I have ideas… lots of ideas.
More than I know what to do with most days.
These ideas often result in a lot of projects – many going on simultaneously, competing for my time and attention.
In the past, I’d set goals for these projects and create a plan to get the work done, but even when I had a staff of people helping me I still had trouble getting projects finished. My issue wasn’t that I couldn’t do the work, or that I didn’t know what to do next – no, my problem was something far worse.
I wouldn’t always finish what I started.
Now if you said this to me a few years ago, I would have argued with you vehemently (sometimes we don’t know that we don’t know). I would have pointed to all the things I’d accomplished in the last week – let alone my entire life.
What I now realize is that while I did get a lot of things done – too many were rushed, or just plain underwhelming when they were finished. I was never really happy with some projects, but I didn’t know why.
This is how the cycle would go for me (do not attempt this at home):
- See a problem and come up with a solution
- Set goals and make a plan
- Start working
- Get distracted by a shiny new problem
- “Hit the pause button” and repeat steps 1-5
Typically things would go just fine, until I’d get bored – or something new and exciting would come along – then that would be all I’d want to focus on. I would throw all my attention into that new thing, and leave the original project to collect dust.
Unfortunately, for a lot of entrepreneurs, our enthusiasm about new opportunities and new problems to solve often make this the rule rather than the exception.
That being said, we can finish the things we start when we overcome these two obstacles to completing our projects:
Focus on one thing at a time.
Commit to work on one thing at a time and give it your best efforts. Pat Flynn had a podcast on this very subject just a couple of weeks ago. You should check it out if you’re not familiar with the concept. In his podcast (which is shorter than usual) he addresses the concept of working on one thing at a time and how it is actually more efficient and productive than one might think. Check out Pat’s Podcast here.
Commit to finishing (well).
There comes a point when the shiny new thing is no longer the shiny new thing. That said, it was once the exciting new idea that got you up in the middle of the night. It was the reason you put that note pad on your bedside table – so why are you willing to let it drift off into the sunset now?
Commit to that idea – to that project – it deserves to be finished (well) before you move on to the next thing. It deserves to be powered up, to be rolled out, and to be launched with pride.
There is no shortage of great things that need to be done.
The world needs your idea to come to fruition. It needs that problem you’ve identified to be solved. It needs that article you are writing, that application you are programming, that tool you are building. It needs your work to be completed.
So here’s my challenge (and it’s to me as much as anyone): Start finishing what you start.