Finishing what you start

The 10 Most Effective Ways to Finish What You Start

I have been the champion of the fizzing out game. My father would joke that I would start anything new with enormous enthusiasm and fervor but somewhere along the way, it would fizz out and I would leave it midway. This habit even got in the way of things I actually wanted to do since I started doubting myself for the genuineness of my effort and desire to perform.

We all experience this at some stage. We start off with a brilliant idea full of energy and enthusiasm but somewhere along the way, this energy fades away and we lose sight of the end goal.

It is this ability to follow through each project; task and goal at hand that differentiates an ordinary idea from a brilliant and successful one.

There are many benefits that explain the importance of seeing things till the end:

1. Making it a point to always finish your tasks speaks volumes of your attitude and defines your character.

2.  It is a lesson in self-awareness which introduces you to your own capabilities, forces you to confront your weaknesses and fears head on and makes you learn valuable lessons to grow better with each task.

3. It instills confidence in other people about your abilities and they see you as accountable, professional and responsible.

4. Completing your tasks and making sure you tie up all loose ends leaves you with true inner peace and adds purpose and meaning to your life.

5. Seeing something through to the end paves the way for your next job.

But that leaves us with the question that if finishing is so important, what are the reasons behind the ever increasing burn outs?

Main barriers/Factors:

1.    Wrong time allocations/ No time allocations.

Every project or any task has 4 main phases – Idea, planning, execution, Finish.

But an idea cannot be planned infinitely or executed forever….spending too much time in developing the idea or planning can lead to the idea (and the enthusiasm) dying out. So can a lengthy execution phase!

Solution: Allocate equal amount of time for each phases. Once the time is over, move on to the next and then the next. Maintaining a rhythm will keep the momentum going and ensure the idea not dying out at any one stage

 

2. The perfectionist block.

A lot of people give up things in the middle that they consider they cannot perform too well at. In such cases, finishing seems like submitting yourself to judgement and a potential situation in which you may be criticised, looked down upon or poorly judged by others.

Solution: You may finish a task still doubting your own performance but the important thing is that you finished and if you do realize you could have done better, then consider this as an opportunity to learn and receive valuable feedback which you can apply to your future performances.

 

3. Choosing the wrong starting points.

Sometimes people do not reach their finishing points because they choose the wrong starting ones. Many a times the major reason for giving up things sooner is not based on lack of focus, time or laziness but an offspring of undertaking the wrong projects.

Passion plays a very important role here because if you do not have a compelling reason to finish the task and aren’t driven to move towards the finishing line, you are more likely to fizzle out.

Solution: Before you take up a task or a project, ask yourself….” Why am I doing this?”…if the answer is based on some external factors that you don’t feel too strongly about and differ from your own purpose, chances are you won’t be able to carry it out

 

4. Fear of failure.

Stalling or putting things off to be done later can also be caused by lack of confidence in one’s own abilities and the consequent fear of failing if they were executed. I gave up my swimming classes midway not because I didn’t wanted to learn how to swim but I feared that the further I proceed in the course , the more I would lack behind compared to other students because mentally I just couldn’t imagine myself being able to swim.

Solution: When I confessed my fears and doubts about my imaginative incapability to swim with my father one evening, he simply shrugged and pretended as if this was the easiest problem in the world and said “so what, at the worst, your fears would come true and you would not learn how to swim even after the course ends….but then again it would still be a better experience than not having tried at all.” It is always a better option to finish things than to leave them midway for the sake of gaining experience if not results.

 

 5. Size does matters.

Sometimes the task at hand is so tedious and demanding that we shy away from them. It is almost the same procrastination that we practise before initiating a project. Does that mean we should not be taking up big projects or difficult goals?

Solution: The key to handling such big projects is to break them down into smaller, actionable and achievable tasks and activities and then allocating a definite time frame for completion to each of them. Dividing a big project into small categories and further sub categories makes you get a hold of things and the activity becomes less intimidating and more achievable.

 

6. Multi – directional goals.

It is the same as moving in all directions but getting nowhere. Taking up to many tasks or projects especially if they are unrelated can exhaust you physically and mentally. If you have more than you can chew, it is highly likely that you won’t see any of your projects to the finishing point.

Solution: Take up one project or activity at a time, focus 100% on it, turn down other tasks explaining your situation, move in one direction and totally commit to the one task you are engaged in. Finish the task at hand before taking up another.

 

7. Underestimating the length of the task.

Sometimes we take up long-term projects but lose interest midway because with time our interests, inspiration and goals get new meanings. “We get up one morning and suddenly find ourselves wondering “why we took up this project in the first place.”

Solution:

It’s absolutely normal to feel like giving up because you no longer feel driven to move ahead. It is thus very important to

1) Plan out the time schedule for project completion in advance so that you have your expectations right. Not a very thorough or accurate analysis but just a rough estimate to put things into perspective early on.

2) Keep end goal in mind always, remind yourself everyday what you set out to achieve.

3) Regularly track your progress, and to make sure you are in line with your schedules and deadlines you set out for yourself.

4) Celebrate every little success and achievement along the way to keep yourself motivated.

 

8. Shutting out the distractions/interruptions.

Finishing is all about maintaining focus. To ensure a focussed approach and to put on board your best performance, all distractions should be moved out of the way. The radio playing in the background can hamper your performance without you even realizing it.

Solution: When you sit down to finish a task, turn that radio/tv off, close all other windows on-screen except the one you are working on, logout of all your social media and chat accounts and for some time mentally close your to-do list in your head.

 

9. Flowing but not moving.

It is easy to be blown away trying to keep up with simple things like a job, house work and your daily routine. Your ever-growing To- do list ensures that you completely lose track of how life is moving and just keep switching from one task to another without realizing your actual goal.

Solution:

Take charge: First things first, don’t be over whelmed. If there is a lot to do, don’t keep it in your head, jot it down in your little notebook or feed it in your phone. Next assign a time for it to be done. Be a self-starter, design the first working hour of the day to set the right tone for the rest of the day by planning your day’s to-do. The best way is to start with what you left unfinished the day before. Finish each day and be done with it.

10. Nothing is trivial.

Sometimes we are so focussed on the end goals that the smaller tasks at hand that are required to be finished seem too trivial to be worked at. We keep ourselves busy tracking schedules, planning, attending meetings that the smaller tasks get ignored but in the end it is these little loose ends that crop up and stop us from finishing what we started.

Solution: Remember, it is the small steps that lead to the biggest destinations of our life. It is important to attach the same amount of importance with every task that you take up for it is these small steps and the little goals achieved on the way that pave the way for bigger achievements.

For e.g. If you cannot stick to the small goal of lowering your sugar intake every day, it would be impossible to achieve the higher goal of losing weight or shaping up in the long run.

When you connect back the dots keeping the end goal in mind, you would realize the importance of even the smallest jobs.

Apply these small tips to the new projects you take up in your life, and experience the joy of finishing!

Swati Chauhan is a corporate sales professional turned Freelance writer.  A computer engineer and a Management graduate by education, she is a writer by passion. She is the founder of The Eureka Life, a website where she writes articles and inspiring short stories about personal growth, self improvement, achieving goals and increasing the Happiness quotient of your life. For more information follow her on Google+ or connect with her through her Facebook page.

28 Responses to The 10 Most Effective Ways to Finish What You Start

  1. Lorna Kring says:

    These are great tips Swati, thank you. For the home based entrepreneur, I would add ensuring your environment is task specific. ie Don’t use your writing desk as your painting easel – you want to mentally associate the desk specifically to writing. This type of stimulus control helps to build strong, foundational habits that will move us towards our goal with less resistance.

  2. Lea says:

    I used to always make mistakes with my time, mostly underestimating. I would only give myself enough time for the task itself, not the preparation or anything that had to be done after. Time should also be set aside for that, it really completes the task.
    ~Lea

  3. Swati Chauhan says:

    Hi Lorna,
    I agree creating a work specific environment is a big stimulus. Thanks for the great tip.
    /Swati

  4. Swati Chauhan says:

    Hi Lea,
    Pre and post planning plays an important role for completion of the task.
    /Swati

  5. Para Friv says:

    information really is extremely interesting, I’m the lack of prejudice, I hate change and will quickly give back but I’m going to do when certain difficulties, the article gave me a new perspective , the new determination, really thank you.

  6. Swati Chauhan says:

    Hey Para,

    Glad you found the article useful…I hope you continue with your new determination :)
    Cheers,
    Swati

  7. I must agree with you. I have an office with a desktop which, when I use it, am quite efficient. Often though, I choose the laptop in the comfy living room with many distractions. While in my office I definitely put on the efficiency hat!

  8. Distractions….what a huge distraction…:) We must also be aware of behaviors we have that create avoidance issues. It used to be I would be right in the middle of some juicy stuff, on a role, then I was hungry…or needed to make a call. OR while I wanted to do something, before I began, would opt first to make the call thus limiting my time later to complete tasks….We definitely need to learn the importance of focus to eliminate distractions.

  9. Gahe says:

    I definitely bookmark this page and share it with your friends, hopefully will be useful to them.

  10. Mr M says:

    Sometimes it gets like having a habit of not finishing things, like I would wash most dishes & tell myself that I’ll be back to wash that last two cups after doing that other thing!!
    I’m determined to change that

  11. Chimdindu Eben Osuagwu says:

    A highly necessary article. At 63, I qualified as a ‘fizzler’ of about 10 years. Before 2000, until 50 years of age, I used to be a ‘finisher per excellence’ in most aspects of lives challenges. I loved challenges and was highly motivated by challenges. Suddenly, a convergence of hard-to-cope with life events, ‘switched on the lethargy gene’ in my genome. I have evaluated what factors, from my experience, contribute to ‘onset lethargy’, and I think an amalgam of ‘bio-spiritual depression’, central nervous system depression, and ‘poor cardiac output’ interact to transform ‘zestful finishers’ to ‘zestless fizzlers’. Right now, I hardly finish essays, because I am not able to sit or lie down to work in comfort because of untreated ‘coccydynia’ resulting from ‘pubendal nerve entrapment. There is a neurobiotaxic thesis that ‘a quantum of abilities evolves in areas of greater environmental stimulation’ and it applies: if one worked in a sufficiently stimulating environment, efficient finishing is likely, and the reverse is true. Bio-spiritual depression is caused by cummulation of disappointing returns on hardwork, integrity, and commitment, which, in turn, emasculates both ‘the will’ and ‘the want’ to carry on with perseverance, and even with loving and or living. So to say, there is a socio-biology to lethargy (‘fizzler mentality’), and who knows, discussing it might facilitate mitigation. Educate me more please at chimdindu@yahoo.com.
    Thanks for prompting this issue,, I need healing in this critical aspect.

  12. Lots of great advice. Thank you!

  13. amwebsolution says:

    I am very thankful to you for this. I was searching this for a long time. It is very helpful and interesting material for me.I appreciate you for the informative work.AM WebSolution!

  14. Socratez says:

    Nice article!
    Being a musician myself, I have a book written full of songs that I’ve never recorded. Since some time I’ve started catching up with my creativity by finishing things one by one. It feels great, because I’m gradually creating new space for new projects, but also the time I’ve invested didn’t go to waste by having a real product at the end of the day. Unfinished business is a much bigger drain on the subconscious than we’re actually aware of. And it totally changes how other people perceive you, not for the sake of ego, but for the sake of attracting others in your life who are also serious about living up to what they’ve set out to do.

  15. chloepink says:

    Thanks for the best advice ever on “sticktuitiveness” as my dad likes to call it!

  16. Thank you for your post, I really like your suggestive solutions and relate them in real experience of yours. Do Swati Chauhan also have published books?

  17. Bongi Mbuli says:

    Nice article I will surely put it to good use.

  18. Hi Socratez,

    It sure feels great to finish your pending tasks…no doubt about that. I wish you good luck for recording your songs in future.

    Cheers,
    Swati

  19. Dear Mr. M,

    I do that myself and the last two plates never get cleaned and eventually join new piles of uncleaned dishes:).

    Good Luck!
    Swati

  20. HI Bongi,

    I am happy you found it useful. Keep reading! / Swati

  21. Hi Del Mar,

    I am happy you found the suggestions in the post useful and could relate to them. A book…not yet but soon very soon! Watch out for it at http://www.theeurekalife.com.

    Cheers,
    Swati

  22. Hi Chloepink,

    That’s a very apt name given by your father:)

    Cheers,

    Swati

  23. Glad you found it useful! / Swati

  24. Hey Paul,

    You are most welcome!

    Cheers,
    Swati

  25. Hi Gahe,

    Thanks for liking and sharing!

    Best Swati

  26. Hey Suzanne,

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Good luck for distraction free work!

    Best,
    Swati

  27. Hari says:

    Very nice and useful article.

    I searched a lot and yours is the only article I found that addresses Multidirectional Goals and wrong starting points.

    I often stop midway on projects mainly because I pursue several projects at a time also I spend a lot of time selecting and planning for projects.

    Your post has helped me a lot.
    Thanks Swati

  28. MissHilary says:

    Very interesting

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