When Is It Okay To Quit: What I learned from writing, filming, and editing, my first short length film
“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” — George S. Patton
Let’s talk about quitting — When is it okay for you to stop working on a project that you have been working on? Think about a time when you started working on a new project and then some unforeseen obstacle got in your way. For myself, I was faced with such a challenge when I was working through the process of writing, filming, and editing my first film. The first major challenge came when my MacBook Air’s 4GBs of RAM were not enough to easily handle the computational heavy lifting of film editing and special effects. Another challenge occurred when I discovered that none of the conference rooms in my office had adequate light for filming. And the list of roadblocks goes on and on from there. Unexpected challenges should be expected whenever you are engaging in one of life’s most difficult tasks — creating something from nothing.
The question then becomes, how do you plan for and overcome these challenges when you cannot even predict what they might look like? The creation of anything that is originally new in this world involves addressing the friction that exists between two opposing wills: your own will to bring this new idea into the world and the millions of other wills in this closed system we call a universe that bounce up against the trajectory of your new idea.
You can think of this process as playing a game of chess, wherein these two opposing wills are symbolized as players competing with each other. You can make predictions about the next move, or moves, your opponent might make in the game, but you can never know with complete certainty what move will be next. Yet, when your opponent does make their next move and when the unforeseen challenge becomes painfully clear to you and stares you in the face, you possess the skills necessary to address the problem.
By then, you are able to assess the current state of things, collect all of the information that is available to you, and make the best move. But, what if the best move you have available to you is not the perfect move?
The net gain of a good move versus the net gain of the perfect move is an important distinction to make. It is always better to act now with your best available course of action, than it is to delay any action while you craft or attempt to assemble the perfect action. When you act now with a potentially good option, you will gain valuable feedback that represents the current state of the market. Then you can integrate this feedback into your next iteration — the next move you make. The result is a feedback loop that moves quickly and becomes self-improving with each future iteration.
The lesson to be learned here is that it is never okay to quit, because the act of bringing a new idea across the finish line — even if its final state is short of, or different from, the original expectations — provides a wealth of information that will make your next attempt, your next move, or your next project, so much better. The marginal gain from 70% perfect to 90% perfect cannot offset the 0% of feedback gained when your project never sees the light of day.
If you would like to see the film I created that is referenced in this article, it is available here: The Death of Democracy — “Breaking the Filter Bubble IRL” (2017) https://youtu.be/8QMk2jS2pcc
And please sign the petition and tell a friend here: https://www.change.org/p/adam-mosseri-build-a-code-of-ethics-for-the-facebook-newsfeed-that-emphasizes-fair-balanced-reporting