The problem can be that, with the best intentions in the world, plans change, motivation fluctuates and we find ourselves losing interest in even finishing a project.
For me I know it may be symptomatic on an undiagnosed ADHD. But knowing the situation at the beginning really helps. There have been many times when I have started a project only to find a lack of motivation to proceed at some point. The problem is pervasive across the business and athletic environments.
Why do we find ourselves in a position where, we start a project only to find our motivation wanes? Take for example one personal situation… I had registered my first company with my family when I was fifteen years old. It was a printing business in the UK that was based out of my parents garage for the first year or so. Pretty soon we had outgrown that space and looked for another place to run the company. That turned out to be an old brick stables in a Victorian manor house that was owned by my wife’s parents. Complete with moose heads on the wall and stuffed geese piled in some corner we made ourselves the new tenants.
At that time, it was apparent that an education in printing would be useful. The course at the institution I looked at was three years in length and required a short weekly commute to Nottingham in the UK. I soon found a way to come home twice a week to get more of Mum’s home cooking but also to allow me to continue to help run the company on the weekends and Wednesday afternoons. College was initially interesting, there was valuable new information that could assist me in creating a successful business however, as time wore on my interest in finishing the course waned.
In my mind, I didn’t need the piece of paper that said I had done the course because I did not need to look for a job. The tedious last few months of going from exam to exam were quite frankly boring and just that, tedious.
Thankfully my father had a little more long sighted vision than I did. I broached the subject of just getting on with running the company and leaving college to really get our business moving. After a few minute conversation it became clear to me that the wrong decision was the decision to quit.
So here is what I learned form that lesson as a very young adult.
1. Finishing is a habit. Don’t break the trend. Start your life by learning to finish your project and don’t let anything distract you from the finish line, otherwise you will be starting a new bad habit.
2. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. When ever life becomes a little overwhelming and you want to quit, get back into the routine of putting one foot in front of the other. The action of moving towards your goal is often enough to keep you feeling good because you are making progress.
3. Create a mental picture of the finish before you get there and treasure it! Often we get distracted by too many things before we get to the finish. Just like me, anxious to get to another project…
4. Don’t quit without talking to someone along the way. Sometimes we need an outside perspective from a third party just when we think about quitting… don’t quit alone!
5. Reward yourself along the way. This is important. Sometimes, projects are lengthy, involved and all consuming. Don’t think you can get to the end without some smaller milestones to celebrate along the way. If I am running a marathon, I save myself some yummy food for somewhere between 30km to the end… just at the point where I could do with a little celebration. With some new food inside me, I am ready to tackle that last 10km.
6. If you can’t finish for yourself, think of another reason. It was clearly important for my Father that I finished. Nowadays, when I tackle an endurance run for charity or a big climb, something that pushes me mentally and physically, I have to think of the young children and families I am trying to help… it is for them that I can get to the finish line, not for me.