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5 Ways to Follow Through and Finish Something That You Start

5 Ways to Follow Through and Finish Something That You Start

As humans, we’re great with the idea of starting things. Whether it’s a home renovation project, 1,000-pieces jigsaw puzzle, book trilogy, or yard work, we’ve got the “start” aspect down. However, very few of us are good at finishing. If you – like many others – don’t follow through on a regular basis, this can be frustrating and worrisome. It’s time for you to learn how to consistently finish the tasks that you start.

1. Be Careful of What You Start

In order to finish something that you start, you have to be selective about what you start in the first place. If you’re always starting new tasks and projects without considering the amount of time, money, or effort required, then you aren’t going to be much of a “closer”.

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“I have embarked on things which I was half-interested in in the past, for example learning tennis or learning Japanese. Eventually I stopped them mid-way. This resulted in waste of time and resources which could have been better utilized elsewhere,” life coach Celestine Chua says. “If you set a high threshold on what you want to do, the completion rate is also higher.”

2. Set Goals and Milestones

Let’s say you embark on the massive goal of building your own house. If your only goal is to finish the house so that it’s move-in ready, do you really think you’re going to stay motivated for months or years? Probably not. However, if you set goals and milestones along the way – such as finishing the foundation, framing the walls, installing plumbing and electrical, constructing the roof, etc. – you’re much more likely to stay on track. The moral of the story is that goals are good.

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3. Use A Reward System

CBT Nuggets, a leading online IT training vendor, encourages using some sort of rewards-based system with clients to help them stay on track. They even use it in-house to ensure success.

“One of our team members here at CBT Nuggets talks about his training habit including hot tea with lots of sugar in it when he sits down to train, every afternoon at 1:00,” Karin Klinger explains. “He is so consistent in drinking sugary tea while he trains, that now when he gets a craving for tea and sugar, his brain also expects that it’s time to train. He has successfully married his training to a time (cue) and reward (tea with sugar), which has resulted in the development of a true habit.”

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4. Carve Out Time

The reason so many people fail to finish projects is because they don’t make time for them. They always put the work off, saying something like, “I’ll get around to it tomorrow.” Well, the truth is that you won’t get around to it if you don’t carve out some time. Add the task to your schedule and you’ll probably succeed.

5. Find an Accountability Partner

Depending on how your intrinsic motivation works and the amount of ambition and discipline you have, it may be challenging for you to stay on track. It’s possible to encourage yourself, but it’s also good to have someone else help you out.

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Find an accountability partner and ask them to check on you. For example, let’s say you’re reading a book and have a goal of finishing it in 10 days. You can have your accountability partner call each evening at 9 p.m. to ask for a recap of what you read. This simple act will increase your chances of staying on track.

It’s Time to Start Finishing!

Once you realize that it’s possible to consistently finish what you start, your whole mindset will change. Suddenly, you’ll realize that you can accomplish things and embark on challenges without fear of failure.

Use these tips to get started!

Featured photo credit: Entrepreneur via entrepreneur.com

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Larry Alton

Business Consultant

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

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Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Stay Motivated

Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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