4 Secrets to Finishing What You Start

Are you haunted by the ghosts of unfinished goals? I never met an idea I didn’t like, so I know all about the excitement of starting and the difficulty of finishing. 

These secrets may seem counterintuitive, but I dare you to give them a try anyway. 

Secret #1: Cut Your Goal in Half

This is NOT about lowering your expectations. If your goal is to lose ten pounds and you only lose eight you don’t feel like you almost got there you feel like you failed by two and you give up. 

What if you cut the goal in half. If you’re goal was to lose 5 pounds and you lost 8, you are pumped and excited to keep going. After all, you beat your goal by 3 pounds.

According to a study of 900 people, it was found that people who cut their goals in half were 63% more successful in the long term. That’s insane. 

The problem is that people make their goal when their motivation is the highest. Motivation is the most temporary substance in the world. It leaves when the work shows up and you’ve got this massive goal. Cut your goal in half or break the goal into smaller pieces and the motivation becomes more permanent. 

If somebody said to me they wanted to write a book I wouldn’t tell them to write half a book. I would tell them to write a chapter, finish it, celebrate it, write a second chapter, finish it, celebrate it. 

Secret #2: Choose What to Bomb

In our culture we are taught you can do everything and you should do everything. 

Let’s say you’re a working mom. Today with social media you can compare yourself in 30 seconds to other moms and feel like a complete loser. 

The other mom is always holding hands with her husband, forming the shape of hearts, and #blessed, and their meals are mac and cheese but it’s glorified with a gouda demi glaze. 

You are making that sad bowl of Easy Mac for your kid and you’re tired of stirring. Your kid is like, “It’s really powdery,” and you’re like, “Life is hard.” You compare. 

One mom told me, “During a busy season, my kids know that clothes get clean but not folded and put away.” She has the laundry chair. If we’re all honest we all have a laundry chair. 

It’s your third machine. It goes washer, dryer, chair. I love that her kids can look at their clothes and see that they are wrinkled so mom must be busy. If there’s things you can’t ignore or that you suck at then delegate them. Ask for help. Simplify them. Figure them out for the season. 

You choose what you’re not going to worry about. 

Secret #3: Make It Fun

When you ask people to name the five words you think of when you think of a goal, they say, “Hustle, willpower, grind, strain, persistence,” they never say, “Joy, laughter, engagement, fulfillment.” 

A study of 900 people found that people who are deliberate about making something fun are 31% more satisfied, and they are 46% more successful.

If you only raise your satisfaction (fun) but not your performance (success) you are smiling all the way to last place. If you only raise your performance (success) but not your satisfaction (fun)then you will be a very rich, miserable person. 

We’ve all met people who are really successful and hate their lives. It’s because they over focus on performance and they never thought about satisfaction. 

There are a lot of unfun things you’re going to have to do. So, it’s not to have fun, it’s to make it fun. It’s about being deliberate to make sure that you find joy in the things that aren’t inherently fun. Give yourself a reward or some form of motivation that helps you finish what the thing actually is. 

Fun can mean whatever you want it to mean. You can be goofy and silly, and weird. Most importantly be deliberate about how you add joy to what you do. 

Secret #4: Get Rid of Your Secret Rules. 

A secret rule is essentially something you believed a long time ago that isn’t true and you still believe it. It’s shaping a lot of your life without you even knowing it. It’s a limiting belief. 

Maybe it was in the 8th grade a teacher told you you’re not a good public speaker. Even now as your company gives you chances to lead meetings and get visibility you tell them you aren’t good at it and you don’t do it. It’s because in 8th grade you accepted that as a tattoo. 

I had client who is an extremely talented artist, although she didn’t see it that way. She would shred every piece of artwork at the very end of creating it, because her rule was that it had to be perfect. I invited her to stop the shredding. After some more time of challenging her limiting beliefs, she did. Now she sells her art for hundreds of dollars. 

A couple questions to consider to get ‘er done!

What does your goal look like cut in half or broken into smaller pieces?

What other tasks priorities can you let go of or get support on, to make room for what’s most important to you?

What brings you joy. How can you bring it to your work to make it more fun?

What’s a secret rule or limiting belief that keeps you stuck?

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