I thought I was a particular sort of weird, but after looking around and speaking with lots of people and listening to the experts, I realize that many of us have this pattern and modus operandi.
I recently evaluated why people sometimes quit things, either when they get too hard, or get frustrating, or are intrinsically no longer satisfying, or for whatever reason, the task or the “thing on the list” remains incomplete, unstarted, or is just plain causing you guilt trips.
I have done this as well. The irony is that I’ve reached tons of goals in my life including successfully finishing graduate school with cum laude honors (that’s a whole other blog entry…the idea of having status, title etc…stay tuned), becoming financially unemcumbered, decluttering my home and leading a mostly minimalistic lifestyle, starting a small veggie patch in pots, and following through on branding and launching my own small e-commerce business.
But it’s the little things. It’s the little things that we give up or put off daily that tend to thwart our progress and growth and, if you get right down to it, are the most frustrating and challenging.
Have you started something new and left it unfinished? Look around, and I bet you have the piles, the boxes, or the projects that fall precisely into this category. Or when we put off doing those things that we know will get us to the next level, like writing that article or book, or doing the extra work out or maybe just starting the physical activity regimen, or changing our nutritional patterns to get healthier and avoid the health disasters down the road. Or maybe pursuing the act of connecting with that influencer, or taking your business to another platform to see more success. Or refurbishing that dresser or rebuilding that old antique car that’s sitting in the garage, or actually finishing that online course after having paid lots of money for it. Or when we put off doing the big trip, not planning, saving, or getting excited about it. Or when we keep making lists that have items that never get checked off, only to be transferred to the next list. We all have that list, and we’re all guilty to some degree.
What is that block or fear that gets in the way of that exciting thing that’s on the list? Is it the fear of failing? Is it the pain of working through the completion process? Is it just plain laziness? Is it the fear of success or what might happen when we actually get what we want? Is it some weird sense of fear about completing it and then having to start something new, that “what’s next” phenomenon?
Recognizing that you might have these inclinations is the first step to resolving it. Here are some of my thoughts and how I am working on this in my own little part of the world. Is it perfect? No way, but it is a step forward for me, and sometimes getting the momentum going is all that you need.
Recall the things that you believed you wanted to achieve and dig deep to figure out why you stopped them. Are you seeing a pattern? For the future, evaluate what is driving you to start something new. Is it to advance your career? Is it to prove a point? Is it to make money? Is it to reach some level of freedom? Is it to distract you from finishing other important tasks or goals? Is it to reach some other goal that only you know about?
Figure out why it’s important to you – and you are the only one that counts. Yes, we do things for our family, our jobs, or some other noble cause, but I think you have to make this about you…everything else subsequently falls into place. Ensure that you have motivations that come from your heart. Make the project or task meaningful. The proposition of overcoming the initial steps can be daunting so just get the ball rolling. Look the feeling of overwhelm in the eye and squash it minute by minute, day by day, week by week. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else’s way of being in the world or anyone else’s progress or achievements (unless you know and recognize that this helps you, but I find that comparison can be utterly demoralizing and ineffective in meeting my personal success at my specific pace).
Also, give yourself a timeline on when to finish or when you want to do the big reveal. Then stick to it. Don’t commit to anything else that is new or will distract you from completion. Hard work, structuring time in your day, and toiling through a task or project – these are certainly not glamorous but are a crucial part of the journey of the efforting that will get you there. I find that the act of doing the work in itself can be quite rewarding.
It can be difficult sharing your goals as there are naysayers out there who will try to keep you down. Maybe you have that one person that you can trust to be your accountability partner and who can call you out when you’re falling back into your old ways or are otherwise stuck.
Monitor your own progress and be realistic. If you look back, you will soon see that you have come such a long way as long as you keep hacking the “thing” consistently, diligently, intentionally, and most of all, by having fun with it. Recognize that your game plan is working and give yourself credit.
What’s so interesting is that in the past, we may have completed something that meant a lot to us at the time and that showed us we “can do.” We know we achieved the thing we set out to do or completed that project that took a few years (like a degree or other formalized education). Don’t let doubt or fear stop you in your tracks or keep you from repeating success.
The feeling of finishing and personal accomplishment are hugely gratifying. It will give you the confidence and the feeling of power to get you through the next thing. Use that prior achievement as a blueprint for what is holding you back now.
Repeating patterns that actually worked or reworking them can take you places!
What’s on your list to start and complete?
This is my first blog entry of a commitment of 30 days of blog writing as I have had this site for about a year now with few entries. Who knows what I will write on and where it will take me…but it’s the project I am starting and completing!