A question to help with finishing what you’ve started

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.

Inner Creative Blog - A question to help with finishing what you've started
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.

Quote “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Friedrich Nietzsche featured in Inner Creative blog - A question to help with finishing what you've started

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!

 

Increase your productivity with this surprising method – Forgiveness

Previously, I’ve talked about the power of starting again, no matter where you are in the timeline of your project or goal. It’s a very simple idea. Show up and start by taking the first step whatever that may be.

 

That’s all very well when you’re feeling enthusiastic and pumped. But what about if you’re feeling unmotivated, overwhelmed or procrastinating big time? You might intellectually know that you need to start doing something, but you really don’t feel like it.

Inner Creative Blog Increase your productivity with this surprising method

I get what this feels like. I’m an enthusiastic starter. But sometimes mid-way through or towards the end of a project it can get tough.
Sometimes I can get ahead of myself and begin to freak out about what I need to do after this stage or project is finished, start questioning what I’m making, or wondering if I’m on the right track. And it doesn’t reflect how much you love what you do overall or how important the project is for you.

 

Projects can also get hard because:
  • it’s been a long haul and you’ve spent a lot of time on it,
  • the end point still feels so far away,
  • you’ve used up a lot of your physical or emotional energy,
  • you’re not in tip top shape, or
  • the planets have not aligned/you woke up grumpy/you’re having a bad day/whatever :-).
It doesn’t matter. Whatever the reason, you don’t feel like working on your project but you really need to get on with it.

So what can you do? 

Two things-
  1. Get calm

    This may mean:

    – taking a few deep breaths,

    – going for a walk,

    – doing a body scan,

    – getting quiet to notice what sounds you can hear around you, or

    – doing a re-alignment exercise, like reminding yourself of your ‘why’ or tapping into your intuition (that’s when I use my Get Unstuck worksheet).

    You don’t need to get all zen ‘Buddha on a mountaintop’. Just give yourself an inch of head space.

  2. Do the ‘F’ word – that’s forgiveness.

    You may wonder what forgiveness has to do with productivity or working on your project. Plenty.

    When we’re feeling overwhelmed or procrastinating in any way, we can get critical and start attacking ourselves. 

Does this happen to you?

We’re not feeling great or are stressed out about the project. So we procrastinate and waste time. Then we feel bad for not working on our project, which puts another layer of stress or ill feeling on top of our project and how we feel about ourselves. This then makes us feel even worse and means we’re more likely to delay working on the project even further. And the cycle goes on and on.

 

It doesn’t need to be about a particular project either. Recently, a friend shared a story about her good friend who wanted to move forward in her life, but kept getting dragged back by her regrets. She couldn’t, and wouldn’t let herself, start again.

 

The only way to break this cycle is through forgiveness.

Forgiveness quote Desmond Tutu featured in Inner Creative blog -Increase your productivity with this surprising method - Forgiveness
We may have regrets. We may have some ‘shoulda’s’ (‘I should have done this’) or ‘if only’s’ (‘If only I’d done that instead’) whirling around in our heads. But we are where we are. We can’t take back the time. We only have today and this moment. The main thing is to get moving again and clear whatever it is that’s blocking us from getting started.

 

So when you’re feeling overwhelmed or having a bout of procrastination, take a moment to forgive yourself.

You can write it down, or just say it to yourself (aloud or silently in your head). If you want to, you can also make a confession of sorts first. (What do you feel bad about? What have or haven’t you been doing?)

 

You can be explicit or as general as you like in your forgiveness – “I forgive myself for procrastinating”, “I forgive myself for wasting time yesterday watching TV”, “I forgive myself for beating myself up over this project”, “I forgive myself for calling myself a failure”. You get the idea.

 

I like to use the Hoʻoponopono (pronounced ho-o-pono-pono) prayer or mantra as explained by Joe Vitale and Ihaleakala Hew Len in their book Zero Limits. It’s based on a Hawaiian practice of forgiveness and reconciliation. It involves taking responsibility for our actions and what is appearing in our life. Healing is found through repeating the mantra
“I love you.
I’m sorry.
Please forgive me.
Thank you.” 
A lot 🙂

 

For self-forgiveness, the idea is that we say this to ourselves. I find that repeating this mantra helps to calm me down at the same time.

 

Inner Creative Higher Heart Mandala Detail from 2018 Mandala Inspiration Calendar
As an aside, I repeated the Hoʻoponopono mantra as I drew the Higher Heart mandala for the new 2018 Mandala Inspiration calendar (a detail is pictured here). Head over to the shop for more information. 

 

 

Once you feel calm and at peace, let go of the past and any regret, and move forward.

 

And most importantly, start back on your project. Make sure you do something.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave