Hi, I’m Lue Jun Yi and I’m a finishaholic. I’ve finally decided to come out of the shell of perfectionism.
I admit my addiction to finishalism.
I first discovered my condition through my reading habit. I have a secret rule — read only one book at a time. The lie I told myself was this: I won’t be able to focus if I’m reading too many at one go. And the problem with the inability to focus? It would stop me from finishing the books. I could count with one hand the number of books I didn’t finish. The Pilgrim Progress — I quiteth for thy servant’s book was verily Shakespearean English, the deep and flowery language liketh to the valley of thy dark soul. Another one was a heretical book — I began with a curious mind but curiosity always kills the cat. It killed my patience too. There were probably one or two more that I’ve deleted off the list lest they haunt me like horror movies. It would be a pretty cool horror movie wouldn’t it? The List of Unfinished Books. It still sends shivers down my spine.
Slowly I started to notice how finishalism has fingerprints in all aspects of my life. I need to wash the plates immediately after the meal, I can’t leave them in the sink unwashed. I need to fold my blanket after I get up, the act to symbolise the completion of my slumber. The camps that I run only end after I restore the last piece of games prop I took from the store room or archive all the emails pertaining to the camps. I get frustrated when issues are brought up but not resolved in meetings. I’ll count the cost, look at all perspectives I possibly could, get my facts and stats right before embarking on a new project. I need to see the light at the end of the tunnel before taking the first step into it. I need conclusions. Badly.
And finishalism is crippling. Sometimes I have noble ideas but never get them kicked off because I can’t see where they would lead me to. I spent so much time analysing what is needed to get the job done, I don’t know where to begin. The fear of not finishing was so real, I ended up being perceived as someone who talks without actions when I share the things I want to do but never get around it. Finishalism also makes me an ugly ogre. Because I have high expectations of myself to finish the tasks I started, I demand the same standard of others. I get annoyed when others do not carry on their responsibilities or leave their work hanging. And I can assure you the feelings are mutual.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking you to give up on the projects you’ve started. I’m not saying it’s OK to just drop whatever you’re doing and start the ten things in your bucket list without fully knowing what they entail. I’m not endorsing blind faith, leaping into the unknown territories like a headless chicken. And I’m definitely not telling you to stop folding your blanket. Swinging to the other extreme of starting but never finishing is just as unwise. Finishing is important and there are things that need to get done. If you’ve been assigned a task to embark on, work on it and look into its completion. Give your best in your workplace, in your home, in your life. Nobody starts a marathon and aims for DNF (Did Not Finish). There’s a difference between finish and finishalism. It’s just that little -ism, the obsession to finish rather than finishing itself.
So I’ve decided to fight finishalism. First thing I did? I’m reading three books at the same time now. The old Jun Yi would be appalled even at the thought of it. I’m setting limits to the information I need to acquire before starting on a project. I’m learning to embrace YOLO (You Only Live Once) — just bite the bullet and start something by faith with sufficient knowledge of what I’m going to do. I’m waking up early in the morning to write, a hobby I said I wanted to pursue more diligently two years ago. I get others to keep me accountable. I’m telling myself over and over again that I can quit if it doesn’t work out — I don’t need to complete it at all costs. Quitting is an option, and it doesn’t make me a loser. I’m beginning to take one step at a time. And more importantly, I don’t need to be hamstrung by the fact that I need to give this composition a proper finis -