumbing to the curse of perfectionism. In the end, it’s really about your excitement and enthusiasm for what you’re doing that matters.

Drop that shit!

So, next time you feel the strong urge to quit something, but feel guilty about doing so because it’s important to “finish what you start”, screw it.

Drop that shit and move on!

If that something ends up being really important to you, you will eventually return to it anyway.

As a final note, I’d like to thank the movie, “The Expendables”, for teaching me the importance of non-finishing, and for holding the dubious honour of being the first movie I actually walked out on.