It’s Hard to Finish What You Start
If you thought starting is hard (which it is), finishing is harder. Did you ever start a project that lingered a little too long? Or maybe you began a project with loads of excitement only to find your energy or enthusiasm waning after a while. Then you know how it feels to want to finish what you start.
But what if you’re good at starting projects. Overcoming the inertia that comes with starting a new project is no match for your super drive. Oh, and you have a good record: you usually finish what you start. But then there comes a time when you start something that stretches so long that you have a hard time seeing the end. What do you do?
That is where I find myself right now. After I’d done a free tutorial on “drawing with thread” for another blog, I received requests to teach a full course. So, I started working on writing an online course on the topic a few months back.
My Difficulties to Finish What I Began
It’s been a couple of months and I’m not where I wanted to be by this time. I haven’t finished what I started. Some part of me says don’t write about the challenges of how to finish what you start now. Make sure you actually finish what you start before talking about it.
Although that makes sense in some ways, that’s not the reason I started this blog. I write to share the triumphs and trials of being a creative. So other creatives can relate to my journey and be inspired to continue working at becoming their creative best.
Secondly, I believe there’s merit in “practicing in public”. When you let people get behind the scenes so they see how you accomplish your goals, it ultimately helps you finish what you start (which is the goal here). Also, it ensures you give it your very best effort. Just think of it. Why wouldn’t you when everyone is watching?
Let’s take a look at the common culprits for why you can’t finish what you start.
6 Traps Which Make it Difficult to Finish What You Start
- Procrastination: Often, you can’t finish what you start because you keep relegating it to the back of your to-do list.
- Distractions: If you start a project and you easily get distracted by something that seems more interesting or you get ideas to go in a different direction you’ll not finish what you start.
- Inconsistency: This is when you work on your project but not at a consistent pace. You do it as and when you feel like. Here also, you’re going to find it hard to finish what you start.
- Lack of Passion/Enthusiasm: When you’re not very passionate about a project to start with, you can lose your enthusiasm to complete it.
- Reward/Prize: The prize or reward for carrying out your project must be worth the work involved. It’s like an exchange or barter system. When you don’t feel what you’re going to get in exchange for doing the work is valuable, you can’t finish what you start.
- Are We There Yet?: Don’t look at how much more is left to be done instead focus on how much progress you’ve made. Rather than asking, “are we there yet”? Say, “look how far I’ve come”. Then you’ll be able to finish what you started.
3 More Traps Which Make it Difficult to Finish What You Start
- Low Energy: Sometimes, we can get caught up in the moment and start something without thinking it through. Then upon closer examination, we realize we don’t have the energy levels to finish what we start. For example, if you’re used to creating 12” x 12” pieces, you may not have the stamina needed to complete a piece that measures 60” x 60”.
- Perfectionism: Are you the type of person who wants to get everything just right before you move on to the next step in your process? That could make it hard for you to finish what you start. Doing great work is a worthy goal to have. But perfectionism is not achievable. Perfectionism on leads to misery.
- Estimated Time Required: You should have a sense of how much time is typically required to finish your project. When you’re thinking you can complete it sooner than is actually realistic you will find it hard to finish what you start.
I do a lot of DIY jobs at home – paint this room or decorate that space. Over the years, I’ve learned that it always takes longer than what I originally estimated. And that knowledge is helpful because it keeps me grounded. It helps me know what I’m getting into. I don’t have lofty ideas about how fast I can get those DIY projects completed.
So well, to avoid finding it hard to finish what you start, make sure these 9 things above are taken care of. I must admit that when it comes to creating my online class, I’ve got the first 6 items on this list got under control.
It’s so Easy to Get Stuck
I started by creating the course lessons on my computer. But soon enough, I realized I was being distracted by background apps and other stuff on the computer. So, what did I do? I ditched the computer for pen and paper. Also, I started going to the library consistently. So that I don’t get distracted at home.
As for “passion and reward”, I’m pumped to see this project completed. The email software I use has a slogan which says “Teach Everything You Know”. And boy do I agree with that or what?
I now know, after years of blogging, that each of us knows something that someone else will love to learn. So yes, I’m looking forward to teaching people to creatively use thread to make art. And I can’t wait to see my students gain the confidence they need to take their textile art to the next level.
My Personal Failings
So, where do I fall short in the Do-Not-Do list? “Energy”, “Perfectionism” and “Estimated Time Required”. Since I haven’t created the material for an online course before, I had no idea how long I needed to be able to finish once I started.
Looking at the past year where I completed one piece of work every week, it’s not surprising that spending a couple of months on one project is more than a stretch for me.
Secondly, did I say I wanted to teach everything I know? Yes, that’s one of my problems. I want to teach my students everything I know about creatively drawing with thread in this course. I want the course to be so comprehensive, you cannot take my course and not benefit immensely from it. But you know what? That makes for a very long process in creating such a course.
Moreover, perfectionism took over in the beginning. Can you believe I spent about six weeks trying to figure out the logistics? Which learning management software do I need, what recording method will work best, what types of course content should I create (lesson notes, audio, video demos etc.)? And all of this before I even started writing the content.
So yes, I wasted time on perfectionism. In hindsight, I should have started writing first before giving thought to any of that stuff. Thankfully, that’s what I’m doing now. I will finish what I started. And you can do the same by avoiding these 9 traps which make it hard for you to finish what you start.
What are the difficulties you’ve encountered in finishing your projects? Do you identify with any of the ones in his article? What are you going to do about them? Can’t wait to chat with you in the comments.
Get behind the scenes and learn more about my art practice, events, exhibitions and release of new artworks
Also published on Medium.