Taking the first step matters – so do all the others

In file folders on my laptop, I have a number of projects I’ve started, and never finished.

In my studio, on shelves and in drawers, tucked into drawing pads and sketchbooks, I have a number of projects I’ve started, and never finished.

Pithy words about ‘starting’ abound. We talk about one door closing and another opening, about the journey of a thousand steps beginning with one. About how to begin anything you must take the first step.

And all of that is true. Taking that first step is important. The next step and the next are also important because, the fact remains, without follow-through, you will never cross the finish line.

When I stop to survey my started/not finished accumulations against my completed projects, I find there exists a delicate tension between the two.

I could look at the ‘started/not finished as an example of my failures, my lack of discipline, commitment, staying power.


I could see them as stepping stones that taught me invaluable lessons along the way.

Sure, I sentenced some of them to the pile of forgotten flotsam that crowds cupboards and drawers, but, each of them helped improve my techniques, my abilities, my capacity to create, AND my understanding of myself.

Each piece of forgotten flotsam adds value to the whole. And the whole picture, actually the whole truth, is… the projects I have completed are the ones where my follow-through was motivated by my passion to cross the finish line.

But, here’s the thing.

The reason I don’t cross the finish line on some projects isn’t that I don’t have the discipline or willpower to not ‘give upl.

The reasons I don’t cross the finish line on some projects are more a complex psychological dance with internal messaging about my self-worth than a ‘this art isn’t good’ kind of decision-making process.

Finishing a project is exciting. Fun. Self-rewarding and satisfying.

Not finishing is an opportunity to grow my self-awareness, to strengthen my commitment to me and my journey, and to learn and grow through every step of that journey.

And, isn’t that what life is all about? Learning from this journey that grows in value with every step we take.


9 thoughts on “Taking the first step matters – so do all the others

  1. This posting gave me quite the chuckle. So glad to hear that artisans’ other than quilters have “unfinished” projects they admit to. Not sure why a number of my quilt projects are in various stages of “work in progress” status. At times I may be bored, or my imagination has stalled or I simply need to step away, contemplate and refocus. However, then comes the moment of oops, I need a quilt for a gift, a baby on the way, a wedding, whatever the reason may be. I dive into my stash of UFOs (unfinished objects) et voila, there is an unfinished quilt that can be finished and presented. A bit of panic does set in but I have always worked best under pressure. That first step on the road of completing an UFO is one of satisfaction, knowing that the creative juices are flowing once again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It all comes back to the “I am not enough” and I am not worthy”. It’s the underlying part of so many of us. The works of Tara Brach and John j Prendergast are powerful and kind ways to navigate this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am very goal oriented, so it’s rare for me not to finish what I start. Especially quilting. One at a time. Start to finish which I think is partly my job as well. One doesn’t just quit operating when they get bored. They finish, clean up and move on. Same for me. But that’s just me. Plus I hate piles- I will leave something sitting where it will drive me crazy so I then finish it and move it. Bernie


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