The next step

I’ve had a woodworking project that has been coming together in the workshop for over two years. It’s almost finished.

But these final stages — the complicated glue-ups, the priming and finishing — these are stages I almost want to avoid. I can feel the temptation to procrastinate.

Here’s the thing: these remaining tasks all involve risk. If I screw up, I could negate hours of progress. Maybe weeks. I could be faced with hours and hours of re-work.

And yet, the final steps must be taken. In order to finish the piece and ready it for installation, there is work to be done, risky or not.

* * *

It prompts me to think of other situations where we hesitate to take the next step because it involves risk. That the next step could ruin some of the good work we’ve already done. That the whole thing might not work.

There’s a romantic allure to work-in-progress. It has promise. It hasn’t faced possible failure because it’s not complete. It still might succeed.

Like an unfinished screenplay. An incomplete degree. A rough draft.

We tend to protect the work that we’ve already done, and we hide from the judgement that will come following completion.

But we can’t stay in that unfinished state. Not if we’re serious. Not if we’re professional. Those risky next steps... we’ve been building up to them all along.

We’ve just got to take them.