When we get close to the end of a project, we worry about having a strong finish. We torment ourselves about achieving our initial goal. When we’re not far enough along and a deadline is rapidly approaching, we look for a way to close the gap. Occasionally we allow ourselves to become desperate. When we get desperate, we get stupid. When we get stupid, we make a last-ditch effort and swing for the fences.
This works out sometimes and we do what needed doing, but usually we just make a fool out of ourselves. We say things we wouldn’t normally say, do things we wouldn’t normally do. And not in the, “stretching what we’re capable of.” Our ambition gets in the way of our integrity.
Have big goals. Work hard. Just don’t ever let yourself get desperate in how you achieve them. You’ll regret it. Trust me, I’m talking from experience here. If you find yourself coming to the end of a project and you don’t know what to do, I want to make an unconventional suggestion: seriously consider “failing” this time around, then regroup and try again.
Don’t just quit because you think you’ll fail. Work until the end of any obligation (self-imposed or otherwise), do whatever you can to get where you need to go, but stay true. Being disappointed with a short-term failure is far easier to overcome than a long-term disappointment in yourself. This isn’t only true for the end of a project, it’s just as often that we’re not as far along in a project, a career or our lives for that matter. Long-term course correction and continuing to foul off might not seem like enough, especially as a deadline approaches, but doing things the long, hard, stupid way (as Frank Chimero put it) has its benefits.
Tomorrow I come to the end of a year-long project here on the site. I had specific goals and through trial and error (emphasis on the error), I came to specific ways that I wanted to achieve them. As the end approached and that inevitable fear that I wouldn’t achieve some of my goals set in, the urge to swing for the fences set in. I wanted to forgo what I had decided along the way in order to end on a high note. I’m glad I didn’t and I look forward to sharing both what I learned and how things played out over the next two days.