Some of the projects I've completed in the past several years include a family history book focusing on my parents and four generations previous, a menu planning system and display, painting our large garage with a 3" brush, & a quilt for my oldest grandchild heading to college
Finishing a Project
The three years preceding retirement was a time of awakening for me in some ways. I discovered that even at this age, I could do things I thought were beyond my capabilities. I painted half of our house and all of a oversized detached garage using a 3" brush. My dad and I installed a farmhouse sink, we built an enclosed garden, we bought a camper and I began revamping it, and our latest project is rebuilding the ramp to our house.
You may be financially able to hire people to do maintenance, repairs, and other projects around your home, and that is wonderful. But if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, consider doing some of these projects yourself.
The secret ingredients to finishing a challenging project, I’ve learned, are tenacity, the proper tools, small steps, and a deadline.
If I had learned tenacity/perseverance in my youth, I could’ve changed the world! But if I encountered struggles and too many barriers when attempting a project, I often gave up too easily. The world’s greatest inventors knew something about tenacity. Thomas Edison, who changed the world with the invention of the lightbulb said, “I haven’t failed; I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Most of us give up too easily and too soon.
Many successful people will credit perseverance as the reason for their success. They may not have been the most talented, the most educated, or the strongest, but they were willing to keep on keeping on when others weren’t, and their tenacity eventually paid off.
There are few things that are as frustrating as not having the right tools for the job. It took me years to learn to go with quality over price (and that doesn’t necessarily mean the priciest tool). The right tool greatly increases the likelihood of completing a project. I’ve asked Dad for a power drill for my birthday so we don’t have to share his. Make a note of the jobs you have to do around the house and ask yourself if a better quality tool would make the task easier for you.
Learning this simple practice has enabled me to finish so many otherwise OVERWHELMING jobs. I broke the task down to very manageable, doable steps, and then focused on what was in front of me at the time rather than the whole, immense project. Before, I would give up before I even started because the job looked too big and impossible.
When we replaced the aging wood siding with Hardie Board on the exterior of half of the house, the painters said they would paint the rest of the house for an extra $1,500. It had taken them only a couple of hours to spray paint the new siding, but Ms. Cheapaskate told them I would do it myself. I didn’t have a paint sprayer, so I used a good 3” brush. I painted for about an hour each day, and the house took me less than a week, including those 17’ eaves. I painted the garage several months later, and working only an hour a day, it was finished in 8 days. I was surprised how much work I could get done in an hour.
I regularly give myself deadlines on projects, whether small or big because it provides a timeframe to finish something. Sometimes my deadlines are overly optimistic; i.e. our weekend farmhouse sink project turned into a week-long task. I hoped to finish the ramp in a week’s time, and we are in our second week waiting on ordered supplies. Sewing face masks for my family turned into a three week project when I struggled to figure out the pattern, which materials to use, and my sewing machine kept knotting up. When I began writing our family history, I was determined to finish it before our family reunion five months away, and I did.
Things tend to remain unfinished if I don’t write it down and give myself a deadline.
I find myself staring at some of the projects I completed, and it gives me a good feeling that I can still do them.
If you need accountability, click the pdf file icon to open and print a blank template of a projects list.