Lucas Brenner » Articles » Some Projects Have to Be Cancelled

Everyone has projects in his or her life that eat up too much energy, bring no joy, and only cause worry. Such projects are best cancelled or abandoned.

If you know of a project that fits this description, then in this article I will introduce you to what you should consider when cancelling a project prematurely.


First, you need to make the final decision that you want to cancel the project. If this is not possible, for example because the project is part of your job, you can try to minimize your participation.

If you decide to pull the plug, I recommend an “all or nothing” approach. Don't compromise, but stand by your decision and make sure you are at peace with yourself.


If other people are involved in the project, it's important that you inform them about your exit early on. It's best to do this in person, even if it's uncomfortable.

You can explain your reasons for leaving the project, but don't use bogus arguments. Be honest but firm and share your point of view. Most of the time, others will respond with compassion and understanding.

Communication with supervisors is also important, albeit more difficult. Here it is crucial to give good reasons why you want to leave the project and, at best, to make alternative suggestions. For example, you could propose another person who could take over the project.


After informing the people involved, you need to make sure you complete or delegate any unfinished tasks and document your work status to ensure an organized transition. You can't just leave chaos behind.

However, you shouldn't spend too much time cleaning up either. Don't get sucked back into the project. Remind yourself of the reasons you want to cancel the project.

You can still finish small tasks, but for all other activities you should only document the current state for your successor.


After you have left the project, you should reflect on why you left. Are there external or internal reasons? How can these difficulties be prevented in the future? How can you identify them earlier? Are there ways to take countermeasures to save a project in the future?

This step is important because you don't want to make any mistake twice. Prevent having to abandon other projects by fixing any problems you identified in earlier projects.

Every project should have a checklist and its own folder. Moreover, you should handle your projects like homework.

It is no shame to withdraw from a project. However, you should always communicate this well, ensure an organized transition, and reflect on what caused you to drop out. That way, you'll make sure your future projects are better and you won't have to abandon them.