Before Breakfast - you don't have to finish

Before Breakfast - you don't have to finish
Part 1

Today's tip
is that if you're doing something for fun,
and it turns out not to be fun,
you can stop.
Just because you started,
doesn't mean you have to finish.

Part 2

I know that Before Breakfast listeners
are diligent and persistent people,
so my guess is
that many folks listening to this
have started watching a movie,
and then realized, five minutes in,
that it was going to be a dud.
Yet, you stayed until the end.

Part 3

You have finished books
that you didn't enjoy.
You have eaten a whole order of French fries,
which from the first bite
was irredeemably cold and soggy.
You have dutifully shown up
at a book club every month
even though you dreaded it.

Part 4

What's funny about this
is that people go to movies,
read books, eat French fries, and make social plans
because these things are supposed to be enjoyable.
It's not like your soul
was going to be elevated by that action movie.
Or that the French fries
were going to have any nutritional value.
They are supposed to be fun. Full stop.

Part 5

So why do we continue doing things
that we are supposed to enjoy
if they are not enjoyable?
I've thought about this a lot.
And I suppose
sometimes we go on autopilot.
We stick with what we started because
we aren't really noticing
that we're not getting anything out of it.

Part 6

Maybe other times we are
hoping against hope
that it will get better eventually,
that next French fry will be hot,
or the next book club get-together will be fun.
And then, sometimes,
we may feel guilty or embarrassed or silly
that we've sunk time and money into something.

Part 7

Like maybe that Flamenco dancing class
that we thought we'd like,
but we actually hate.
But you know what?
Even if you have bought the shoes
and paid for the lessons,
you can still stop.
Sunk costs are sunk.
If you are not enjoying
what you are doing for enjoyment,
you can walk away.
Don't spend any more time
in a way that you aren't enjoying.

Part 8

As is so often true,
it is helpful to get clear on your purpose,
because of course there are plenty of things in life
that we are obligated to persist in.
You probably have to persist in your job
until you can find a new one.
You have to persist in a volunteer leadership role
until you can find a replacement.
You have to persist in parenting
until your kids are grown.
Even if the little angels
can turn into little monsters
with some regularity.

Part 9

There are also things we choose to do
for reasons beyond enjoyment.
Even if you don't like to exercise,
you may do it anyway
to keep your heart healthy.
Driving a long way
to visit an elderly relative
may not be fun,
but you love your relative,
and you value family,
so you do it.

Part 10

Perhaps you even hate shopping,
but you do have to get clothes somehow.
There are things we do out of obligation,
and things we do for higher purposes.
But if you are doing something for enjoyment,
and you are not enjoying it,
then something is off.

Part 11

So, remind yourself
that it is OK not to finish.
You can throw away the cold fries,
you can quit the tedious book club,
you can shut the bad book
or walk away from the boring movie.
When you are clear on your purpose,
you'll be able to decide what to stick with
and what to let go of.
Is there anything that you think
you'd be better off quitting?
I'd love to hear about it.

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