10 most effective ways to finish what you start.
By : Swati Chauhan
I have been the champion of the fizzing out game. My father would joke that I would start anything new with enormous enthusiasm and fervour 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 instils 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 lose 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?
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.”
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.
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 lose 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!
Much Love, Swati Chauhan
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