Finish Your Pet Project

Finishing projects is hard. Finishing pet projects is even harder.

Finishing projects is hard. Finishing pet projects is even harder.

Pet projects don't always come with logical motivation. They make you feel a certain way and provide you with the desire to work on them. They are more driven by emotion than some sort of business need.

When you're emotionally involved with something, it's difficult to see the larger picture, to manage it as effectively as you would any other project.

That makes pet projects really tough to finish. You become attached to the project more than what comes out of it. It feels good to be in the working trenches, and you don't want that to end. And if it ends, you worry that the thing you've produced isn't good enough.

(I understand this very much. As an example, I've never published a novel, although I've rewritten my first attempt at least three times.)

It's time to step outside your emotional attachment. You must finish your pet project, even if what the project is producing totally sucks.

Determine what your requirements are and write them down. Even if you're halfway through the project already, put the requirements in writing. Be objective. What does the project need to be considered complete?

Then execute without a need for perfection. Execute against the requirements.

And when you're done, stop. Share. Celebrate. Move on.

Moving on means something different depending on the project. If your pet project was a painting or a novel, then you're left with what you made. But it doesn't mean you can't write a sequel or turn that painting into one in a series.

In other cases, moving on could be iterating on the project and releasing updates to the original thing you made. This works well for products like software and consumer goods.

Finishing a pet project may leave you with something that totally sucks. You feel like you failed. You want to make it just a little bit better.

Let it go. Learn from the process and the project and take those into your next project. And don't be disappointed about the quality. Be proud that you finished a pet project—that's a really difficult thing to do.

And rest assured that if you're passionate and disciplined enough to complete a pet project, a new one will come along before you know it.

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