If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, being an unfinisher is probably more common in your world than that of the non-entrepreneurs (civilians). Entrepreneurs are attracted to the “what ifs” and the adventure of “the new” as moths are attracted to a flame. This analogy, from my perspective of helping many entrepreneurs, is unfortunately all too accurate. As an entrepreneur myself, and the fact that 80% of my clients also belong to this club, I can testify that this is one of the most repeated “help me” issues I face.
Entrepreneurs are responsible for most of the really awesome things we enjoy in life. Someone somewhere had the idea to create, modify, morphe, or mutate something that impacts your life on a daily basis. For this we should all thank an entrepreneur everyday for taking the risks on our behalf.
Because of this high volume of idea creation, entrepreneurs are also the most likely to be unfinishers. You don’t have to be in the E-club to be an unfinisher but the people in the club make for a visible example of the idea of unfinisher.
I want to encourage you today in your unfinishedness. It does not matter if you are a chronic unfinisher or just have a few projects that seem to never come to completion, I want to give you some ideas to help you navigate this ever persistent issue in your day-to-day life.
I am not bringing any shame, in any way, in my advice for you. Unfortunately, the co-workers, friends, and family members are more than happy to proclaim judgement on the unfinisher. Of course, the casting of judgement is not directly in your face but such things that are uttered after you leave the room or from afar. “He never finishes anything” or “Another go nowhere, goofy idea of hers” are among the things they will say. If shaming helped curb the appetite for starting projects that actually get finished there would be nothing to do in this world because all the projects would be done. Clearly shaming does not work.
Similarly, encouraging someone to strive for unfinished work to build self-esteem and relying on the law of average for finishing is not a great solution. Humorously I imagine a world where your success and status were determined by the number of credible unfinished projects on your list. Imagine the checklist of qualifiers for a project that is unfinished. Did you actually start it or is this just an idea? Did you spend more than 120 hours working on this project? Did you willingly spend family money on the idea? Is it really unfinished or are you just trying to score points? The list would, in and of itself, create an opportunity to unfinish.
Another approach might be a 12-step program. “Hello, my name is Doc and I’m an unfinisher” and the group will say “Hi Doc.” The first step would be to admit you are powerless against unfinishing. Of course, there are a couple issues with this approach. First, Unfinishers Anonymous would be called UA which might cause some issues or endless, but fun, jesting. Second, and probably more poignant, most would never finish the 12 steps.
So what to do about the unfinisher? I have a couple suggestions that you might put in your creation tool belt to push you further down the path of completion. It’s a three-step program so you have a better chance of finishing this one.
- Recognize that you are an unfinisher and embrace the concept of getting better.
- Acknowledge that you are driven by pursuit.
- Set GO or NO GO micro goals on your ideas/projects.
Steps one and two are foundational and without shame. Most counselors and psychologists will tell you that admission and acceptance of an issue is the key that unlocks the conqueror. Admitting that you have an unfinishing problem and embracing the concept of getting better is truly your halfway point to a better and healthier life.
Acknowledging that you are driven by pursuit in your projects is a simple yet important distinction. Remember these suggested steps are for you only if you have a habit of unfinishing (see step one). This is not for the person that is assigned projects and just simply does not finish. That’s a different motivation or better said; demotivation.
If you are in the mode of creating projects on your own and seemingly never finish, these steps are for you. I can actually hear you telling yourself how great it will be when you finish projects X, Y, or Z because life will be great or maybe you’ll get rich. In reality, you will only enjoy that moment for an instant and then go right back to creating projects A, B, and C. You must realize that your end motivation is not completing the project for some kind of glory. Your motivation is the pursuit. Once you acknowledge this in yourself, you will then have the firm foundation to turn your unfinishingness into a great strength for you and others.
Step three can only exist after step one and two are fulfilled. Attempting to execute step three without the foundation will only create more branches of unfinished projects and muddle your mind into a mess of monumental proportion. Don’t do it! Recognizing your habit of unfinishing and acknowledging you’re driven by pursuit is the only way step three will order your world and create contentment in your behavior. Not only that, you will actually finish more projects in the long run.
Because pursuit is the driving force, setting micro goals that determine whether or not to continue is a process that enhances your success. If you don’t hit the micro goal, you rest or quit the project. If you succeed in hitting the micro goal then you continue the project. You gain three very basic things that will create success for you. First, pursuit is not diminished but enhanced because it becomes more intense. Second, the perspective shift of reaching multiple goals erases the unfinishing self-consciousness. Third, by setting up projects with make or break milestones, more time will naturally be dedicated to projects that are worthy of completion because less time will be spent thinking about those that are not worthy.
In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.
I pray you find something in this writing that helps you move to a higher level of ideation. In fact, this whole discussion gives me an idea about an app…
I’ll finish this later.