How to Finish What You Start, Every Single Time
Do you let the overwhelming stress of big projects keep you from finishing what you start? Is not finishing holding you back from success? The truth is finishing is the most important and difficult part of any project.
"There are better starters than me but I'm a strong finisher." - Usain Bolt
What do you get out of all of the projects that you never finish? Nothing. You can't succeed at something if you don't finish it. It's often thought that some people are finishers and some just aren't, but the reality is you can learn how to finish projects.
Read on for the big reasons why projects don't get done, and how to work around them, so you can finish everything you start.
Why is Finishing so Difficult?
Starting a project is easy, we're full of new ideas and sometimes our excitement blinds us and we forget to consider all the obstacles and hurdles we will have to face. We're eager to start but as we get to work and begin facing difficulties we can lose motivation. Are you catching yourself thinking about the last project (or maybe projects) you started and haven't finished yet?
Chances are, everyone has one project that they've started and left unfinished, and if we're being real - there's probably more than just one. So don't worry, you're not alone and the big reasons that most projects don't get finished are 100% avoidable.
Ready to find out what those reasons are? And how to get past them and start using your brain the way it was made to be used, to finish what you start, every single time?
The 3 Things Keeping You From Project Completion and How to Get Past Them
1.) Not Breaking Things Down
Trying to face a huge project head on or focusing on too many tasks at once can get overwhelming and cause you to lose motivation. But when you break your project down into smaller tasks, every time you finish one, you feel success and it feels good! This causes a release of dopamine, which initiates a dopamine feedback loop, making you want to repeat the original action. By simply just finishing a task, you get your brain wanting to finish more tasks.
When you take entire projects head on, you don't get that feeling of accomplishment and success as quickly, so without breaking it down, a huge component of mental and physiological motivation gets left behind.
"If I have 10 important things to do in a day, it's 100% certain nothing important will get done that day". - Tim Ferriss
Not breaking projects down plays such a huge role in finishing what you start that Tim Ferriss, New York Times bestselling author and entrepreneur, who currently has a net worth of 100 million dollars, attributes getting anything done to breaking it down. Ferriss firmly believes that everything you have to do should be broken down (and written down) into 3-5 tasks or steps and focused on one at a time. This is Ferriss's secret to getting things done despite his self proclaimed procrastinator personality.
How to Break it Down
Pull back the lens and look at the big picture. Make sure you understand what the desired outcome of your project is.
Once you've got the big picture - break it down into 3 smaller, more manageable tasks.
Don't just break it down in your head. Write down the first 3 steps you need to take. Check out Best Self's Project Action Pad for a great place to write down your tasks and keep track of them.
Physically writing tasks down is an important component of project completion. Check out this study on how writing things down is better for conceptual understanding and memory than typing.
2.) Not Tracking Progress
To try and understand the importance of progress tracking, Harvard researchers studied and monitored the emotions, motivations, and perceptions of 238 workers over a period of 4 months. They read about 12,000 diary entries. Their research found that of all the things that can boost emotions and motivation, "the single most important is making progress on meaningful work" and that "most of us make advances small and large every single day, but we fail to notice them because we lack a method for acknowledging our progress. This is a huge loss".
Whether your project is going to take days, weeks, or months to finish, how much progress you've already made can be a huge motivator to keep you going strong and you just can't know how much progress you've made if you don't track it. It's clear that monitoring progress is a critical link between setting a goal and attaining that goal, so let's go over some effective progress tracking methods:
Track Your Progress and Share it
Research not only shows that tracking progress helps ensure goal attainment, but that project completion is more successful when progress outcomes are made public or physically reported.
Here are effective ways to track your progress:
Set milestones. Successful milestones are specific, attainable, significant and move you towards project completion.
Use Best Self's Project Action Pad to keep track of progress. Having all the broken down steps to finishing what you start written down in one well organized place will give you a simple way to track how much you've accomplished and how well you are on your way to project completion.
Share your progress to create accountability.
Keep your physical progress in a place where it can be seen often.
Share your progress with your partner or friends.
If others are a part of the project, make everyone's progress available to all members of the project team.
3.) Not Setting Deadlines
Deadlines can be tricky. Without them it's easy to procrastinate and difficult to prioritize. But set your deadlines too tightly, and you set yourself up for disappointment.
Set Deadlines You Can Crush
Be realistic ...........