We can see the finishing line but we don’t get there, on projects at work and home. Peter Hollins the author of “Finish What you Start” explores why this happens. He describes the unfinished projects as the mental scrapyard in our heads.
We go into projects in week 1 with a surge of inspiration we are full of ideas we are literally fizzing. We have four follow through muscles:-
- Take Action
The starting point is being focused on what you want to achieve being clear of those first actions and knowing what distractions we must resist in order to persist.
However in reality what happens is we weaken those muscles by either getting distracted or just deciding that the task is too hard. We then create the psychological roadblock of Perfectionism. When the task gets harder our ego kicks in and we don’t want to fail so we make the task impossibly hard to achieve. Perfectionism is insecurity in disguise, we have made the task impossibly good instead of good enough.
The sad reality is that we only learn when we have a finished product. By adopting a finishing mindset you know at the end you can look back and evaluate this is where you know that you have learnt something. You might create a terrible blog post but it is there for everyone to see and you can take the feedback and write a better one the next time. It is better to have put something out there than not have done anything.
We need to get better at finishing so therefore we need to create a manifesto (a set of rules) that we can apply when we start on a project.
- I want – write down ultimately what you want to finish
- I will – think of the first action, it can be really small as the momentum will lead to bigger actions
- I won’t – in the next hour I won’t look at my emails
This rule is simple to adopt if you think when scheduling your day of packets of time/1 hour blocks and state using the want/will/won’t is going to happen.
By starting you are crushing procrastinations the most potent weapon inertia
This is an implementation intention and will triple the rate of follow through.
The second rule to adopt is the 10/10/10. We have our two selves Present and Future self. Your present self is wanting immediate pleasure and wants to avoid immediate pain at any cost so will drag down the future self into inactivity. The 10/10/10 rule is imagining the following:-
- What does it look like if I procrastinate for 10 minutes?
- What does it look like if I procrastinate for 10 hours?
- What does it look like if I procrastinate for 10 days?
The idea is that the 10 day procrastination will be so unattractive as a visualisation exercise that you encourage and get yourself into action. The pain and guilt of letting yourself down and others of being inactive for that long is so damaging you want to start to work those follow through muscles. You don’t want to be that person.
Finish is about learning, use those follow through muscles today and share your nuggets of learning with me firstname.lastname@example.org