Many of us begin the New Year as enthusiastic self-starters with a plan to always finish what we’ve started.
We’ve declared to ourselves that we will renovate the bathroom, write our first novel, or join a yoga/gym studio and go to it. However, after getting started, we find our interest begins to wane, our enthusiasm dries up and the once exciting project has now turned into an endurance test.
Why is it so often that people give up half way through?
What went wrong?
Feeling lost, a lack of energy, we start to beat ourselves up which causes us to feel ashamed and guilty.
WHY DO WE START THINGS AND NEVER FINISH THEM?
The main reason we can go from spontaneous go-getter to serial deserter and abandon projects, is because we’ve not emotionally invested in the WHOLE project.
We’ve fallen in love with the idea but not the journey.
Setting a goal to complete a new project can give us an emotional high. We enjoy declaring to the world our decision, “I’m joining a gym”, “talking to an interior designer” etc. There’s a pleasurable feeling. It can be a mix of excitement, adventure, and possibility.
Our endorphins have clearly kicked in and keep us going for a while until we hit our first speed bump. Then we tank.
However there’s a variety of reasons why people start projects and abandon them at various stages of completion and they are:-
- A lack of focus and planning
- Underestimating the required time and effort needed
- Interruptions from family/work events that derail the project
- Lack of prioritising
- Difficulty asking for help
- Not surrounded by support or supportive people
- Not enough discipline
We want smooth sailing from A to B and forget about the obstacles or challenges that can get in the way and make us feel uncomfortable. Experiencing physical or emotional discomfort starts the ruminating of negative feelings and thoughts like, “it’s taking too long or my body aches”. Then doubt and confusion can creep in, and we can lose motivation and confidence to overcome that hurdle.
Another reason is that we fail to benchmark and celebrate our successes. We don’t stop to celebrate our progress, only the completion of the task. Unmistakeable progress allows us to gather further momentum, motivating us to and keep our eye on the prize.
The truth is the longer you delay doing something, the more stress and pressure you’re likely to feel to a point when you are unlikely to complete the task.
Now you feel stuck and grind to a halt.
When we get stuck we’re not giving up or abandoning the project. It’s more of a stop and put off. There are many reasons why we stop. It can be waiting for inspiration or better conditions for the undesirable to become desirable. Until such time, we keep putting it off and get distracted by life, hoping that in time it will get easier to do again.
HOW CAN WE MAKE SURE WE’LL FINISH?
A lot has been written about setting SMART goals, but through NLP we go deeper to exploring the programming of our minds and what drives us towards our desired goal.
Michael Hall a researcher, NLP Master practitioner and prolific author of 30 books on cognitive science says that our brain works primarily from our sensory system of sounds, pictures and feelings. If we combine that with language, we can increase our motivation and move from our present state towards our desired state.
If you specify the goal in sensory based terms, and concentrate on what you see, hear and feel you can direct your attention towards the internal and external resources you will need to achieve it. In this way, we can make sure that we are passionate about it, that we are deeply connected to it to keep our attention, and have planned the resources we will need to complete it.
Here are 5 simple ways that will guarantee you’ll always finish what you’ve started:
- Before embarking on this new project, what about first reflecting on past actions. Make a list of past projects and use columns to write on what, why and how you were stopped. Can you identify any patterns of stopping and starting on these certain projects? This could give you important information on where to change behaviours and how to manage your future endeavours.
- Sometimes we can skip the research stage but we are missing out on gathering vital information that can help you mange the distractions or obstacles. For example, I contacted other life coaches that had written a book because I wanted to know whether it was a worthwhile venture to grow my business. I can guarantee that someone has done the same project and will be able to provide you with helpful tips and shortcuts.
- If you fail to plan, you’ll plan to fail as you haven’t factored in the time, money and resources needed to complete it. Look at your schedule and block out chunks of time to avoid competing with other aspects of daily life. It’s also helpful to have a rough completion date so you can estimate the amount of energy output and then work backwards. Remember to celebrate the first quarter, halfway and three quarter milestones, not just the completion.
- Consider letting go of it being perfect. Perfectionism is a set of self-defeating thought patterns that push you to try to achieve unrealistically high goals and can actually do you more harm than good. Perfectionists live by a rigid set of rules that can be unrelenting and unrealistic and often leads to things not being finished. If you think you could be a perfectionist, identify why you believe that each task has to be perfect, and come up with a course of action to challenge this behaviour.
- Sometimes, despite all your careful research, planning and effort it’s not coming together. Maybe you’ve lost interest in the topic, or you’ve realised that it’s not going to deliver the outcome you thought. In this instance, I believe there’s wisdom in not taking further action down this course and pushing through. After signing up with a publisher and starting to write my chapters, I remember getting a sick feeling in my stomach. The book title “Beat your Brain Bully” wasn’t coming together. So I stepped back for 2 months and realised that writing about the inner critic was not connected to my Life Balance Coach branding. During those months, I received an email enquiry and her first sentence was “Hi Fiona, I’m stuck in a rut …” and so I parked my old book outline and created a new. Fifteen months later it’s a three times award winning self help motivational paperback, that’s sold in major bookstores across Australia.
In getting myself to finish what I start, I believe that an element of fun and enjoyment has to be included in each and every project. It will automatically uplift your spirits making you more productive in all your work endeavours. If you can follow the above helpful tips and suggestions, I’m sure you will avoid getting yourself stuck.
Fiona Craig is an NLP practitioner & life coach, psychotherapist, business mentor, and published author of the award winning self-help book, “Stuck in a Rut – How to rescue yourself & live your truth” helping women remove the fear, worry and guilt to confidently take the steps towards creating the life they want to live.
Fiona has been interviewed by The Australian Women’s Weekly, Women’s Fitness Magazine and The New Daily and written articles for Collective Magazine, Herald Sun Melbourne, Sunday Life Magazine, Career One, I Am Woman Magazine, plus Mouths Of Mums and other online publications. You can learn more about working with Fiona at www.lifebalancecoach.com.au or call 0405 433 217.