We face the same dilemma nearly every day: finishing what we start. For me, starting is not the hard part – finishing is.
I battle it throughout the day, nearly everyday. I start project after project, only to have them sit unfinished for a long time. It doesn’t really matter what it is. I find excitement in starting. The newness of a task with unknown challenges always intrigues me.
There is a tension in which I live where I must balance my desire to start something new with my resistance to finishing anything. It is not an easy balance to achieve and I know that for some people it is quite the opposite. Taking that first step and starting something is the hard part.
I see it in my kids too. The tendency to leave a job half done because something better came along is ever-present. Occasionally the dishwasher is left half empty because an invitation for something better came along. For the kids, we have taught them some cute poems to help them see the importance of finishing, we hope.
My daughter memorized this one in first grade:
Work while you work.
Play while you play.
This the way to be happy each day.
Whatever you do, do with your might.
Things done by halves are never done right.
She still says it from time to time and she has taught it to her brothers. My husband has another one. I don’t know who said it originally, I thought it was his grandma. He thinks it is Zig Ziglar. Quotelady.com says it is Anonymous.
When a task is first begun,
I leave it not until its done.
And be a matter great or small,
I do it well or not at all.
While we love our poems, we also try to back them up with a few practical steps as well. Sometimes the project is just too overwhelming to tackle all of it at once. (Cleaning a child’s bedroom, anyone?)
Here are three ideas that might be more helpful than poems:
- Set a timer. Give yourself 15 minutes and do as much as you can in that time. Take a break and come back later for another 15 minute burst.
- Play a song. Do you remember the clean up song? Any upbeat, happy song will do. Establish a pattern with everyone that says “when this song plays, we will do ___.”
- Have a reasonable goal. This is important to keep in mind, especially with younger children. ”You have 15 minutes to clean your entire room” may not be reasonable for some rooms. Break up the task into smaller chunks if necessary.
- Break larger tasks into a series of steps. I feel much more accomplished when I can say, “I finished 3 steps in the process toward ___” instead of having to confess to myself I didn’t finish anything. (Chris, Sometimes Hope.)
- Remember God isn’t finished with us either. (Maxine, Heaven’s Reef)
- Focus. Choose one project per day. (Pamela, I Paint, I Write)
- Never give up! (Dave, my amazing husband)
What other suggestions do you have for finishing a project? Is it harder for you to start or harder to finish?
Leave a comment with a suggestion for how to get stuff done and I’ll add it to the list above.