Super Habit #36: Finish What You Start

Have you ever started something only to fizzle out and quit? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Most of us have. However, one thing that successful people share is follow-through. If you want to create a successful life, finish what you start.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve started a lot of things that I haven’t finished. In fact, even though it’s a good general rule to finish what we start, there are a few exceptions. Let’s discuss those first.

Sometimes It’s Okay to Not Finish Something

  1. When it’s the wrong thing: Sometimes we start something without thinking it through. If something you’ve started might be harmful to yourself or others, you might want to bail out.
  2. When it’s a creative disaster: As a creative person, I’ve let a lot of work go unfinished. Sometimes I’ll simply crumple the paper or delete the file because I know it’s not right and that I can do better. In those cases, the work is usually a step toward something greater.
  3. When it’s a financial disaster: If you’re working on a business plan only to realize that the project is going to put you up to your ears in debt, you might want to reconsider.
  4. When you’ve lost all interest: We’ve all got excited about something only to discover it doesn’t float our boat in the long run. For me, I’ve discovered that I’m not an architect, a multi-day, long-distance hiker, or a gardener. Although I find those things interesting, they are not things I want to do for the long haul.

When You Should Always Finish What You Start

  1. When you’ve made a commitment: When you make a promise, you should keep that promise. If you’re under contract or expected to complete a project, you should always finish it.
  2. When others are depending on you: If you’ve hired people to help you with a job and then you decide to cancel, you have just let them down. Don’t quit or give up when people are depending on you.
  3. When it will hurt your reputation if you don’t: I’ve written a few books. Each time I make the decision to write a book, I follow through. Once I announce a future book project, I feel it’s my duty to finish. I also know that if I don’t finish, I’ll get a reputation for being a blowhard.
  4. When you’re a true artist: It takes time to master an art. Along the way, you’ll toss a lot of mediocre work in the trash. But a true artist never quits. You keep practicing until you reach a point where you feel your work has a good quality about it. Don’t aim for perfection. Aim for quality.

Finishing Can Be the Hardest Part

I’m sure there are other times and reasons for finishing or not finishing something. But here’s the bottom line. If a project is important to you or your business, finish it. It shows the world that you have commitment and follow-through. That doesn’t mean it will be easy.

Sometimes finishing something is hard. Maybe you bit of a little more than you expected. Or perhaps the project is dragging on and you’re burnt out. Don’t quit. Finish. You’ll be glad you did.

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