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10 Wrong Moves That Stop You From Finishing What You’ve Started

10 Wrong Moves That Stop You From Finishing What You’ve Started

Procrastination is the easiest thing to do because you’re not doing anything! Get proactive and get to work! Start marking things off your To Do list when you read these 10 wrong moves that stop you from finishing what you’ve started.

1. You’re choosing the wrong starting point.

You have a daunting project looming over you, but you haven’t started yet. You just don’t know how to tackle it! You’re probably intimidated by the project because you’re choosing the wrong starting point. Look at your project from different viewpoints, and see if there might be a new way to approach it. You just might find a creative way that inspires you to get started, and you’ll finish your task in no time!

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    2. You’re striving for perfection.

    You want your project to be great, and that’s an understandable goal. But don’t strive for perfection. Do the best job you can do, of course, but if you want everything to be perfect, you might start worrying that it won’t be perfect. And that might keep you from starting in the first place. Devote yourself to the project and work as hard as you can, and you’ll get results you can be proud of.

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    3. You have a fear of failure.

    If you’re striving for perfection, then you probably have a fear of failure. You’re worried that your project won’t be good enough and you’ll be punished or ridiculed. Don’t even think about failure! The only way you can fail is to not do the project at all. Tackle your task and do the best job you can, and there’s no way you will fail.

    4. You underestimate the task.

    When you get your project, sit down and brainstorm. Think about different approaches and different goals. Think of how long it will take you to complete, and be realistic. Don’t underestimate the task! Don’t think you can complete it at the last minute. Break the task into smaller projects and set deadlines for yourself. Make sure you’re meeting each mini-deadline so you won’t miss your final due date.

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    5. You set multidirectional goals.

    You’ve studied your tasks and set deadlines and goals, but are your goals straightforward? Don’t set multidirectional goals that might lead you astray. It’s good to try different approaches to your project, but don’t explore a different path that will keep you from reaching your goals.

    6. You’re not making decisions.

    Be proactive with your project! Don’t get stuck on something just because you can’t decide what to do. Spending too much time pondering the possibilities and the outcomes will make your project stall, and your inspiration will fade right along with it. Be decisive! Make decisions so your project will keep moving forward.

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    7. You’re not allocating time.

    Talk about procrastination! Not devoting time to your project is just like procrastinating. Make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to complete the tasks you’ve assigned yourself until you finish. You’ll have plenty of time to relax and pat yourself on the back when you finish the project, so don’t waste time doing nothing now.

    8. You’re not moving forward.

    All of these steps will help you move forward. Make decisions, set goals, be realistic about what you want to achieve and what you can achieve. This will give you inspiration and drive to complete your project, and have fun along the way!

    9. You’re not focusing.

    Your project is in the works, but you’re not making any progress. You’re devoting time, you’re making decisions, you have goals, but nothing is working. Are you focusing on your project? You might not be devoting your entire self to the purpose. Make sure you focus on your project so it will go smoother and you’ll feel more connected to the whole thing.

    10. You don’t have an end in sight.

    You have a task to complete but you don’t know how it’s going to turn out. That’s OK at the start, but make sure you envision the end goal. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel! You need to have a general idea of how your project is going to turn out so you know what you’re striving for.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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