Being able to finish what you start marks the difference between a dreamer and a doer. If you’re a serial non-finisher, here’s how you can learn to turn that around.
If you’re the kind of person who has difficulty finishing things, you probably won’t read this article to the end. You’ll look at this first paragraph, scan through the rest and then your attention will move on to something else.
If you do that, I can’t help you. But if you’re willing to make the effort to read from start to finish, what you learn may change your life. I’ll make this a short, pithy article to help you.
Why people don’t finish things
Some people find it easy to start things but not finish them. Others find it easy to finish things but not start them. Both are forms of procrastination that need to be overcome in order to achieve anything in life.
If you often find it hard to finish things, here’s how to identify the cause and what to do about it. It generally comes down to one or more of these seven issues:
1. Fear of success
Many people don’t realize that fear of success can hold them back as much as fear of failure. If you succeed, you become more visible. People may have higher expectations of you than they did before. Success can also leave you wide open to judgement and criticism. Not finishing things is a way to keep yourself small, invisible and safe.
Antidote: Feel the fear and do it anyway. As Jack Canfield once said, ‘Everything you want is on the other side of fear.’
Perfectionism may seem to be an admirable quality to strive for. However, it can make you your own worst critic and hold you back from achieving anything at all.
Antidote: Remember that done is better than perfect because perfect never gets done.
3. Blank canvas syndrome
Some people delay finishing tasks because they know, consciously or unconsciously, that if they bring themselves up to date with everything they need to do, they will be left with themselves and a scary blank canvas of what to do next.
Antidote: Create an exciting new project you’re really looking forward to. Don’t allow yourself to start it until you’ve finished the ones you’re currently doing. Better still, learn to meditate so that you’ll feel perfectly comfortable just being with yourself and having nothing to do. You’ll even look forward to it.
Sometimes a task doesn’t get finished because your attention gets pulled elsewhere.
Antidote: Do one task at a time and keep going until it’s done. If it’s a large task, break it down into timeboxes and complete each timebox before moving on.
5. Yak shaving
Yak shaving is any series of unrelated tasks that have to be completed before you can do the job you first set out to do. You can find yourself doing things you never planned to do and never even getting to the task you originally intended.
Antidote: Learn to spot yak shaving whenever it raises its shaggy head. Try to find creative ways around it so that you can stay on track.
6. Taking too much on
If you are prone to taking on more than you can handle, take a good look at why you do this. Do you underestimate how long tasks will take? Do you agree to do things because you’re a people pleaser seeking approval? Do you need to learn how to prioritize?
Antidote: Learn to sometimes say no. Understand that whenever you say yes to something you are saying no to doing something else.
7. You can finish a task by dropping it
You don’t have to finish everything you start. Some things aren’t worth the time or effort it will take you.
Antidote: Many unimportant tasks can be crossed off your To Do list by realizing you do not need to do them.
Other reasons why people don’t finish things
Of course, there are two other possibilities why you don’t finish things. It may be that you’re just plain lazy or don’t give a darn. But no one is born lazy or not caring. It’s a learned behaviour that can be unlearned. And in any case, if you’ve bothered to read this far, it’s a pretty sure bet these are not the main reasons why you don’t finish things.
Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd, 2021
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