Finishing What You Start

I have read many books on self-motivation in my life. Some of which I have found more helpful than others, but eventually I reached the point where taking action when I wanted to do something became second nature. However, it was not until I learned how to be a finisher that I started to see real success in my endeavours.

I think the art of seeing things through is something that often gets left out of self-help guides. For me being a self-starter initially led to me having a million projects on the go and not enough energy/time to make any real progress with them. It felt like I was failing at everything. This could have a highly negative effect on a person’s self esteem if they were not mindful of it.

It was the night before my 30th birthday when my wife changed my life. She knew I was feeling low about how I had not really achieved the kinds of things I wanted to. So she said ‘It’s not too late to achieve something tonight’ She taught me how to fold an origami crane. It was such a simple thing, and I did a very poor job of it, but later on I took on a project to make a thousand paper cranes, which I eventually succeeded at. Now I enjoy some manner of success in pretty much anything I turn my hand to.

What I needed was a change of mindset; making one thousand paper crane is one way to change that mindset, but I think there are some other tips that could help you on the way to becoming a finisher:

Take on Fewer Projects

I cannot stress this enough. If you have too many balls in the air at once you will soon end up dropping one. Prioritise which projects are most important to you right now. Write down the rest in a notebook, so you can come back to them later.

Carve Out Some Time for Your Project

This is actually easier if you have less projects competing for your time.  Even if it is just a couple of hours in the evening when everyone else is asleep. You will find that if it is regular focussed time, stuff just gets done.

Keep Your Projects Short in Duration

Short projects are easier to complete. Longer projects can be broken down into mini projects of ten to twelve week periods. If there is an end in sight, your motivation to reach it will be higher.

Make your targets more open-ended 

This flies in the face of traditional specific achievable goals, specific achievable goals are a useful tool in their place but are not completely helpful. What I am suggesting is widening the goalposts. For example say you decide to lose weight. You have a target weight of losing two stones in twelve weeks. Perhaps you only manage to lose one stone and five pounds. To me I would consider that a success at losing weight. Not a failure to lose two stone. So try to see even a small amount of success as a win and do not worry too much about your specific targets.

Finish Off a 12-week Project With a High

Personally, I like to have a damn good party when I get to the end of a mini project. A good social gathering is a good place to talk about the things you have done. Discuss lightly future projects with friends. It gives you a sense of achievement and perspective, plus it is good fun. Celebrating your achievements is a good way to boost self-esteem.

Plans Within Plans

Mini projects can build upon one another. little successes followed by little successes lead to bigger successes.  Having a loose long-term plan will eventually become essential to guide your mini projects, but is not necessarily important from the start. You might not know what you ultimately want to do, until you discover some aptitude from your mini successes. So keep it loose and flexible at first. Just make sure everything you do leads you a little closer to completion.

Do the Best You Can Do

Doing excellent quality work can give you a real boost to get the job finished. I personally hate absolute deadlines. I think it creates poor quality rushed work, but I do find a loose deadline can lead to a banishment of procrastination. Take it slowly, and make sure you have plenty of time to complete the work and put in a little bit of effort just polishing it up.

Get Support

Completing projects is so much easier with the right support. If you cannot do something outsource the bits that do not require your direct action.

Breaking Off a Project and Coming Back to It Later

There might be something you want to achieve but certain immovable obstacles in your life mean that you are wasting your energies. Sometimes breaking off a long-term plan while you work on the underlying cause of your difficulties can be a faster way to achieve results than swimming against the current. If you do have to break off a project write it down and remember it and come back to it later when you are in a better position. Do not use this as an excuse not to do it.  You should make sure to come back to it when you are able to put in the time and effort to see it through. Not everything has to be done immediately. I see this as ‘saving the game’.

Becoming a finisher is easier than you think; it is something that will happen naturally if you give yourself the breathing space to actually do it.  When you have a few successes under your belt, you will begin to feel your outlook change dramatically. I hope this article helps you to finalise the projects that are important to you.