Want to run your first 5K? Volunteer to be the project manager at work? Looking to start your family or yourself on a path to healthier eating? Always dreamed of travelling abroad? Goals and objectives vary from one person to another, but we all have them.
Now think about how long these dreams have been on your bucket list. Any one of them could be accomplished with several weeks or months of hard work, but often we stagnate in the early stages of goal setting and never follow through.
Or, to put it a simpler way, you can’t finish something you don’t start.
We all have goals or bucket list items, and whether they are personal or professional, many of us are nearly paralyzed by inaction or inability to follow through. Here are five tips for finishing what you start.
1. Start With a Small, Measurable Goal
It’s human nature to get frustrated by failure. So instead of setting yourself up for disappointment, choose a goal that can be achieved in a short amount of time and without many roadblocks. That way you can feel the rush of success, propelling you to take on your next, larger, longer-term goal. This makes you less likely to quit altogether.
For example, instead of committing to “eating healthier from now on,” why not commit to “no fried food for the next two weeks.” Once you’ve seen success with that aspect of healthy eating, you could build on your home cooking success with the goal of, “I’m going to cook at home for the next two weeks.” As you build these easily measurable healthy habits, you will be on your way to achieving your original goal of healthy eating, but in manageable and measurable small increments.
2. Know your Non-Negotiables
If you are the type to start projects but never finish them, you need to narrow down your list of goals, projects and to-dos. The person who sets ten goals but achieves none is not as successful as the person who sets and achieves only one goal. Plus, the frustration of leaving so much unaccomplished can be a deterrent to moving forward.
So take a hard look at your goals and determine which ones are non-negotiable. Which ones are time sensitive or have others counting on you? Don’t be a jack of all trades but a master of none.
Write these non-negotiable goals down and include the steps needed to achieve them. For example, if you want to be a project manager for an upcoming task at work, write out a list of the conversations you need to have, the research you may need to do, and the resources you need to put in place.
3. Manage Time Well and Track Your Advancement
Poor prioritization can be the enemy of follow through. Now that you’ve written out your goal and the steps needed to get there, prioritize what needs to happen first and how much time each task will take. Oftentimes a goal is abandoned when the time needed to achieve it is underestimated.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
Sure, this many seem counterintuitive if you’re working on your follow through, but, as the song says, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.” Sometimes the best trait of successful people is they do not continue to sink time and money into a project doomed to fail.
And if you decide to say no to or stop a project, all is not lost. You’ve gained decision-making abilities, you’ve made some progress, and you can learn from the mistakes.
5. Celebrate Successes
The rush of finishing what you start, crossing it off your to-do list, and enjoying the benefits is often motivation enough to start and finish your next objective. But take the time to celebrate these successes (and even smaller accomplishments along the way) and provide motivation for future endeavors.
For example, after finishing your 8-week couch-to-5K training and running in your first race, reflect on what worked and what did not. Also celebrate by treating yourself to your favorite meal or posting a great finish-line photo on social media.
Recognizing you are a chronic starter but not a strong finisher is an important first step to learning to follow through. By learning from these five tips, you can learn to be better at finishing what you start!
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