How to Finish What You Start


Randy Cox

Would you get more done if you knew how to finish what you start.  You wouldn’t want to fly with a pilot who didn’t have a formal flight plan.  He might not finish the trip you started.  He might finish it, but in a totally different location than the one you wanted.

So the first thing to help you finish what you start is to fix it formally as a goal.  You should have written long term, short term and intermediate goals written somewhere and review them often.  Change them as they become obsolete or better as you achieve them.  Finish what you start!

You want to be successful!  The only way to do that is to have a goal with a plan to achieve that goal.  Next take action!   As your action produces results, pay attention.  If the results are not exactly what you want, change your plan and adjust your action till you get the results you need to finish what you started.

Napoleon Hill talks about the importance of “burning desire!”   A burning desire for the end result drives action, but if the  passion for that end moment causes frustration if it doesn’t come quickly, you can burn out before you get there.

The real beauty and joy in achievement comes from the process rather than the end result.  Consider a gourmet meal.    You wouldn’t want to just set the meal as a goal and then have the whole thing just instantly appear in your stomach.  The joy is in the eating.

Remember this as you work your plan to achieve whatever goals you have set.  Build your  “burning desire” for the process rather than putting all your passion on the end point.  You don’t want the process to become so exclusively important that you never get to the end.  Remember the gourmet meal again.  You want to experience the joy of eating, but you don’t want to eat forever.  Moderation is in order.  Balance your burning desire for the process and the end result in proper time.

You can’t do everything you want to do all at the same time.  You also can’t focus on just one thing until it is finished.  Life requires a variety of maintenance actions, but you can minimize those actions and reduce the numbers of primary goals to a workable number.  One small step after another is how you habitually finish what you start.

You do this the same way to adjust your individual actions.  That’s why keeping a written set of goals is so important.  If you keep them on paper and review them daily, you will know if you are working too many plans to finish them in good time.  Pay attention to the results you are getting and reduce the number of primary goals.  Pull out the most important ones and work them.  Leave the rest of your less important goals for later.  Adjust these to get better results always.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion.  The same is true of actions.  Once you’ve started something, keep it moving.  Create momentum.

Do something everyday.  You should have a list of items or steps that need to be taken to achieve your goal.  Check them off as you go.  The check off process is great for motivation and it is part of the joy of the process.  Develop a  burning desire to complete the steps and check them off.

It helps to visualize your completed goal.  If you are really serious about learning to finish what you start, make a notebook of your written goals.  Fill it with motivational photos.  I wanted a washboard stomach.  I cut out a picture of a young man with great abs.  I used that to motivate me to go to the gym.  Later I found a photo of an older man with the kind of body that I’m working towards.  His picture better suited my reality so I replaced the young guy with the old guy.  That is my future body.

Collect pictures of your dreams and look at them often.  Carry the vision with you and use it to finish what you started.

A decade ago I was deeply in debt.  I got in debt by spending more than I was making.  I figured out a plan to pay off all my debts, worked my plan until I was actually making more than I was spending.  Then I calculated how long it would take in weeks to pay off all my debt.  I put the number on a sticker and pasted it on the underside of the visor of my hardhat.  I was working as an electrician at the time.

I worked every hour of overtime offered.  It was hard and long hours, but while others went home after eight hours, I’d look the number on my hard hat and find the drive to stay another hour.  Week by week those numbers grew smaller.  Some weeks things happened that caused me to add a few weeks.  Other times, I could take extra weeks off the list.

I paid off all my debts in less than two years.  I owe no man!  Everything I own is paid for.  I had a burning desire.  I had a plan.  I implemented the plan, and I adjusted it I went along.  I started my plan and I finished it.  This is how you finish what you start.

Avoid procrastination at all costs.  If you feel yourself putting off what you should be doing, just start doing it.  Even if you don’t feel like it.  Plug away at it.  Once you get started, you’ll find your rhythm. You will forget that you’d rather be doing something else.

Learn to get started, not on a new project but on the old one.  You can not finish what you start if you never get started.

Procrastination is a habit.  If you interrupt your procrastination habit 21 times you’ll have a new habit of not procrastinating.  Put the number 21 on a sticker on your baseball cap and just get started on something you’ve been putting off.  Take the 21 sticker off and replace it with the number 20.

Do this again on the next project that you feel like putting off.  Just do it and change the sticker on your hat.  If you can avoid procrastination 21 times, you’ll have a new habit.  I promise  you’ll like the new habit a lot better than the old.  Procrastination never feels good.

Okay, so you are a busy beaver.  You’ve got yourself organized with goals, you are a self-starter and you finish what you start.  You’ve interrupted the pattern of procrastination enough times now that you have a new habit of getting things done.

Something always comes along that you can not avoid.  Something will stop you!  That is life.  You need to deal with the problem without letting it destroy you.  Just take whatever time is necessary to get the problem behind you, then immediately get back to your original goals.

You must develop a strong ability to divert your present actions to deal with those life emergencies, and then get back to the old action without delay.  This is a habit you can develop the same way you cracked the procrastination habit.  Number them and make note in your notebook.  When you have done this successfully 21 times, you have added depth to your character.  Celebrate it and protect it by not letting temporary diversions become permanent.

The third habit you need to establish is the habit of review.  You have to pay attention to the results you are getting and constantly tweak your actions to get better results.  You have to review your goals every evening before bed or first thing in the morning.  Here you note your progress.

  1. Budget your time so that all the little everyday chores get done, leaving you with some time for the long term goals and major projects.  Do not panic.  Work on this plan a little each day.  If spend just a few moments each day prioritizing and budgeting time between the little things and the big things, it will work out.
  2. Write down the major obstacles that are slowing you down.  Maybe you can eliminate or minimize recurring obstacles.  First you have to define them.  Solutions will come.
  3. Analyze everything, but do give in to  Analysis Paralysis.  Give it some quick thought, then move on.
  4. Keep your written goals updated.  Adjust. Adjust Adjust!
  5. Attend to your physical and spiritual health!  A good craftsman takes care of his tools.  Your body and spirit are the tools of the work of life.  Keep them in shape.

Finish what you start!