A Good Follow-Through

I’m a better started than a finisher.

It seems like I have a dozen projects around the house that I have started but have not completed.  This is a small source of stress.  I have little reminders all around that there is more work to do.  My garage is evidence of numerous well-intended projects that are in various states of completion.  Fortunately, none of these projects are of “Life or Death” significance (unless you call installing brackets to hang your bicycle upon a matter of “Life or Death” significance).

I realize that I need to be better at following-through.

Good follow-through makes all the difference.

Follow-Through brings vision into reality.

Here are some of the common hindrances to following-through well.

Losing Sight

As silly as it may seem, we tend to forget our goals.  Sometimes we start a project only to become immediately distracted by other problems.  The more distractions we suffer, the more likely we are to lose sight of the task at hand.  Problems lead to procrastination and procrastination leads to forgetfulness.  You are all too familiar with the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind.” When we lose sight of where we are going with our tasks and projects we lose our ability to finish them properly.

The Remedy

Keep the end in mind.  This requires intentional focus.  We need to discipline ourselves to keep the distractions to a minimum.  We don’t always have to have the phone connected to our belt.  Sometimes we need to let our trusty voicemail take the memo for us so we can stay on task.  It’s not just the voice calls.  There was a time that I had my phone set to chime every time I received a text message or an email, and even a Facebook message.  That lasted about 2 days.  My phone was going off constantly.  I was so busy responding to messages that I got nothing done.

There are plenty of other ways we can become distracted than what our smart phones can provide.  The key to overcoming losing our vision for any particular project is to keep the end always in the forefront of our mind.

Losing Resolve

Losing the resolve to finish a project erodes our ability to follow-through.  Most of the projects that I have abandoned at home have been neglected because I’ve not found the resolve to get them done.  Usually I have nights and weekends to work on these home projects.  By the time I get home in the evening, I have already spent all of my resolve completing projects at work.  By the time the weekend rolls around I’m too pooped to apply myself to another task.  Mental resolve and physical energy are very closely related.

The Remedy

Recommit along the way.  Here’s what recommitment looks like for me: Tackling bite sized chunks.  Each small step toward progress is a renewal of my original intention to complete a task.  Each little accomplishment feeds and increases my resolve.  Test this out on some of your unfinished projects as see if doing a little along the way doesn’t increase your resolve to go all the way!

Losing Joy

I find a lot of satisfaction from starting a project.  Somewhere at midpoint though, just about all projects become a drag.  Not only is there no resolve to get them done, there is no joy found from the work.  I tend to look for other things that need to be started rather than finishing what is already halfway complete.

The Remedy

Celebrate the finish.  I learned to do this when I was finishing up my doctoral studies.  There was one point where I found myself having about 20 papers started, but none completed, and with deadlines approaching.  The completion of each paper represented a major finish line for me to cross.  I decided that as I finished 5 papers I would take the family out for steak (it’s always good to have people to celebrate with).  The joy of crossing the finish line made the work that much more enjoyable.

Which hindrance to following-through keeps you from completing projects?

What remedies have you found helpful in your own follow-through?

Luke 14:28-30
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