People love to start things but they fail to finish well. I know because I have the same problem. I start a lot of things and I don’t finish them.
But I want that to change so I’ve been blogging lately about finishing what you start — which combines some thinking as well as my own journey to overcome this problem.
When we think of a project (whatever that project may be), it’s not just one project filled with the same activities. Rather, there is usually a starting sequence and a finishing sequence.
The starting sequence is creative and there is a lot of up-front effort to build something. The finishing sequence is a different skill-set entirely. Many people (me included) start stuff a lot and therefore become fairly good at the starting sequence. But we fail to finish because the finishing sequence is hard and full of different activities that we aren’t as used to (because we don’t practice them enough).
This led me to wonder if there’s another problem as well: Do we struggle during the “hand-off”?
Think of a relay race. There’s the runner at the start of the relay race who leaps off of the starting line and sprints around the track. Part way along the track they meet the next person who grabs the baton and continues (or perhaps finishes) the race. That next person has a different skill set because they need to start at a pace that matches the first runner and then (hopefully) pick up speed toward the finish line to outpace the competitors.
The race is not just won or lost based on the speed of the runners but also in how well the baton is passed off. A good hand-off can help to keep the runners on pace. A bad hand-off can cause the team to lose the race.
In a project, when your starting skills give way to your finishing skills, a good hand-off is needed. It’s not a simple case of continuing what you were doing when you started. Rather, it’s about transitioning from your starting skills to your finishing skills.
HOW TO TRANSITION FROM STARTING TO FINISHING
Starting skills like brainstorming, “big picture” building, creating, envisioning, and “ideation” must give way to persistence, consistency, detail-oriented building, editing, reviewing, and trouble-shooting.
How do you make that hand-off? How do you do it well?
Here are some ideas that I’m going to put into practice to help me:
- Scheduling right from the start will help — but with a recognition of the two sets of skills required. In other words, assume that you will need to hand-off at some point and plan those finishing-stage skills earlier.
- Don’t think of each part of the project as binary. Don’t think of the start as being creative and the finish as being uncreative. (I’m VERY guilty of this). The finish requires creativity, it just requires it to be applied in a different way — around problem-solving instead of envisioning.
- Build your starting habits around your finishing habits. Rather than waiting until you are finishing mode to be consistent and persistent, incorporate those habits at the beginning.
- Learn to love the finish. I keep coming back to this idea. If you want to finish well, you need to learn to love it; to look forward to it; to become addicted to the finish.
- Keep your big goal always front and center. This is another huge reason why I start but don’t finish. I set my goals around starting something instead of around the end-result that I’ll see after I finish something.
- There’s one more that I’m adding here just before I publish this post. It’s one that I’m not even sure I can articulate adequately yet but I think it’s an important one: Prepare for adversity and when it comes in the middle of the project, learn to rise to the occasion rather than to fold and run off to start something else.
This is what I’m going to work on this week.
Are there other aspects of the start-to-finish “hand-off” that I should be incorporating? I’m curious what you think.