completing tasks

The Power of Completion: Mastering the Skill of Finishing What You Start

It’s time to fess up… what projects did you absolutely say you were going to work on that most definitely did not get completed?

One of my priorities was creating a new lead magnet that would help me grow my email list. Creating this essential piece of content is a must for generating new leads. Yet I closed out the year without completing it.

What’s up with that? How could I let a whole year go by and not finish something that’s so impactful to my business?

You may have similar items on your list:

      • Maybe it’s a half-finished project like a houseplant that has just started to wither, but will inevitably die without water.
      • Maybe it’s an idea you had at the beginning of the year that turned into an unmanageable project, or had a challenge you weren’t expecting that got you stuck.
      • Maybe it’s something that’s 98% done but you know that once you finish it, you’ll have to actually make it public – and therefore subject it to the judgment of others.
      • It could even be something that you know will directly impact the success of your business, like my unfinished lead magnet.

    After more than 25 years of working with clients and observing my own behavior, I have noticed that there are four “reasons” people give to justify incomplete projects. Although these reasons may seem real, they can hide the actual things that stop us from making progress.

    Reason #1. You don’t have enough time/you’re too busy/you’re overcommitted

    What’s really happening:  You’re managing time instead of priorities.

    In business and in life, we’re always doing one of three things: a) nothing, b) something less important or c) something more important. Most of our “lost” time happens because we’re stuck in “b) something less important.”

    If you asked yourself “Is this more important or less important for me to do right now?” before starting any project or task, you would probably discover that there are more significant tasks to focus on at the moment.

    Reason # 2. You don’t have the ability or knowledge

    What’s really happening: You’re solving future problems, being a perfectionist, or stuck in indecision.

    You can get overwhelmed if you look ahead and realize you don’t know all the actions to take. I call it “solving a future problem.” You cannot solve a future problem, because it’s in the future! So, we’re wasting time and energy on solving something that’s unsolvable.

    Perfectionists are particularly prone to this because they are already thinking ahead about how they want to do it perfectly, which evolves into getting stuck in indecision about the best actions to take. In reality? Any action is better than no action, and you can always adjust along the way.

    Reason #3. You don’t have the commitment, stamina, or focus to see it through

    What’s really happening: You’re dealing with interruptions, stuck in the messy middle, or without a clear plan or deadline.

    Starting new projects is lots of fun. The ideas are fresh and the work seems effortless. In a perfect world, we just keep working on it uninterrupted and without any obstacles popping up.

    In the world we actually live in, interruptions are constantly happening, and obstacles arise when decisions need to be made or the work gets boring (like figuring out the tech part of starting a podcast, or needing an editor to polish off a book.)

    Meanwhile, what we love about being entrepreneurs is that WE get to set the schedule of when we work on projects, except that without a plan or a deadline, we often DON’T work on them. (This is why coaches are so effective. But you knew I was going to say that.)

    Reason # 4. You don’t think your finished product will be good enough (or be too good)

    What’s really happening: You have a fear of judgement, wasted effort, or even too much success.

    I once read a quote, “People don’t want to have their ability judged, they’d rather have their effort judged.” And that makes not completing a project very convenient.  Because you can always say you’re working on it, and then never have to actually finish it and open it to the judgement of others.

    We also hate working on things if we don’t know for sure ahead of time that they’re going to work out. It’s ingrained in us to not waste time. What if we do a whole bunch of work on something only to find out it didn’t produce the results we wanted?

    And sometimes it’s not failure, but success that has us avoid completing a task or project. Do too good of a job the first time and you might be setting yourself up with impossible standards for the future. Many of us (despite our claims to the opposite) actually have a hard time acknowledging, accepting and receiving the experience that success brings to us, because we’re so used to being in the struggle.

    Don’t let the four “reasons” of why we don’t complete projects hold you back. Remember, managing priorities, taking imperfect action, creating a plan and deadline, and embracing the fear of judgment or success can help you move forward. By acknowledging these common obstacles and understanding what’s really happening, you can take the necessary steps to finally finish those projects and move your business forward!

    It’s a common challenge for all entrepreneurs to struggle with completing projects. Have you ever wondered about your own strengths and weaknesses as the “CEO” of your business? I’ve created a quiz that can help you gain insights into your leadership style and areas for growth. It’s a fun way to reflect on your skills and discover opportunities for development. Take the quiz and unlock your CEO potential today! Click here to take the quiz.