Inspiration is everywhere.
Go to an art exhibit, see a show, or read a new book. Suddenly, I’m inspired.
“I’m going to learn a new language!”
“I’m going to write a book!”
“I’m going to start my own business!”
And maybe I do start. I buy a notebook dedicated to my new project. I read articles and blogs on the topic, and spend hours searching the web to help me get started.
Days, weeks go by. Most of the time, this once-exciting idea becomes a distant memory.
What happened? I was so motivated, so sure that it was going to be a great success.
Maybe you’re like me and follow a similar pattern. I discussed with my colleagues, and found there were many similarities between the projects we never finished.
3 Reasons why it is hard to finish what you started:
1.You prioritize other things
How many rags-to-riches success stories about entrepreneurs have you heard? The process is similar. A broke, basically jobless young-something starts a business. After a few years (or even months) of grinding and hard work, they’re multi-millionaires on the cover of Forbes Magazine.
If they can do it, why can’t you?
Well, you can. But here is the deal: it’s probably not essential to your survival. Take myself for example. I’m not broke. I have a great job and supportive friends and family. I can eat and do basically whatever I want. So any business or project I start will come second to the life I lead right now.
That means, if I ever come up short on time, energy, or motivation, I will direct my resources towards maintaining my current agreements and lifestyle. I will not jeopardize the success I have already achieved.
And that’s perfectly fine. But fine isn’t good enough for me.
Success values risk. Success needs change.
2.The perceived process keeps you from starting in the first place
So you have an idea. You begin thinking of what it’s going to take to achieve your goals…
You start thinking of the obstacles and issues that you will have to face along the way…
You realize how much effort it’s really going to take.
Well, to be specific, you imagine hard it MIGHT be.
Unless it’s something we’re really passionate about, most people give up before they start.
Whatever the reason may be; fear, commitment issues, laziness, which brings us to the next point:
I’m lazy. You’re lazy. It is very easy to spend your time mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, watching funny videos on Youtube, or checking the Instagram feed of people whose lives you wish you had.
Doing this is easy. The proof it is easy: everyone does it.
How many times have you sat down, and the next time you raised your head, an hour had gone by already?
The people who succeed with their projects, reach their goals, and complete their work are lazy too.
But they have the drive to get things done.
3 Steps to finish what you started:
Or get you a bit closer to completion
1.Realize that Progress, no matter how small, is getting you closer to your goal
Break down large tasks into more-actionable, smaller tasks. Then break those down further. We all know the feeling of accomplishment when you check a bunch of, “to-do’s,” off of a list.
Complete one task, and then another.
The more you practice actually finishing something, the easier it becomes. Large projects get worked on piece by piece.
Eventually, you’ve already done so much that you may feel obligated to finish the thing.
2.Set a deadline
In school we have deadlines. At work we have deadlines. When we have deadlines, and subsequently repercussions if we don’t make the deadline, we complete our tasks.
Self-set deadlines require personal discipline. But it helps to maintain consistent progress, and create quantifiable landmarks for each step along the way.
Set deadlines for each small task. Have a larger deadline for the large project. If you don’t make these deadlines, it’s not the end of the world. But the stricter you are to these deadlines, the more productive you’ll find yourself to be.
Whether it be a person, organization, or prior investment (time, money), accountability will hold you emotionally, and sometimes physically, to finishing a project.
I find that money is the strongest motivation for keeping people accountable.
I was taking a personal training course online. The first few weeks of the course, I busted through the information, crushing the textbook and taking notes like a mad-woman. Then a few weeks went by and I completely forgot about the course. It was only until I signed in online, that I realized that my 6-month deadline was almost up. If I didn’t finish the course and pass the test by the deadline, I wouldn’t get my money back. That was enough motivation for me.
Two weeks later I was a certified personal trainer, received my full reimbursement, and felt a great sense of accomplishment.
There are a few interesting programs popping up to facilitate this kind of accountability.
One is stickK.com.
You set a goal. You set the states – pledge a certain amount of money. You choose somebody to keep you accountable. If you complete your goal by the deadline, you keep your money. Otherwise, the money will be given to the anti-charity of your choice.
You can do this more locally just by asking a friend to hold on to your 20 dollars unless you finish the job, etc.
If you want an accountability buddy, feel free to send me your money. I’ll gladly keep it if you don’t finish what you started.
New ideas, new projects, new hobbies… the list of things I want to do is endless, and I add new ones to it every day.
I see all of my projects as strings. They are tied together in a knot at the top, but at the bottom, they’re swinging freely, a collection of loose ends looking to be secured somewhere. I want as few loose ends as possible. So every day, I work on finding which string to tie down next. Where I can tie it, where it will be the most secure. One by one I declutter and complete my projects. Adding new knots to the web of my life.
And of course new loose strings get added every day.
That’s just life.