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I love starting side projects, but I almost never finish them.

I have always been this way. I come up with an idea, convince myself that it’s a good idea, then do a deep dive into the nitty-gritty details of the concept, to determine if it could “be a thing.”

I’ve always felt guilty when I look back on the graveyard of half-built ideas that never saw the light of day. Thinking thoughts like “If I would’ve just done X, the project would’ve worked out.”.

But recently I’ve discovered a new perspective.

It’s not a graveyard of half-built ideas; it’s a bookshelf full of stories and hands-on, hard-earned experience. At any point in my future, I can pull an idea off the bookshelf, relive the experience (reload into my brain RAM), and use that experience to my advantage. (Like a Zettelkasten!)

I’m not making side projects, I’m just taking on side quests!

My day-to-day life is my main quest, but when I’m feeling bogged down and tired of the grind, I pick up a side quest to switch things up a little. I try only to take on side quests where I’ll learn a new skill, gain some unique insight, or to explore something I’m entirely unfamiliar with. That doesn’t always work out, sometimes I take a 20-minute Factorio side quest, and 12 hours later, I emerge with nothing gained.

When you think of it this way, the guilt melts away. I’m proud of my side quests, even if they never see the light of day.