Chances are good you’ve started more projects in your life than you’ve finished. Some of them might have even gone on for a long time before you let them fade. If you find yourself faced with letting a project go, plan for its death so you can exit gracefully and move on to the next thing.
Photo by Brian Carlson
As Christina Xu explains on Medium, ending a project isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Ending a project in a way that disappoints the people who relied on you, or leaves others hanging in the lurch is less than ideal. Too often, people let projects die in an unplanned way that results in hurt feelings and broken trust. This can make it harder for people to believe your next project will go well. If you’re always starting something but never see it through, why should they trust you? Instead, plan for a graceful exit when you’re done with something:
The end of something, when unrushed and deliberate, is a time for celebration as well as closure. It’s an opportunity to reflect back on everything that’s happened, good and bad, and how it’s affected you. The end is a chance to tell the project’s whole story, a chance for the community you built to celebrate how they came together in the first place, and for everyone to exchange contact information and pack up their things. It’s a time to say goodbye and thank you, and then look ahead.
Of course, not everyone’s projects are going to be huge public affairs, but if you have even one person working with you on it, it can help to plan an exit. You’re unlikely to gain the support of the people around you if you have a new project each week that you’re “definitely going to finish this time.” However, seeing a project through and ending it when it’s time can inspire confidence, rather than inhibit it.