Do you finish everything you set out to accomplish? Or do you jump from project to project, never actually finishing anything?
I usually fall into the second group, so I’m writing this post for all of us who have a tough time FINISHING things!
We’ve talked about prioritizing and planning — giving yourself time to work on a project. Now let’s dig into that magic last step to REAL productivity — FINISHING. If you’re overwhelmed with too many projects or too many vague steps, it’s all too easy to just run in circles and never finish anything.
Not long ago, I was looking at a productivity infographic that said you should “develop your finishing instinct.” I was fascinated by that suggestion, since I had never heard the term or thought of the ability to get things DONE as an “instinct.” I realized immediately that it’s the PERFECT term to describe what it takes to become productive on a regular basis.
Let’s discuss what it is and how you can develop it.
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What is a Finishing Instinct and Why Do You Need It?
When I googled “finishing instinct,” what I found was articles about how to “finish” your opponents in business or sports. That’s not exactly what we’re talking about here — unless you want to look at your project/goal as your opponent that needs to be conquered. 😉 You can certainly do that if it helps you get fired up. Whatever it takes, right?
However, when it comes to productivity, finishing instinct is the drive and dedication to finish one task after another until a project is complete. It’s hard. But you know that already, or you wouldn’t be reading this article.
Let’s lay this out for real life: How many unfinished projects do you have on your list right now? You have great intentions, but somehow things just never get finished.
I know how it goes. Life happens. The kids get sick. We get sick. The money runs low. Our spouse’s job shift changes, or our job changes. We lose that small window of time we used to have for working on our project. So we do less and less, finally just setting aside our project with a half-hearted “I’ll get to that later.”
And we never get back to it.
Or, we get to a step in the plan that is DIFFICULT. Getting past that point just plain HURTS because we have to work harder, think differently, put in more time, or learn a new skill. And, as humans, we do everything possible to avoid the pain of change and the possibility of failure.
So we quit.
But what if we could DEVELOP the finishing instinct that would drive us to get things done and REACH OUR GOALS?
I’m not saying you have to become someone who works relentlessly on projects, leaving your family and home life by the wayside in pursuit of your own goals. The thing is, developing your finishing instinct — whether it’s business-related or home-related — will help you gain the confidence to do better things in every area of your life.
David Allen TEDtalk — I’m not usually one to spend time watching or listening to TEDtalks (so many other things to do, right?), but this one was fascinating!
5 Steps to Develop Your Finishing Instinct
If you have a master list of projects or goals, get it out now. (Related post: Stop Thinking and Start Doing: A Goal Setting Starter Plan) You should choose your project from this list.
1. Get crystal clear on your goal
What do you really expect from yourself? If you make goals that you don’t ACTUALLY want to achieve, you’re training yourself to never finish. Your goal can be a stretch, but it has to be something you really want to do, or something that will make a huge positive change in your life. Like, maybe you don’t really WANT to take those last few college classes to complete your B.A., but they are exactly what you NEED to make a career change or get a nice raise.
2. Make a to-do list
Once you’ve decided on your goal, write down every single thing you need to do in order to make it happen. Review each item on your list and decide whether it’s truly necessary. If not, take it off the list!
For example, I have a goal this year to publish short fiction. My original to-do list included starting an author’s website and implementing a social media strategy. NOT necessary for a first release when it’s really my “practice” book. I needed to revise my list to strictly relate to writing and publishing.
As you make your list, be realistic about how long things will take — and then challenge yourself to get them done faster. 😉
3. Find an accountability partner
Make sure this is someone who a.) actually wants to see you succeed, and b.) will be tough on you if necessary — not mean or derogatory, but more like, “Come on, I KNOW you can do this! Text me as soon as you finish the next item on your list!” You may need this person to help you brainstorm solutions, so choose wisely.
There may be items on your list that need to be done, but do they need to be done BY YOU? I know it’s hard to “let go,” but getting help — whether free or paid — can make or break your chance of success. Truly productive people don’t do everything themselves.
5. Keep the vision
How will you feel when this project is complete? How will it look? What difference will it make in your life? You should have asked yourself these questions in Step 1, but it’s incredibly important to constantly remind yourself WHY you’re doing this with every task. Your vision needs to be so strong that it will keep you going through all of the hard parts!
Doing this again and again, finishing one project after another, will hone your finishing instinct and allow you to take on projects that are important to you because you KNOW you can FINISH them. And every time you do that, you will feel better about yourself as you work to Build Your Best Life.
To Get Things Done, Align Your Instincts With Your Goals And Intentions – advisors4advisors.com — Somewhat technical article, but the end brings up an interesting risk/reward method that is also highlighted in Joe Bunting’s post about how he challenged himself to finish a manuscript.
The “FINISH ONE PROJECT” Challenge
Are you motivated yet to develop your finishing instinct?
I figured if I struggle with this issue, there are probably a few of you out there who also need help. So I’m launching a free email challenge, which I will be doing right along with you!
This challenge will consist of a printable workbook and a series of emails spread out over 14 days. It’s designed to help you flex your finishing instinct muscles and actually get SOMETHING done! Wouldn’t that be an awesome feeling?!
The emails will provide more details, but the basic idea is that you will choose a project you really want to finish — the higher on your priority list, the better — and get it DONE! It could be finishing that knitting project you began last summer, decluttering or redecorating your bedroom, finishing the e-course or book you sort of left half-done, creating a “summer fun” bucket list, pressing the launch button on your blog, organizing all of your physical and digital photos… whatever you’re having a tough time actually finishing.
The Finish One Project Challenge begins May 5. I will send out the workbook a few days early. Be sure to sign up now so you don’t miss it!
Start thinking about it now: What project would YOU like to finish? Let me know in the comments below, or send me an email — firstname.lastname@example.org — I would love to cheer you on!
Let’s DO this!