Finding the discipline to finish what you started
You know what it's like, first you dive head first into something that *will*be*awesome* and get it started, rolling and moving along, then... it becomes boring and hard. Maybe you second guess your ability to pull it off and then the lure of starting a fresh, new project or passion sucks you in.
I've been having tremendous difficulty with this as I finished my newest book, Distraction Hacker. As usual, I am overflowing with ideas about new projects and it was very tempting to abandon the final touches of my book writing to instead set off starting something from scratch.
This is something that I have been guilty of many times over and that I actually think I became addicted to. Can you relate?
I'm a chronic multi-tasker at the best of times, so I have a hard enough time just focussing on one thing for 5 minutes but now I had to also resist the urge to dive into something new, fresh and exciting. Editing and fleshing out a book that I'd been working on for weeks had lost it's thrill and I was keen to kick start my new writing project for which I have an abundance of ideas!
Thankfully, a few years ago I read The Willpower Instinct written by one of my personal s-heroes, Dr Kelly McGonigal. This book has given me a greater understand about what's behind that urge to jump ship and start something new and it also taught me the amazing benefits of delaying gratification (and no I'm not talking about tantra here!)
So instead of eating the brownie in the car on the way home from the bakery (which would be mindlessly giving into the urge), you instead save the brownie to eat at a time when you can really enjoy it, after dinner when the kids are in bed perhaps. And everything that you do to delay that gratification in the meantime requires willpower.
It's really not that hard.
But I'm a slider with this willpower thing. Sometimes I'm a master and sometimes I'm a complete failture! read: I just eat the damn brownie. Or take this blog post for example. I wrote most of it when I was meant to be writing my book. What was intended to be a quick mind-dump turned into, the whole freaking post!
So it's been a journey of ups and downs getting this book finished but it's been willpower that's brought me here. Here are my top 3 tips to get yourself back on track when you feel yourself giving in to the romance of the next shiny new thing and instead, finish what you started!
1. Surf the urge
Just because you feel an urge to quit what you're doing and start something new, it doesn't mean that you need to give in to it! The urge does not control you! You can let the urge be there and then decide to do something else. With practice, it can become second nature to feel your urge without giving in to it. If you're struggling with strong urges to stray from your task at hand, then you can listen to my urge surfing meditation here for free.
2. Start at the end
Or if you've already started, jump to the finished product now in your mind. Visualise how you want it to look, how you want to feel about it and the impact that you want to make for other people. Sit with it for a few minutes.
Ask yourself "What do I need to do to get myself from where I am now, to that end goal?" and take action toward it immediately.
3. Connect with your values
Ask yourself, what kind of person do I want to be? One that jumps ship and never finishes anything? Or one that follows-through and does what it takes to get shit finished (even when it's hard)? Yeah I thought so. None of us want to be the inconsistent, wishy-washy, unreliable, ship-jumper, so start using that magic question to kick your butt into meaningful action!
Ask yourself this question when you feel yourself slipping away from a project or goal. And instead of getting distracted, remind yourself that you actually want to be consistent, reliable, hard-working etc. Use Urge Surfing to manage any discomfort that comes up and then ask the questions "If I was consistent/motivated etc, what could I do now to get me closer to the finish line?"
What things do you need to commit to and finish?