Tips On Finishing What You Start

Dec 11, 2019

Finishing what you start is not always simple. I get this question all the time: “How do I know when I’m finished?” 

We yearn to know with clarity when we’ve crossed the finish line; to know we have done our best and that we can rest.

But finishing what you start rarely feels like that. Because finishing is often arbitrary.

My book is done. It’s copyedited and being designed. Yet the other day, in a coaching conversation with a writer, I realized I could add a whole new chapter about timing. Oh no, I should rush to add a chapter, I thought.

But then I shrugged because I can’t add anything to the book without messing up our tight timeline and I know that finishing is mostly a made-up idea. It’s a way we agree to say something is “good enough” so we can move on to what’s next.

You get to decide: what does finished look like for you? What will satisfy you? Is it about how you show up? Is it about upping the level of support you ask for? Is it about lowering the bar so your perfectionism doesn’t take over? Is it about going past where you usually give up?

If you don’t decide what finished means how will you ever know if you are finishing what you start? (If a tree falls in the forest…)

“But Jen, I have a client (or a boss or a dissertation committee, etc.) and they decide what finished is.”

I disagree. Yes, your client, or whoever, has requests and standards that you may agree to or have to meet to get paid or get the initials after your name, but you still get to decide how meeting those standards will satisfy you.

(If you want help with deciding will satisfy you, check out my Power & Love Power Pack.)

Another BIG factor in finishing what you start is asking for help. I see people go months or years utterly convinced nobody can help them. They paint themselves into the tightest loneliness corner. But when they get clear on what kind of help they need, everything changes.

Make a list of all the things you need help with to finish whatever you want to finish. Nothing is too small or too big. Then ask one person or source for help with EACH item on your list. Refuse to believe that there is no help for you, that you’re the exception to the rule. You aren’t that special.

You also need support to finish. Finishing can bring up all kinds of fears: fears of being seen, being judged, fears that you won’t live up to your “potential” (can we just throw that word out once and for all?! – so meaningless), fears of what’s next, fears of what your family or friends will say (I’m having all these about my new book, believe me!).

Write down your fears. Get them into the light and give them a hug. Fear is a sign that you care and are stretching, not a sign you should quit. Sweeten your self-talk, get more sleep, give yourself more pleasure, up your exercise (running feeds my courage), and let yourself be vulnerable with a few trusted people. Just saying, “I am afraid of finishing because I’m afraid everyone I know is going to hate me” can help dissipate your fear and worry. Fear loves the dark; bring it into the light. Get support to finish.

(The Power & Love bundle includes a three-part video series on Hidden Fears, re-recorded and added to based on a class I offered last September. It’ll help you finish if fear is sneaking in.)

NOTHING can replace what you learn or how your self-image and confidence change when you finish something you care about. You will learn how strong and smart and amazing you are.

Pro trick: Dispel “finishing amnesia.” You have done this before and you will again. Recall projects you have finished and notice if there is anything you learned you can lean on or implement now.

Finally, do a quick project plan. Yu know what finished looks like for you, work backward to make a plan to get there. What has to happen the day before you finish? The week before? The week before that? You won’t follow this plan perfectly because (surprise!) you are not a robot and your life never goes according to plan Build in wiggle room! Time for the kids to get sick, for you to visit with an out-of-town friend, to weather your monthly migraine, or whatever life may bring.

And if this means changing what finished looks like for you (changing the scale of the project, changing the completion date, changing the scale of your launch), now is the time.

Finishing what you start is liberating. It frees up so much energy and attention.

It teaches you how powerful and creative you truly are.

It opens space for new projects and ideas, for more goodness.

It brings new connections and abundance and pleasure.

Name what finishing is for you, get the help and support you need, make a quick project plan, and let yourself become the person who finishes. I’m celebrating with you already.

Jettison Self-Doubt and Lose the Itty-Bitty-Shitty Committee and Make Your Thing Now

From the national best-selling author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and Why Bother.

Made for writers, artists, mail art makers, knitters of sock puppets, creative entrepreneurs, photographers, Tarot readers, and anybody who needs to make stuff they love.

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