I'll be the first to admit that 100% follow through on a project is tough. Sometimes things are out of your control, sometimes you get tired, and sometimes you almost finish but then jump to something else instead. Since it's January, of course people are still talking about new year's resolutions, what you've accomplished, and who has already fallen off the wagon. I imagine the gyms are even now starting to thin out as we speak.
So how do you become one of the finishers?
Several things come into play when you change a bad habit, and yes, not completing tasks is a bad habit. However it's one you can overcome if you figure out your weaknesses and strengths. I recently took a 2 day workshop on business goal planning and it was one of the best things I've done for myself as a small business owner. I questioned the cost because I consider myself a great planner, but it truly was worth it to take the 2 days to examine my past year of business and really pinpoint the ups and downs. I couldn't talk my way out of the facts before me because statistics are not a negotiable thing. But it was so good for me to see the good, bad, and ugly, process everything, and then immediately start making my goals for this year, taking into consideration what I should change to make this year even better.
Analyze Your Past Habits
The first step of moving past your past is to figure out what went wrong. It would be fantastic if we could just pull up Google Analytics on our habits and see our most successful endeavors, our money making ideas that came to fruition, and what not to waste our time on. Until that happens, you've simply got to do some soul searching to figure it out. Take a look at your calendar from last year or a journal you've kept and see what days were the most happy and productive. The same goes for the not so happy and productive days. Examples to analyze:
Major projects at work completed and those that just dragged
House renovations/repairs completed and those that were not
The happiest, least stressful holiday last year
The most stressful holiday last year
Vacations that you enjoyed and also the ones that left you feeling drained afterwards
Your best and worst days of the past year
Find The Pattern
Now that you've got your statistics, you've really got to put your pride aside and figure out the big question - WHY? I know it sounds silly, but sometimes this is a major A HA moment for people. We spend so much effort just trying to get through the day that we don't stop to think about why or if we could be doing it differently or better or both. I for one would rather find my successes and replicate the circumstances behind those for all of my future projects. Who wants to set themselves up for failure? If you continue to start new projects with the same old habits and expect new results, you are kidding yourself.
Some people (me included) find that another person's input and approval is just enough to get a task to the completed stage. Take organizing a space for instance. Most of my clients already know what they need to get rid of, but when I give them the final stamp of approval it's a big relief to know they were right all along and then they can finally let go. I find this happens with donations as well. You know you need to get rid of an item, you set it aside to be donated, but the final piece of the puzzle is actually bringing the item in to be donated, not leaving it in the garage or a closet. That is why I gladly take donations with me so my clients can have that 100% satisfaction of seeing their items through to the end.
Find Your Motivation
Holding yourself accountable is a difficult task. Just because completing a project is the "right thing to do" does not mean it's going to get done. At work people are motivated by getting their paycheck or not getting fired, but at home it's a bit harder. Setting a deadline often helps. Breaking big projects down into smaller, manageable chunks helps, too. Scheduling rewards for yourself, especially if other people are relying on you for, say a lunch out with friends, can be a great motivator, as well.
Done Is Better Than Perfect
This is one of my absolute favorite sayings for myself when the going gets tough. Often I'll finish a project to about 90% and then get bored and move on to something else. I'll obsess about getting the last tiny part of it perfect, so I research and research (my favorite method of procrastination), but don't act on anything because it's not perfect. Nothing is ever perfect! I've taken to repeating the phrase, "Done is better than perfect," so I don't get stuck in that 90% done loop anymore.
So get out your schedules and journals and start running the statistics on your life. It's an eye opener and not always fun, but it's worth it in the end if you want to improve yourself. What a great resolution worth sticking to! And if you find that you are one of those people that need the support factor to take your project to 100% done, then give me a call. I'll be your stamp of approval any time you need it!