Do you ever feel like Doug from Pixar’s Up? One minute you’re passionate about a project, and then the next minute… squirrel! Your metaphorical squirrel could be another project, loss of passion, unforeseen challenges to reach your goal, or even everyday life occurrences like laundry or grocery shopping. It can be frustrating to feel like you’re out of sync with your aspirations, or that you have multiple unfinished projects. Don’t despair. It doesn’t always have to be this way. There are a few things you can do to stay in the game to finish what you start.
The most important item is to make sure that your goal—what you’re starting—is important to you and that you’re passionate about it. If you’re not excited about your new endeavor in the first place, and you have a history of abandoning projects, it might be extremely difficult to muster the motivation to finish. So, select projects carefully and only choose those which are most important to you. Try to stick to one project at a time so that it can receive your full focus.
Assess your resources and determine what you need to complete your project. Take stock of what you already have and make a list of what is pending. This might be different for different types of projects. It might be as simple as reserving a quiet hour a few times a week to work on your laptop. Or, you might require more resources that need to be ordered or even coordinated with other parties. Make arrangements for all needed resources before you start, that way, you have everything ready, and you won’t lose momentum waiting for a resource.
Create milestones and deadlines for yourself. Write them down and commit to sticking to your schedule. Some people find that productivity apps are helpful, others prefer to schedule things on their mobile device calendar, and some are old school and want a physical to-do list. It really doesn’t matter what organizational tactic you employ; the point is to have one and to promise yourself that you will honor the timeline you’ve set.
It can be hard to simply get started, but put that start date in your calendar or on your list. If you get hung up on something, push forward. Many people give up when they hit a challenge. They don’t like the way the project is going, feel they have made a mistake, or come up against a decision wall. Whatever your hurdle may be, take a leap and push through. If you make the right decision, you don’t lose steam on your project. If it turns out to be the ‘wrong’ decision, you will have learned an important lesson. Go back and fix the error or make necessary adjustments. Pushing through challenges can be extremely rewarding and is often a key to finishing what you start. At times, you may need a strategic pause to reassess where you’re at. That’s fine, but set a timeline for restarting your project or risk an infinite pause.
The final step is to give yourself grace. You will make mistakes, it’s okay, don’t give up. You may miss a deadline, don’t abandon the entire project for one missed deadline, keep going. You may lose steam and need a break to revitalize your passion, it’s okay, set a timeline and come back to it. Grace isn’t an excuse to give up, but an acknowledgement that finishing what you started can be hard, and that you are working in good faith to move forward.