Starting and finishing

Sometimes one is much easier than the other.

There is always always excitement in the beginning, in that process of bringing an idea to life.

But then as things start to develop your interest wanes and finishing becomes an uphill battle. There is none of that ease and excitement that you had in the beginning, not even the thought of the final result is enough to spur you on.

And so, maybe you just decide to put the thing to the side or you finish it up to a bare minimum standard just to get it out the way.

But, what if things could be different. I think it’s unlikely that you’re motivation and vigour to begin can follow you through right to the end. However, what if you could learn to become a little more committed to the things you start, that you don’t have to rely on being excited in order to finish.

A great reason to exercise

Many people find it difficult to commit to exercising. One of the reasons for this is being focused on wanting to look a particular way which may not happen for 6 months.

If you show up for each session with your end goal in mind, you might find yourself getting frustrated or impatient because you know you still have a long way to go.

On the other hand, you could instead focus on the endorphins, the way exercising makes you feel. If every time you feel a little resistance to begin a workout you remind yourself of how good you’ll feel once it’s done, that might be all the motivation you need.

Knowing when to quit

Sometimes we back down from situations because upon reflection we can clearly see that the reason we pushed on with vigor and enthusiasm is simple because you felt as though you’d gone too far to turn back.

Or perhaps, you just didn’t want to accept that you were wrong.

But other times we back down because we’re not willing to commit to the cause and take things all the way. It might be a situation that you know will be difficult to overcome but your fear has made you believe that it it’s not worth it.

As much as it’s important to know when to quit, it’s important to know when to keep going.

Commitment to the writing practise

My favourite thing about this blog is that I’m driven by my commitment to writing more than anything else.

If I write something that gets 1 view, I’m just glad that I committed to writing something another day.

If I write something that gets 102 views, I’m glad that a bigger number of people got to read my words. That is a bonus on top of me committing to sharing something for another day.

When I started this daily writing practice it was not only because I wanted to challenge myself and wholeheartedly commit to something new.

I’m committed to doing the work as a priority, anything that comes along with it is secondary. That mindset makes posting daily 101 times easier because I’m not focused on getting my numbers up or having the most likes, comments or views.

Out of office

It’s getting to that time of year when the Out of office goes on with an automatic reply that goes something like:

‘ Hi, I am currently on leave until 4th January and will respond upon my return. If urgent please contact name@company.com in my absence.’

However, for daily blogging there is no break or time off unless posts are pre-written in advance.

And sometimes that can be challenging when you want time to plan what direction to take things in the future or just want to take a break.

There is no out of office for daily blogging and once you start you commit to never being able to take time off.

It can feel daunting but it isn’t all bad because there is so much to gain from committing to a writing practice every single day.

Hold yourself to it

When you tell yourself that you will do something, it’s quite easy to just not commit. Afterall, there is nobody else that knows and nobody to hold you to it.

On the other hand if you share your aims or goals with others, you have to be willing to accept being called out of if you don’t follow through with your words.

If you write a daily blog, you don’t have to declare that it’s a daily blog, you can simply hold yourself to it. Make a promise or commitment to yourself that you will publish one post, every single day.

But maybe you think it is better to tell people, maybe you need others to hold you to your words and struggle to do it yourself. I don’t think thats a bad thing and in some cases a group of people that hold each other accountable is a great thing.

However, when it comes to some things, you shouldn’t become reliant on other people reminding you of the commitments you made in order to get things done.

Breaks and streaks

Taking breaks will always be necessary. However, when you commit to doing something every single day, suddenly taking a break becomes a little more difficult.

As much as you can try and make up for it the day before or the day after, it’s not quite the same as maintaining consistency.

Once you’ve stuck with something as a daily habit for a couple of months or even a few weeks, the thought of missing a day and losing that streak isn’t particularly tempting.

And so it becomes easier to not take breaks.

But as great as it is to be consistent and build daily habits, you never want to apply so much pressure that you won’t let yourself take a break even when you feel like you need it.

Procrastination and relying on stress

Anyone who regularly procrastinates will tell you that they want to do the thing but they just keep putting it off. Often when we procrastinate we justify it to ourselves by prioriting things with low urgency that still give us that good feeling of that comes from getting things done.

We tell ourselves we’ll start later or tomorrow and we convince ourselves that that we still have enough time to get it done.

But what tends to happen is we just continue to put things off more and more. We do this until our stress levels start to increase and we reach the point where if we don’t start now we’ll miss the deadline.

And so you finally begin.

I had a recent experience with procrastination and once the work was complete I ended up reflecting on my behaviour.

When you get into the habit of choosing to procrastinate until the last possible moment, you train yourself to rely on stress to get things done. And so the next time you have a deadline you’re unable to find the motivation because you’re waiting for the adrenaline to kick in.

I think there are 2 main ways to stop procrastinating.

The first way is to experience things going wrong as a result of your procrastination. When our habits have negative implications this encourages a change in behaviour. It might start with you giving yourself 5 days for something instead of two and slowly build up until you become someone who always makes sure they have enough time.

The second is to just start straight away next time. We tell ourselves it’s difficult to start and just decide that it’s true when it’s not at all. Starting takes a little effort and commitment but it’s not as challenging as you tell yourself.

It’ll probably help to remind yourself of the benefits of starting straight away like being able to work at a steady pace instead of having to cram everything into a short period of time.

If you’re someone with a habit of procrastinating, it might not seem easy to change but it’s definitely possible.

Slow progress

There’s a popular saying that goes ‘Slow progress is better than no progress’. I totally agree.

What we often do is rush because we want progress to be quick.

Perhaps this is because slow progress doesn’t feel like moving forward in the moment. It’s only, in a few weeks or months time that you’re able to see how far you’ve come.

This idea of choosing to rush instead of embracing slow progress can be applied to many scenarios, one of which is procrastination.

Dedicating a few days to get something done is often much more appealing than spending a few weeks doing something bit by bit.

But often we don’t have a few days spare, just a few moments each week.

And the great thing about slow progress is that it helps build a habit of long term commitment.

On the other hand when you rush you’re relying on adrenaline and cortisol, what your body releases as a response to stress which is great in the short-tun but not something you want to make a habit out of.

Wanting the credit

If you were someone who led or pioneered in a particular sector or topic, how would you feel if you weren’t recognised for it.

Is getting credit more important than the work being noticed or the voices being heard?

For a lot of people they may tirelessly work towards a cause and receive little attention for it but they keep at it because they care. They keep on because it’s something that matters.

Then sometimes that thing becomes popular, the sector grows and may even reach a point of saturation. People in other areas get involved and if they’re already more established or more well known than you, they’ll receive more attention.

They may be praised as heroic for their contribution to those who have only just started to pay attention. But if you’re the one that was in it from the start, that can be a difficult thing to handle.

You might have to admit to yourself that you wanted the credit just as much as you wanted the change.

Once you do that, find a conclusion, something to bring you solace. Perhaps that it is more important to work on something you care about and be truly committed than it is to simply show up when it’s the cool thing to do.