Have you ever started something and had a half-hearted attempt at finishing? I mean your intentions at the start were “Hell yeah! I can do this!” and after a few weeks, maybe even a few months the momentum has petered out and you gave up?
Look it might be too early in the year to be asking this. Wait. No it isn’t. It’s the right time, never too early. May as well look at the truth right now and do something about it. Not wait until June when you might say – “Oh, I’ll start after Christmas”.
I’m not immune. I’ve completed some pretty amazing things in my life, but if I’m to be really honest (and why am I here if I’m not honest?) there are many things in the past I haven’t finished.
My earliest memory is when I was in primary school and I had an end of year project to do. Me and my best friend decided that for our science project we would make a working volcano. We would build a model of a volcano, and somehow (who knew how?) we would have smoke puffing and lava spilling out over the side. We got together and drew lots of pretty pictures. Then we went out into the garden to make mud pies to get an idea how big our paper mache volcano model would have to be. Then the mulberry tree attracted our attention, so we left our mud pies, climbed the tree, and ate mulberries until our bellies were aching. It was then time to go home, so we promised each other that we’d meet up on the weekend after netball and continue the project. Did we? No. What did we hand in? The pictures we drew.
Another major no go was my Accounting certificate. I’d left high school, had a fulltime job at the bank, and decided Accounting was what I wanted to do. I mean I’d always been good at maths at school and my teachers said I’d be good at it, so it was a given, wasn’t it? So two nights a week, after work, I went off to my local Technical College to study Accounting. It was a four-year course. I did three. Three!!! I was three quarters through my course, and I decided I didn’t want to do it anymore – I found something else to do!
These are just two of my many projects I have started and decided not to finish.
And I’m sure there are many of you out there reading this right now, nodding your head going “Yep I can relate”. (Coz I’m sure those of you that always finish would have gone by now – nope doesn’t resonate so I’m off, or – hang on, you always finish things so you’re here til the end just to see what I say J ).
But recently I’ve stopped beating myself up, and had a look at the magnificent things I HAVE completed.
I graduated University (as a Mature Age Student I might add) and have my Degree. I have written a book, albeit a short book, but I have written it. I’ve graduated from the Inspired Spirit Coaching Academy and am a certified Life Coach with world-wide accredited qualification, that is amazing. And on top of all that I’ve brought up two beautiful children into adulthood, and am still married to the man of my dreams (I suppose you could say I haven’t finished that – coz that won’t end til the day I die – but it is something to be so proud of).
So what changed? Why do I now finish what I start?
It all starts with mind shift.
I will not start anything, ANYTHING, that I have one iota of doubt in my mind that I will not finish. I MUST be passionate about it.
I look at the project at hand and ask do I really want to do this?
Answer: No – then give it to someone who does. Find someone who is willing to do it, even if you have to pay them -money, time, compliments. There is always someone for every job, you just have to look.
Answer: Yes – WHY? What is the outcome. And how good do you want to do it (I’m not saying how bad do you want to do it -no negatives here). What do you expect from doing this project? Recognition. Health. Money. Love. Self-Worth. How important is it to you?
You have to look at the WHY, and that’s what has changed. WHY am I doing this? The ‘why’ is what has become important to me. I truly look at things now, and stop and think “why do I want to do this?”
I have to be absolutely sure that I’m passionate about it, and I’m doing it for me – not because someone else says I should do it. (Hmmm, takes me back to the accounting). I mean I’ve started to learn the piano and gave up after 3 weeks– a total waste of time and effort I could have used elsewhere. I’ve bought countless Pilates video, Yoga videos, Aerobics videos – done them every second day for two weeks, then thought nope, let’ s find something else. I wasn’t really doing it because I wanted to, I just thought that the boyfriend at the time wanted me to look good.
The thing you’re about to start, do you think about doing it all the time -that’s a pretty good indicator you really want to do it.
Now I know you have to try before you buy, so if something interests you, try something small. Want to write a book, try writing some short stories first. Really want that Black Belt, don’t go and buy the uniform and sign up for a lifetime, try a few free lessons first. You’ll find most places will offer a free trial just to make sure you aren’t wasting your time as well as theirs.
Be aware of how much time and effort is required to complete what you want. That Black Belt you want in Karate? Know that if you attend two sessions per week you can expect to earn that belt in 5 years. Become even more dedicated and you could have it in two or three years. Does this sound appealing? If you’re going “Yeah, bring it on, I can do that” then go for it. If your reaction is WHAT?!?! Then perhaps it might be better to aim for that yellow belt first. So be aware of your time constraints and budget your time accordingly. Enthusiasm is often lost when you underestimate the amount of work needed to bring your goal to life. But don’t get stuck in the thinking phase – you have to be in the doing phase. Your goals won’t magically be completed. You need to take action.
STOP being a perfectionist. How many times have you not handed in the report, not sent in the manuscript, not auditioned for that part you want because it is just ‘not right’? Stop looking for perfection. No-one else is. Honestly. Yes, they want the report to be good. Yes, they want the book to be good. Yes, they want the audition to be good, but no-one (except you) expects perfection. (Okay there are some megalomaniac bosses, editors, directors out there, but the majority want GOOD not PERFECT). And besides who is to say what you think is perfect is what they think is perfect?
Look, finishing is hard for a lot of people, but honestly it is not a gift or a talent as some will tell you. Through conscious effort you can be a ‘finisher’. Kick the habit of never finishing what you start. Hang on, this is the only time I’ll tell you to start something new before finishing. Start a new habit of ‘FINISH everything I start’.
So to recap to make it a little easier to finish what you start:
Ask yourself WHY am I doing this?
Does it resonate with you? Is this for you or is it an outside source making you do it? Are you really interested?
Research (a little- not too much to keep you off track) and be aware of time and effort required? Do you have the stamina or dedication?
Stop being a perfectionist (just another word for procrastinator). Do it well of course, but stop looking for any little thing that’s not right.
Get into the doing phase – baby steps if you need to.
Start a new habit – the ‘I must finish everything’ habit.
Now on occasion there are times when you can’t finish, but I’ve gone over my self-imposed word limit, so that will be for another blog. So for now, get serious and finish what you start. You will love yourself for doing it!
Start Kicking Up Your Heels,