How do you begin to stop?

stop and start

I’m considering a new approach to my annual New Year’s resolution ritual. The whole thing is usually an exercise in frustration for me. I start out with enthusiasm, then gradually stop doing whatever it was I started, and then beat myself up over it.

This year, I may try STOPPING something instead of STARTING stuff.

A friend recently pointed me to an article on the blog “Marc and Angel Hack Life: Practical Tips for Productive Living.” The article begins with a quote:

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
― Maria Robinson, From Birth to One

and continues with an annotated list of 30 things people should stop doing.

So, this year, I may STOP something. Oh, not my usual “stop eating junk food” or “stop being lazy.” Something more like #7 on Marc and Angel’s list: “Stop being afraid to make a mistake.”

I’ve had a problem with perfectionism all my life. It makes it difficult for me to finish projects (but it’s not perfect yet!) and makes me reluctant to try things I haven’t done before (how do I know I can do it right?). Don’t get me wrong. I love learning how to do new things. It’s the actual doing new things that gives me pause, especially when the results will be seen—and judged—by others.

I could start small, with a personal (rather than professional) project. I’ve knit scarves and sweaters, for others and for myself. Maybe I should knit a pair of socks and give them away. Socks involve skills I’ve never tried: using short double-pointed needles (but I drop little things!) and turning heels (there might be lumps!).

There’s a simple pattern with clear directions in one of my knitting books, and I’ve found some lovely, soft, non-itchy yarn. I have two friends who knit lots of socks and can cheer me on.

Come January 1, assuming I’ve finished Andy’s Christmas sweater, I’ll buy me some DPNs, cast on, and stop being afraid to make a mistake!

And, after that, I’ll jump off the deep end with a professional project:  code a WordPress theme from scratch, or teach one of my workshops as a webinar, or publish a book of essays.

We’ll see.

About Kat

Cat lover, singer, early music addict, reads a lot. Former R&D chemist with an obsessive need for variety. Now active as a freelance technical writer and editor, web designer, photographer, computer coach, and trainer. Owner, MasterWork Consulting (
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