"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao Tzu
In just 10 words, this ancient Chinese proverb communicates an important piece of wisdom - big dreams begin with simple actions.
I love this proverb. It’s one of my favorites but I must admit there’s something missing…
It says nothing about finishing what you start.
The truth is most of us are great starters. Some of us are masters at it.
How many times have you started something - an online course, training for a marathon, following a regular meditation practice - only to drop off around the halfway mark or even before then?
Starting is easy. Finishing is hard.
We get restless. We get bored. We get distracted.
And so, we stop. We quit.
Here’s the thing…
The books, the motivational videos, the programs and events, the blog posts about success, they tell you exactly why and how you should start something new or something big - but no one ever tells you how to finish.
It’s like we’ve collectively forgotten that finishing what you start is an extremely important success principle.
I’ve decided that this needs to end. Today.
Here are 4 proven methods you can use to finish your next project…
And every, single project after that.
Method 1: Get Up Close and Personal
There are intrinsic and extrinsic reasons to do anything and everything.
Let’s say you want to start a business.
If you’re doing it to serve clients and to fulfill your life purpose – that’s an intrinsic reason.
If you’re doing it to buy a bright, red Ferrari - that’s an extrinsic reason.
Nothing wrong with buying a bright, red Ferrari except that when things get tough – and they will – you’ll find yourself demotivated and ready to throw in the towel if your reasons are purely extrinsic.
This is a psychological fact about human nature.
On the flip side…
Intrinsic reasons that are personally meaningful to you, reasons that inspire passion and purpose within you, will keep you in the game even when you have massive challenges and obstacles to overcome.
So, if you want to finish what you start, the choice is obvious.
Pick intrinsic over extrinsic. Every time.
Method 2: Look for a Pattern
You operate based on certain patterns of behavior. We all do.
When we’re handling specific types of situations or decisions, we usually come back to the same or similar response.
So, if you never finish projects or complete plans, look for a behavior pattern. This is the thread that will help you make sense of why you drop out halfway.
Examine the past 4 to 5 projects that were left undone and then go through each one step by step. Ask yourself, what you were thinking and feeling when you stopped? What was happening in your life or work?
Your answers to these questions will give you a clear picture of your personal pattern of stopping. It will tell you why you don’t complete what you start.
Knowing “the why” will give you a great head start on “the how.”
This will allow you to build a game plan even before you start your next project…
A game plan that will have you crossing that finish line.
Method 3: Embrace Mistakes
If you can’t do it perfectly, don’t do it at all. Is this your current mantra? If you’re nodding yes, we’ve solved the riddle.
Perfectionism is the biggest reason why people don’t finish what they start.
It’s the reason why people who set a goal to workout regularly, get through 10 days in a row and then quit forever when they miss day 11.
The perfectionist in them says, “You’ve missed one day, might as well quit that goal.”
This is why finishers avoid perfectionism like it’s a contagious disease.
They know that forward is more important than flawless.
If you make mistakes or you miss a day – or three - learn from that experience and move on.
Done is better than perfect…
If you want to finish what you start, this needs to be your new mantra.
Method 4: “Goal” Small
Big goals are exciting. They’re ambitious and glamorous.
Big goals motivate us to do great things…
Until they don’t.
The problem with big goals? They’re intimidating. They are massive and they seem out of reach.
Even when you make progress, it feels like you’re getting nowhere.
Think about it…
If you set a goal to lose 50 pounds and you lose 2 pounds in a week, it feels insignificant.
But that doesn’t happen when you “goal small.”
When you set a goal to lose 5 pounds and then lose 2, it’s a massive achievement. It’s huge. It’s motivating.
The strange thing is that when you start moving forward with small goals, you’ll naturally feel brave enough to set bigger ones as you go.
Eventually, you’ll lose those 50 pounds and you’ll have a lot more fun along the way.
Finishing what you start…
This is a rare skill in this age of endless distraction and “shiny object syndrome.”
But when you choose the right goals and complete each one, it will give you the courage, the confidence, and the clarity to buck the trend of dropping out early.
You’ll cultivate a deep sense of self-trust. You’ll know, in your heart, that you’re the kind person who goes all the way.
This is what finishers do. It’s what winners do.
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