Why it’s so hard to finish what you start and what you can do about it

Do you have trouble finishing what you start?

Anything from cleaning out your garage to planting a garden or losing weight. What happens to us that we just struggle to get to the finish line? Is it human nature to start projects and never completely finish them?

Projects that started strong are left unfinished. Plans that once looked so promising and you started with enthusiasm, were never finished. You said you’d get back to it, but you never did.

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If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

I started writing a novel last December.

I finished my 1st draft in March. It’s currently in its 4th draft.

I thought these final revisions would be easy. They’re nearly done. But I find myself struggling to get through these last edits.

The work is tedious, but necessary. I feel like a mechanic who’s taken an engine apart and now the parts surround me in a mess. Or like I’m in the middle of a remodel project that feels like it will never end and I’m ready for it to be done.

Sometimes the self-doubt sets in and I wonder if I’ll ever finish. I’m ready to get back to writing for the fun of it.

That’s my struggle.

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Starting vs. Finishing

When you start something new, you’re fresh and exhilarated.

But when you’ve been at it for a while, the novelty wears off. The further you go, the more tempting it may be to stop before you get to the finish line.

There are good reasons for that:

Fatigue. You get tired of working on the same thing for so long, you want to quit. It wears you down.

Boredom. You want that fresh, new beginning. You’re ready to do something else. 

Reality. When you first start you’re excited and determined, but it’s hard to maintain that level of enthusiasm to the end. You’ll have ups and downs. The inevitable “downs” will test your commitment to finish.

What’s next? When you’ve worked on a project for so long it gets in your psyche and becomes who you are. (Being a student, for example.) What will you do when you finish? You enjoy the afterglow of your accomplishment, but then it’s time to do something else.

So if those are some of the reasons it’s hard to finish, what can you do about it?

Strategies to help you push through.

Accept that it takes time. Work as much as you can when you can and take it one day at a time. There’s no rushing through it.

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Complete a task toward your goal every day. Even if it’s something small. Plan your work then work your plan. 

Set realistic deadlines. Putting unrealistic stringent deadlines on yourself can lead to frustration and discouragement. Look at your plan, calculate the end date, then mark your calendar and adjust as needed.

Take the good with the bad. It helps if you like the work. But there are some tasks that are tedious and more challenging than others. Decide if it’s best to pace yourself, recruit help, or just push through.

Minimize distractions. Especially when tedium and boredom set in, recognize distractions that will keep you from finishing. Set a timer for thirty minutes or an hour to help you commit to focused working time. 

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Focus on your goal. Keep reminding yourself why you started. Put up pictures of your end goal. Visualize success.

Yes, it’s hard to finish, but totally do-able.

Work through the frustration and that longing to do something else. Stay focused on your goals so you can accomplish what you set out to do.

I’m right there with you.

5 thoughts on “Why it’s so hard to finish what you start and what you can do about it

  • August 28, 2017 at 9:23 am

    One habit at a time!!

    • August 29, 2017 at 8:54 am

      True. Good point. We don’t want to overwhelm ourselves : ) Thanks!

    • August 29, 2017 at 9:04 am

      True. Good point. Thanks!

  • August 29, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Thanks Ruby… I have this problem… finishing what I started a lot!!! For me it’s the tedious task of simply starting, other times it’s the bordum of the task… the majority of the time is just me being lazy!!! Lol. Now that I’m pregnant, I’m trying to be better… we’ll see how I do… stay amazing Ms. Ruby!!

    • August 29, 2017 at 8:50 am

      Hi Angelica! Congratulations on your pregnancy : ) Rest assured that most people have trouble finishing things at one time or another. You are not alone! Take care and keep at it. One day at a time.

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