I’m talking about how easy it is to start things and how much harder it can be to finish them.
So if we’re going to talk about finishing what we start, I think we need to put down some definitions. What do I mean when I talk about finishing? What is a good finish?
A finished project is one that starts with an end in mind (I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming blog post) and ultimately draws to a conclusion within a certain time period.
But a finish doesn’t have to be a SUCCESSFUL finish.
Ideally, you start a project and you finish it well, achieving or exceeding the goals you wanted to achieve when you started. But you can still finish a project that does not meet the goals you started out with.
A finish doesn’t necessarily mean a successful finish. Rather, “finishing” measures effort and intentionality and ultimately a specific end.
So if you have a project that you start but part way through you discover that it is not working out the way you hoped, you can still finish — you just need to adjust the course. Obviously you prefer a successful finish but an unsuccessful finish can be an acceptable finish because, in both cases, you choose to conclude the project. So a finish, as I define it, is the intentional conclusion of a project.
My focus on finishing for the next quarter is to achieve one of these good finishes instead of the alternative…
THE FIZZLE (“NON-FINISHES”)
This is when you start a project but then you lose interest or your attention or resources are diverted elsewhere. This can happen for a variety of reasons but the end is ultimately the same: The project just fades from memory and enters a kind of holding pattern. A non-finish, therefore, is when a project just fizzles out without your intentional conclusion the project.
A lot of my projects do this. They get back-burnered or side-tracked or placed into a holding pattern and it might be days or weeks or months (ugh… or even years) until I get back to them. This is ultimately what I want to change — to avoid the fizzle and to bring more projects to a conclusion.
IT GETS TRICKY
Finish and Fizzle are two project states but it gets tricky. Some projects are ongoing projects, so how do you “finish” those? And some projects might seem to have the potential to be an unsuccessful finish but if you just extend the deadline or make some changes, it can become a successful finish, so are you actually “finishing” by doing that?
I have a book that has been started and needs to be finished. It has a very definite finish (measured by publication). And, I have a brand that has been started and needs to be built up so it earns an income. Even though one is a project with a pre-defined end and the other is a project without a pre-defined end, they are both wallowing in neglect and I think they can both be moved forward with skills that are not starting skills but rather finishing skills.
With the defined-ending projects, it’s easier to measure the finish. With an undefined-ending project, perhaps I need to specify a finish for a particular stage of the project. So in the case of the ongoing brand project, perhaps I need to specify my first “finish” as “build the brand so that it earns its first dollar of income”. Then I can start a new project around a new goal to bring that project to the next stage.
I’ll be using these definitions for the rest of my #FinishWhatYouStart blog posts.