9 Essential Tips To Help You Finish What You Started
Do you have a habit of starting things and never finishing them? If so, you’re not alone. Many people have this problem and it’s because finishing things takes effort, especially when things are not going well, on days when “you don’t feel like it” or when we feel overwhelmed.
Things get particularly hard if you’re trying to do something on your own, such as running your own business or starting a side hustle, which is why I came up with a 9 steps method to help you finish anything you start.
1. Be selective of what you say yes to
Often we get excited about the prospect of a new project and agree to take it on immediately, without thinking of the road ahead and whether it’s the right time, what the implications are, how it fits in with the rest of your commitments etc.
You want to make sure that whatever you choose to start has an intrinsic motivation and that you’ll be happy to work on it even when you don’t “feel like it”. If you feel like your commitment is only 50% there, maybe try to postpone it or find a solution, such as partnering up with someone.
2. Estimate the resources needed
And I’m talking about all resources here - time, energy, money, focus etc. Committing to something that takes 2 hours per month and where you’re using your core skills is very different from a project that will require a steep learning curve and spending 2+ hours weekly and possibly drain your energy.
Make your “yes” decisions slowly & commit to something that either feels 100% up your alley or a project that you’re willing to dedicate a lot of resources to, being conscious of the effort it will take. Intentionality is KEY at this step.
3. Make a plan and have a timeline
Now that you know this project is right for you and what kind of resources will be needed, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty. If the goal seems unachievable and overwhelming, break it down in small steps and put them in your calendar or on a project management app such as Asana/Trello/Monday.
This way, you only have to keep yourself accountable for each of the steps rather than always staring at a huge end goal which seems far away. Once you invest in your systems and learn to focus on the next step only, the end goal will take care of itself.
4. Know your patterns & build a toolkit
I’ll take a stab in the dark and say this is probably not the first time that you find yourself getting stuck or giving up and not finishing something.
Take some time to reflect on past experiences. What has previously made you give up? Or even better, what has helped you stay on track? To give you an example, I have a client who knows that when he’s struggling with a project, he needs to take his dog for a walk without his phone and allow his brain to reset.
Another example is another one of my clients who knows that she doesn’t work well creatively in the afternoon so she’ll always wake up an hour early on the days where she has creative project work to do and get it done first thing in the morning.
Taking the time to understand your own hang-ups will be a lifesaver down the line and help you create your own set of tools to help you manage your time and energy most effectively.
5. Choose progress over perfection
Seeking perfection might mean you give up on things when they get hard. Allow yourself to have a first crappy draft of whatever it is that you’re working on. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck hoping something will become perfect. The only way to improve something is to work on it, get it out, get feedback, iterate.
Think - what could you achieve if you were to allow yourself to get something out there before it's perfect?
6. Show your commitment
If you had the option to go out for lunch with ex-colleagues today or finish that piece that you promised yourself that you would, what would you choose? This is where true commitment shows. Remember, you can do anything, but not everything at the same time.
By prioritizing the things that you said yes to, you will start building belief in your own ability to finish things, which in turn will make your actions reflect that.
7. Connect with your end vision
While earlier I asked you to focus purely on the next step ahead of you, remember to stay connected to your why. Maybe your goal is to launch a new digital product to help thousands of people.
It’s hard to remember that when you’re deep into an annoying or admin heavy task, but find your own way to stay connected to it. Whether it’s a sticker on your laptop, affirmations or journaling, make sure you keep your end goal at the forefront of your mind to keep you motivated throughout the not so easy times.
8. Be flexible
Just because you have a specific list of steps or schedule, doesn’t mean that you need to stick to that order or timeline religiously. If you woke up this morning feeling really inspired to tackle a different area of the project, take advantage of that.
Or if something outside your control has delayed things, don’t feel defeated and give up because it’s not perfect, simply adjust it and move on to the next step. Life is not perfect and the important thing here is to adjust quickly and not allow yourself to overthink the changes.
9. Track your progress & celebrate
It’s easy to feel like you’re not moving forward at all, especially in a long term commitment that feels never-ending, which is why it’s important to track your steps. Whether it’s something as simple as a progress bar on a post-it note or striking through your to-do list at the end fo the day. Again, create your own toolkit based on what works for you.
By acknowledging your progress and celebrating, you will build up your motivation to keep going and also change your mindset into one where you are someone who always finishes what they start. Even if it’s as simple as a celebratory 30-sec dance or giving yourself a 20 min break when you’ve finished another task, make sure you do take the time to celebrate and recharge for what’s next.
I hope these tips were helpful and I’d love to hear what other methods you use to help yourself finish everything you start.
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