UFO’s and Commitment

In my basement I have a corner set aside for fiber arts. There are bins of yarn, of thread, of embroidery floss, fabric…. and UFO’s.

What is a UFO? In the crafting parlance, it’s an Un-Finished Object. You start something, then set it aside and start something else.

In one bin, there’s the darling sweater knitted from the neckline to the bottom of the sleeve opening. This was for my son when he was in 5th grade; he’s now 47. And a gorgeous counted cross-stitch rendition of Amazing Grace – started in 1986.  And oh so many more…

I look at them and feel a little guilty, like I should be different.  Are you like that?

What’s going on?

There are two things happening when we start something, then start something else, then start something else – and never finish any of them, and then feel bad about it.

First, we want to taste and experience everything. We’re so intensely curious we’re like little monkeys. When the next curiosity appears, we’re on it, dropping the current project like a discarded banana peel. We are continually on the lookout for what’s interesting.

And second, we judge ourselves for being that way. We are taught to believe we have to choose one thing and stick with it. It’s like we believe the “project police” are stalking us and we’ll somehow be punished for having lots of interests.

But, most of us have obligations and commitments. Life can be hard when we don’t finish what we start.

How can you rein this in and take your life back?

If lack of focus is an ongoing issue for you and you’re unhappy about leaving important things undone, it may have a physical cause. Something like A.D.D. prevents your brain from focusing; a psychiatrist can diagnose and help you gain control.  Get it checked out.

In this case, it really helps to break your projects into short manageable steps. It’s also a great help to have an accountability partner, like a coach, to help you stay on target and complete your work.

Second, if you start to feel trapped by your project, then you may have an issue with commitment.

Most people enjoy dedicating themselves to completion and feel really good when they get results. I think that must be why I love my garden. Planting is a one-day endeavor; watering, weeding and harvesting require commitment.

People who are fearful of commitment feel trapped and never get satisfying results.  It could be we don’t know how to finish; it could be we’re addicted to novelty or it could be we just feel selfish about putting ourselves first.

Three things will help you move past those Dreamkillers:

  • Give yourself permission. It’s OK to be happy doing something you love – and it’s OK to not finish!
  • Be patient with yourself. You can learn anything if you give yourself enough time.
  • Give yourself that time. Realize you can do it all, just not all at once.

You gain confidence when you sustain your effort and gain mastery. That takes commitment. When you focus on a challenging task and complete it, you feel great!

Do you have a stash of UFO’s? How do these suggestions work for you? Tell us about it in the comments below!

2 Replies to "UFO's and Commitment"

  • Nanci Imburgia
    July 26, 2017 (5:46 am)

    I’m sure you’re familiar with Barbara Sher and her book “Refuse to Choose.” I’m definitely a “scanner,” of the type who starts something new and once I’ve learned what I need, I move on to something else – no need to finish. Hence my bin full of UFOs! I’ve given up feeling guilty about them, and every so often I donate them and give someone else the opportunity to finish them (and maybe learn what they need to in the process).

    • Debra
      July 26, 2017 (8:17 pm)

      Yes, Yes, Yes!! Scanners are exactly who I was describing – I love Barbara Sher’s work. So wise. And good for you letting go of the guilt! I love how you reframed it as an opportunity for someone else to complete. Brilliant!

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