Not too long ago, Seth Godin wrote a blog post about ignoring sunk costs. His words really made me think about the way I’ve handled projects and ventures in recent years.
I certainly wasn’t always like this, but I’ve grown to have little issue with chucking away projects. Doesn’t matter if I’ve worked on them for hours, days, months, or even years – if the project doesn’t do what I want it to or give any real meaning to what I’m doing now, it’s getting thrown out the window.
The truth is, my best work isn’t always the work that took me hours and hours of tedious labour to crank out. In fact, usually my best work will be quite the opposite.
And when I start a project, even if I’ve poured countless hours into it and it has enormous potential for growth, if it makes me unhappy, I’m still going to scrap it. Those projects that have some potential, but aren’t right for now, I’ll stick on a shelf and wait for the timing to be right to bring back out again. Some things are better to do later, while other projects will never see the light of day again.
I am this way because I feel like it’s one thing to spend a heck of a lot of time working on what results in a dud project, and it’s quite another to spend even more time on that dud project after you’ve seen it for what it truly is – just because you can’t bare to see all the time and energy you’ve already spent on it “go to waste.”
If you spend an entire week working away at a painting that just won’t work itself out – the way I see it, forget that painting and start from scratch. It’s no good to keep painting over and over the same canvas, hoping to turn your sunk time and effort into something beautiful. Chances are you’ll be wasting even more time trying to fix it than if you just took that time to start anew.
Begin over. Get out a fresh canvas. Maybe you aren’t ready yet: try brainstorming for a while.
You can’t find your next big accomplishment if you keep wasting your time on a dud.