Have you ever started something and not finished it?
Well, you’re not alone. We all have a tendency to start out with great intentions but then not follow through. Starting things is simple in fact. It’s progress that is hard. Think of all those books you couldn’t wait to read, but never actually finished; the projects you giddily started that petered to stagnation; the ideas that never moved into actual conception.
Of course, not everything is meant to be finished, but many of us have a boatload of projects, books, emails, and to-dos that have been relegated to a kind of purgatory of incompletion.
My blog is one such example. I started out with a bang back in 2010 and never missed a week without putting out an article for nearly three years. I even wrote a blog post congratulating myself on how consistent I was.
Then I fell of the wagon.
Oh the shame…
So how did I pull myself together and climb back on the bike? Well, here are three things that helped me, that hopefully can help you too.
1. Find a Reason
“I’ve found a reason for me, to change who I used to be. A reason to start over new, and the reason is ______” – Hooberstank.
We all need a reason – a “vision” you might say – to get and keep moving. A vision is a picture of a preferred future that inspires action, and in my opinion nothing gets us and keeps us motivated like a compelling vision.
For me, I had lost my “why” for blogging (I found it again so stay tuned), and because of that – there was no reason to push through the inevitable barriers I would have to face (not enough time, too many distractions etc etc). So whether its wanting to exercise more, stop smoking, or write a book – get a vision as to WHY you want to achieve those things. What will achieving your vision feel like? What difference will it make to you or to the world? Then write your vision down. Stick it somewhere as a reminder. Then…
2. Make a plan
Vision without action is merely a dream. If we are to see our visions realised, we must have a plan, and work the plan! If your vision requires multiple smaller steps (most do), then map out a progression plan. Break it down into smaller bit-size chunks. If it requires time out of your day or week or month (which it most certainly will), then SCHEDULE IT. Actually take out your diary or calendar or whatever you use, and carve out time every day or every week to ensure you do something. If you need help in doing this, check this out.
3. Give yourself permission to do crappy work.
A bad plan put into action is far better than a perfect plan un-acted upon. A lazy workout at the gym is better than no workout at all. Similarly, when it comes to writing or blogging or preparing a presentation, give yourself permission to write bad content. Almost every first draft is awful, but know that you have taken a huge step forward in the process. Just start something now and get going.
And you’ll find that if you give yourself permission, you’ll actually end up doing some pretty good work in the end.
4. Keep going…
The law of inertia tells us a body in motion stays in motion. And the same goes for projects, creative ideas, daily tasks, half-written emails, and that thing you stopped working on to read this article. So, minimise distractions, and if you fall off the horse, don’t get discouraged or throw it all away – just pick yourself up and keep going. Momentum builds momentum.