Do you love the thrill of starting something new? But what’s it like for you a week or month later? Over time the enthusiasm can wear off, our motivation starts to wane, and we find ourselves staring at a looming deadline or commitment that seems insurmountable. We reach the tough, messy middle. Then, as one of my lovely readers has commented, “It’s the Finishing that can get lost.”
There are many things we can do to help us cross the finish line. Here is one question that can help us, whether we’re at the start or towards the end of a project, to get us back on track to finishing.
It’s quite simple. Maybe a tad obvious.
What’s your ‘why’?
Why do you want to write that book? Paint every day? Why do you want to go to the gym? Why did you sign up to help with the school fair?
Why did that idea, that sounded so brilliant when you first thought it, feel so exciting?
Was it because you are passionate about a story that needs to be told? You love the quiet mind space you get when you’re totally focused and engaged? You want to get healthy and not feel so lethargic? You get a buzz from being a part of something bigger?
It doesn’t matter how big or small your ‘why’ is. Whether it’s altruistic or totally self-serving.
What matters is that your ‘why’ for that project matters to you.
Sometimes we commit to doing something because that’s what we’ve always done, or more likely, because that’s what others do and hence something we expect that we should also be doing.
Really understanding the ‘why’ of a project helps us see where it aligns to our bigger ‘why’ and values.
Understanding your project’s or commitment’s ‘why’ is useful in a few ways:
Knowing why you want to work on a project, can act as a motivator or a touchstone to remind you of the importance of what you’re doing and to keep going even if it’s tough right now.
Charles Duhigg kept his ‘why’ top of mind when he was working on “Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productivity in Life and Business
” by writing why it was important to get a task done on the top of each of his manuscripts. Similarly, you could write the ‘why’ on top of work reports, your project notebook, or even next to each task on your ‘to do’ list. You could write your ‘why’ on a sticky note that you attach onto your computer, a label on your gym bag, or paint it onto a rock that sits on your desk. Put your ‘why’ anywhere that will remind you of what working on your project means to you.
If we ask ‘Why?’ at the start of a project, we may never even commit to starting something in the first place.
We then have more room on our plate to finish things that are more meaningful. For instance, when you’re asked to collaborate on a project see how it aligns with your work or business goals. On the surface it may fit within your job description or field of expertise, but by saying yes it may take you away from focusing on your current book project or product launch.
If you can’t work out why you’re doing a project or the ‘why’ doesn’t align with what you want, then modify what you’re doing, or let it go.
For instance, you may spend a lot of time on Twitter wanting to build a strong connection with your audience. But on closer inspection, your target market prefers to use another social media platform. Stop using Twitter and move your business posting efforts to where your real audience is (if you still love tweeting, then keep it just for personal use 🙂 ).
Sometimes we need to do a task or project that we’re not exactly thrilled about (we may have already said ‘yes’ and can’t back out, or it’s a job requirement). Find something about this unpleasant task that resonates with your personal ‘why’ or connect it to a bigger more meaningful goal. For example, we may not want to spend time on book-keeping, but it makes tax time easier and helps us see cost saving opportunities that mean we can invest in learning a new skill.
Sticking with a project to finish it can be tough. But if we remember to ask the question ‘Why?’ and connect it to something bigger than the task facing us that day, we’re more likely stay motivated and see it out to the end.
If you want help sticking to a project that you’ve been procrastinating on, then sign up to the Inner Creative mailing list to join the upcoming free Procrastination Buster Challenge. You’ll receive a free workbook to help pick the right project, plus 15 daily inspirational emails to keep you accountable and motivated until you reach your goal. Join us! It’ll be fun. Imagine that sense of relief and satisfaction once you cross the finish line and get your project done!