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How to Finish What You Start

By: Brian Kim - May 21, 2009

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Theoretically speaking, if you were to finish every task you started, it’s a no brainer that you would get a ton of things done.

But in real life, that doesn’t happen for most people.

Constant interruptions, lack of self discipline, poor time management are just some of the factors as to why people can’t seem to finish what they start.

They haven’t cultivated the completion habit.

You can’t develop momentum, make progress, in essence, get your “plane” off the ground if you constantly leave your tasks unfinished.

If a plane constantly moved forward and stopped, moved forward and stopped, not only would it never get off the runway, it would run out of runway.

Then it would have to move through dirt, rock, and shrubs which makes it that much harder for it to develop the speed it needs to takeoff and pretty soon, it’ll be too late.

They’ll be trees or a cliff that will make it impossible for the plane to take off. It’s the story for most people when it comes to not finishing what they have started.

So how can you finish what you start?

Obviously the first thing to do would be to NOT select a task that you know you can’t finish in one sitting, in other words, a big one.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew when it comes to selecting to do one task at a time in one sitting.

That’s not to say you can’t do big tasks.

You just have to break it down so you know you can finish each task that you start within your own period of concentration time. Each one of us has our own period of concentration time.

For some, it’s 30 minutes, others 15 minutes, and for others 45 minutes.

It’s the time they can spend in one sitting in total concentration and focus. After that time period ends, it’s no use to keep on going. They need to take a break and get their minds on something else.

Break your tasks down so they fit into whatever your period of concentration time is.

Find out what yours is by experimenting. See when you start to get antsy and need to take a break.

Make it easy on yourself to finish what you start by taking that period of concentration time into account when breaking down your tasks to fit that amount of time.

Next, be CRYSTAL CLEAR as to EXACTLY what you have to do.

In other words, make sure it’s ACTIONABLE the second you read what you have to do

It makes it far easier to start rather than to spend time to sit down and figure out what to do because by the time you do figure out what you need to do and get on it, your period of concentration time will have already passed and you’ll find that you can’t finish that task you started.

That’s not to say you can go back and pick up where you left off, but if you do, you’re only going to reinforce the fact that you can’t complete.

Which path do you think will help you build the completion habit?

Breaking down one big task into 10 small tasks and FINISHING each of those 10 tasks that you started ON THE SPOT – so you have a “record” of 10-0, or the other path of only finishing 2 of those 10 tasks on the spot, with the rest, having to stop in the middle and coming back to pick it up?

10-0 is WAY better than 2-8. Yes, in both instances, the big task would’ve been completed, but the 10-0 way not only helps you finish the task quicker, it gives you a huge boost in solidifying the completion habit.

You were victorious 10 times in a row in finishing what you started in each of those 10 sittings.

That’s huge.

2-8 is a pretty bad record and doesn’t do much to solidify the completion habit.

In fact, it only reinforces that you can’t complete.

Plus, if you don’t complete the task you gave yourself for your period of concentration time in one sitting, you lose flow.

Flow of ideas, buildup of momentum, discipline, and confidence in yourself – you miss out on all that if you don’t complete ON THE SPOT.

You have to start from scratch if you quit in the middle of it.

Along with all this, it would be practical to have your own “fortress of solitude” where you know you’ll have no interruptions or temptations to kill time so you can finish each task you start.

Make it a habit to complete.

Give yourself those little victories so you come out with a no loss record.

Avoid the temptation to leave in the middle of your task.

When you start to finish ON THE SPOT, in one sitting, within the amount of your own period of concentration time, momentum starts to build on your behalf.

You work faster, get things done, results start to show, your confidence builds, you see yourself as a person of action, you start completing, and you see the rewards of it which just motivates you to keep it up and that cycle starts to solidify it, to the point where the completion habit becomes automatic.

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One Response to “How to Finish What You Start”

  1. Bryan Says:

    I think most people’s problem is finishing what they start. It’s fun and easy to start a new project or goal, but to go through each step to get there is a much different story.

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