I’ve done a lot of thinking about this year. I know, we’re done with the first quarter of the year but if you’re a long-time reader, you know I don’t even try to think about the new year until after February when the holidays and birthdays are out of the way.
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The book started it
Right as year two of pandemic mania was coming to a close, I finished the audio version of the book, Finish, by Jon Acuff. It was the perfect read to end the year with. The book really resonated with me and how I’d been feeling lately about my goals and plans.
I’ve been a fan of Jon Acuff since his book Start. Since then, I’ve
read listened to almost all of them. Jon is a very engaging author. I can tell he’s my kind of people by the pop culture references throughout his books. The way he illustrates his points feel very relatable and he tells the kind of jokes that make me giggle for days.
My discovery of Finish came along when I needed it most. I was wrapping up a pretty good year (despite its beginning) and I finally came out in the black instead of red for freelancing, something I thought I’d never be able to do again with heart failure as my new BFF. I was trying to decide, “what’s next?”
In Finish, Jon talks about what happens the day after perfect, also known as the first day we miss working on a goal. Maybe that’s the day you skip Pilates because you have a parent-teacher class after school or you hit snooze on the alarm because you were up late helping the kiddo with their last-minute Language Arts paper that they forgot about. (True story.) Either way, this is the day you usually toss your hands up in the air and shout, “Screw it!” because until that moment you had yet to miss or skip a day of your goal.
Before the end of the first chapter, I knew Jon was talking to me. Finish comes at you with good advice for seeing your way to the end of your goals, understanding your pitfalls, why you give up, and helping you decide what is and what isn’t worth seeing through to the end. And best of all, he does it with humor and no psychobabble that sends you running to a dictionary for definitions and pronunciations. The Day after Perfect is me. Every time.
The yarn, it haunts me
A perfect example of things/goals unfinished is my stack of UFOs (unfinished objects for the non-knitters). 2020 and 2021 saw a big increase in the number of knitting projects I began but didn’t complete. If you count all of the previous UFOs, I’m buried in yarn but let’s be honest, how many of us crafty folks can say every project we start gets finished. Also, I have ADHD, we are famous un-finishers.
Being an un-finisher is something I want to change.
Correction, I need to change.
In my 47 years on this planet, I can count more incomplete than complete projects, including goals. Sure, I have some goals that feel never-ending but goals like knitting projects and my TBR pile of books, are things I believe are easier to complete, or at least they should be.
For example, 2022 already has me tied with 2021 for finished knitting projects. In February I started and finished a hat for one of my boys AND the Principal cowl I started in the summer of 2020. There are more projects taking up space in my bedroom than I have room for.
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In no order of importance: There’s Winston, the sweater Heather likes to pester me about, the Downtown Cardigan I convinced Heather to knit-a-long with me, the #hiberknit2020, which I also talked Heather into, and Stephen West’s 2021 #MKAL (Heather and I started this one together in October or November of last year).
You guys, those are just the knitting projects I can immediately recall. Trust me, there’s MORE.
In my perfect world
If I had my way and unlimited time, money, and resources, I’d be skinny, totally heart-healthy, an author on the New York Times bestsellers list AND all my knitting projects would be complete. I’d probably have a vacation home here in Alaska, and a nice little cottage or bungalow overlooking one of the Great Lakes. Oh…. and a nice little writer’s retreat cabin somewhere. (I haven’t figured that part out yet but it sounds good, right?)
Sadly, that’s not how things work. In fact, every dream, every goal, EVERYTHING requires some element of work in order to make it a reality.
I’ve become painfully realistic about life. It’s not fun.
Jon tells us aiming for perfectionism will kill a goal in a nanosecond. Ok, I don’t really know if it’s a nanosecond but it’s fast. Like, faster than blinking. Jon’s right. Perfectionism has cut me off at the knees more times than I can count. Even my UFOs.
For instance, if I miscount, drop a stitch or any other thing that makes knitters say all the foul words, I stop. I might fuss with it for a bit, see if I can find where I made my mistake, but by and large – I quit. That project goes into a time-out times infinity. It stopped being perfect or I ruined my one-hour-a-day “knit time” goal.
But Jon tells me it’s okay if something isn’t perfect. And Heather. And Stephen West. They all say it’s okay if it’s not perfect. In fact, Jon asks us to reject the idea that the day after perfect means we’ve failed.
I’ve read and listened to Finish four more times since I first borrowed it from the library. Yeah, I know, I should’ve just asked for it for my birthday or bought it myself but I’m
always broke in love with the library.
Making it Fun
This year, I began to look at my pile of unfinished projects with a new perspective. Finishing does feel better than not finishing. I’m invoking that same feeling of satisfaction I’ve felt in the past when I finished a knitting project. And with satisfaction usually comes pride. When I wear something I’ve knit, I always get compliments and the questions, “Did you make that?” And you know what, feeling proud to show off something you made feels a lot better than the shame or frustration you put upon yourself when you quit before crossing the finish line (or binding off for all my knitters).
It not only feels good but IT IS fun. There is a release of endorphins in every finished project. Something else I’ve noticed about wearing/showing off my finished projects – the feel-good emotion doesn’t diminish each time I wear something I made. It actually gets stronger because I’m reminded of the blood, sweat, and swearing it took me to get the project off the needles. Hello, endorphins!
I’m on task to finish my Four Seasons cowl before the end of next month. I’m pretty excited because it’s another 2020 UFO and the color is this dreamy spring-like green.
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Finish, breaks down how to move past the day after perfect. Jon cheers you on, makes you laugh, and gives you actionable steps to make the goals you have more manageable and he’s going to teach you to stop breaking your promises to the most important person you know; YOU.
If you’re a multi-tasker, you’ll appreciate the audiobook is only about five hours long and is read by Jon himself. That equals one Monday-Friday commute, right?
What things are you looking forward to finishing this year?
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