Starting something means you committed in some way. You gave a, “Yes,” and now you are in. Your new yes is one of the items that are in your life and now demands attention, whether small or large.
The temptation is always there to commit on the front end. A moment of inspiration, someone else’s request or a legitimate priority can solicit that easy response.
Starting a thing is highly asymmetrical compared to ending something. It’s easy to get into something and because of our desire to please others or our inability to decide on a good thing vs. a bad thing. We jump in too easily.
Our bias towards the status quo overwhelms our sense of a good thing vs. an irrelevant thing as well. A commitment may have made sense previously, but today’s priorities and reality have changed. However, we find ourselves with a sunk-cost bias still working on something that doesn’t make sense today compared to a week ago.
This is where having bookends can help, something that holds up and defines your boundaries. On one end, you want to let few, but great, things in. On the other end, you want to cross-off or get rid of commitments that simply don’t make sense.
Letting go is hard for many reasons, largely emotional. But burning out, living with a heavy burden of work or relationships, can be costly. How do you get to your goals if you are holding up many commitments by not having clear bookends? It’s not scalable. You’ll simply keep letting half-hearted things in and not letting go of the things you should.
Bookends work because they are clear and defined. You don’t hold onto some clothes you may wear. You get rid of them and get something you love. The same goes for projects, relationships, business ventures and all the pursuits you have built that are part of your life.
Allowing things to stick around because once upon a time you made a commitment is costly. The best things are subservient to the mediocre.
If you can be discriminate about what comes in and vigilant about getting rid of things that don’t matter, I have no doubt you will live a little lighter and a lot clearer.