3 Lessons I Learned By Starting Too Many Projects

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.

Recently my wife and I have begun reviving the blog “Eating Vegan in Grand Rapids“, which we had started last fall, but never actually published any articles on (although I did start a solid draft of a restaurant review). We signed up for the appropriate social media accounts, mobbed a free WordPress.com domain, and prototyped some logos.

A screenshot of the homepage of our new-old blog
A screenshot of the homepage of our new-old blog

But you know, we never really went anywhere with it. We never finished that draft or talked much about continuing our efforts with the website. We had heard that another popular vegan website for our city was coming back online (it had disappeared for some reason earlier in the year), and that discouraged us from creating our own resource on the topic. That combined with the oncoming holiday busyness and preparing for a huge popup shop opportunity for our other business, Burly Bison Bakery, put EVGR on the shelf.

So what can you do to maintain momentum on a personal project with fading appeal?

1. Evaluate: What would make it worth it to you?

If you’re going to continue it, it has to be worth it you. So ask yourself this, what would make it worth it to keep it going?

illustration-of-money

Maybe you’re looking to generate a small side income with your particular project, as Nicole and I hope to do with Eating Vegan in Grand Rapids. So then you may want to consider how much of your time 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 does this project 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 (ahem). 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 such as a website.) Engaging your personal interests is a perfectly legitimate reason to make a project worth it.

2. Do you have time?

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.

multi-tasking-illustration

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 probably want to see you once in a while. 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, who has written several books with some success, told our church that he didn’t start his writing until his kids were largely grown up and out of the house. He just had to spend his time on raising his kids – probably a wise priority.

3. 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, however, that website led to him writing his first book and gave him valuable experience he used to jump ship from corporate life and become a full time author and speaker. (He also wrote a book relevant to this conversation about finishing or continuing projects and goals, called Finish. Clever title, innit?)

mahatma-gandhi-statue

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.

If you like this article, and want to learn more, then I would encourage you to join the Variety Show, where I share stories and tips on living a multi-creative life. Now, focus on what you want to accomplish and make it happen!

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