Why can it be so challenging to finish something? It seems much easier to start something rather than finish it.
At a certain point in every project, task or dream, it becomes difficult to progress. The initial excitement and motivation dissipates, and the propulsion of momentum subsides. Then the project is halted, the writer’s block sets in and procrastination emerges, leaving the individual unsure how they should proceed.
This can happen in every facet of life, from school to household chores — it even affects those dreams of starting a business or traveling the world. The dream is there, and steps might be taken to start the journey of achieving it, but seeing it through to the end is an immensely daunting task.
The brain has a significant need to finish what it starts, and people regret things they didn’t do more than things they did, according to researchers Ian A. James and Katherine Kendell from Cambridge University. The reason people feel so unsettled with cliffhangers from TV shows and movies is because their brain needs the complete story.
The biggest obstacle to finishing something is the individual. Lack of vision, fear of what people think, self-doubt and apathy are all factors that can play a part.
To finish things, people need deadlines, which have become dreaded, intimidating dates and times for many people. Maybe they should be called “lifelines” instead, because they offer a means of freedom or escape once completed, and they really shouldn’t be feared. Yet they seem to constrict and confine people, causing stress and unnecessary pressure. Deadlines by themselves aren’t always beneficial, but in the absence of deadlines there is no urgency to do anything, so nothing will likely be done.
Successful deadlines are mutually dependent on schedules. Deadlines provide limitations which allow things to be accomplished within a reasonable amount of time — they push and propel people to take action in order to achieve their goals. Schedules are the daily game plan, designed to establish good habits which are needed in order to actually achieve the goal. Schedules are the real-time, real-life commitments and actions taken to accomplish something by a deadline. Scheduling allows people to focus on the action of doing rather than the end result, which is much more attainable and it provides the groundwork for consistency and practice — two things that are key to productively and successfully achieving a goal.
Maybe it’s time to determine which goals are most important and set aside the ones that aren’t. It would be nice to accomplish everything, but sometimes the vast number of unfinished things people have in their lives prevents anything from getting done. If there is a fewer number of things to begin with, it’s much more manageable for someone to see things through to the end.
Everyone has the ability to finish what they start — they just need to allow themselves to do it. By finding vision, confidence and passion, by developing beneficial productive habits and by not caring what others think, people can find the freedom of completion in their lives.
Some things aren’t meant to be finished, but it’s better to finish than to start. Anyone can start something, not everyone can complete it.
Andrew Brand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @theandrewbrand