The fear of finishing

The fear of finishing

It likes to dress as perfectionism and it claims that things have to get just that tiny little bit better before you finish this.

Or it dresses as politeness, telling me not to bother people right now; better to wait just a little bit longer for that perfect moment.

It blames lack of resources and explains that if only it had double the budget, it would and it could …

And it reminds me that, to be totally honest, I actually lack the expertise so I should rather attend one more seminar first.

But in the end it’s all just a clever conspiracy to prevent me from finishing and publishing my work.

It is the fear of finishing: As soon as I finish I have to show my work. And that means that I’m going to be evaluated.

What if they don’t like it?

It is this discomfort that the fear of finishing wants to protect me from at all costs. That’s why it appeals to my inner self: Why don’t you just do that one last round of improvements?

I like Steven Pressfield’s take who, in his excellent book “The War of Art”, personifies this massive inner resistance as an elemental force of the universe. This resistance has one single goal: to prevent me from finishing and publishing my work. It will not rest until I give up and it will never give in.

The first step in overcoming the fear of finishing is to become aware of it. Then you’ll see it everywhere. And you’ll find yourself giving it euphemistic names: patience, endurance, perfection, …

The thing is this: In the end only one can win: Either the resistance or me. Either I publish or I don’t. Either I make the pitch or I don’t. Either I pick up the phone or I don’t. Either I go on stage or I don’t.

So, pay it forward and fight the resistance without mercy. Because done is better than perfect. And when it’s done, the resistance has lost.

Publish your work!
(No one else is gonna do it for you. No one will ever knock on your door and say: “Do you happen to have something that you want to show me?” You have to do it yourself. By all means, make it as good as you can. Even better if you want to. But, please finish and publish it!)

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz


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