You Should Half Ass Things Sometimes


Ron Swanson once said “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” This is excellent advice if, unlike me, you have the ability to focus on only one thing without side-eyeing the eight other projects you have waiting in the wings, demanding your attention. So here is a caveat for my fellow easily-bored-workaholics: sometimes you should half ass projects for their own good. Here is an example: I have been working on writing a play for the last couple of years with the hope that I would fully produce it at some point. Except that’s a big project! I’ve got a busy life and the idea of committing myself to fully producing a play is overwhelming, so it’s just gone on the backburner for a long time. I haven’t even finished writing it because the idea of finding time to produce it was giving me so much anxiety. And it was only last night that it occurred to me: you can do small versions of projects. Did you know that you can do just a reading of a play and not perform it as a fully produced thing right out of the gate and that’s fine? Because then at least it exists in the world in some form. You can hang onto the prospect of one day completing your project only in its most ideal and perfect form, OR you can decide that an imperfect piece of art that gets shown to the world is better than an idea about a piece of art that sits in limbo until the perfect time comes. Because the perfect time just isn’t going to come. There has never been a single time in my whole life when I had only one thing going on, or when I’ve had the ability or inclination to work on one project exclusively. There are day jobs and side hustles and other projects I also want to work on! And while my pride tells me I should be able to realize all my projects in their most ideal and unblemished form, I would rather get the projects finished imperfectly. I’d rather they get completed and put out there. Because then at least they exist in reality, and not just as hypotheticals known only to me.

I think Ron is speaking to Leslie’s pride, her insistence that she can be perfect, she can do everything. And she can’t! You can’t. You cannot do everything completely perfectly. But I don’t think you really need to do a perfect job at something to make the effort worthwhile. What Ron and I are both saying is: respect your limits and your priorities, and do the things you actually want to do, not the things you feel you need to do to preserve your pride. Real is better than perfect.

Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash