The Secret to Finishing Projects
There’s actually no big secret as to the ability to finish projects. Though size, budget, interest and organization are usually factors that contribute to the process. However, there are other components that may be involved as well.
It’s interesting that the La Sagrada Familia*, Antoni Gaudi’s monumental Catholic Church in Barcelona, has been a work in progress since 1882. Changing the design, world events and even unexpected destruction can interrupt even the best-laid plans, such as what happened with Gaudi’s work. Your plans won’t be as grand as an ornate church in Spain, but it may feel like you don’t have the time or energy to really complete many of your ideas.
To finish projects takes a good plan, discipline and commitment to follow through all the way to the end. I call this process pushing a project out the door. (see article: Life Goals) It’s not over until it’s completely done. If you have projects that are still undone that you’d like to finish, you may need to carve out time to focus on doing so.
Here we will cover how to turn unfinished projects to finished projects with a strong purpose, workable plan, consistency, getting help and finally, deciding that it’s done.
Establish a Strong Purpose
If you don’t know why you are doing a particular project, that may be one of the reasons why you can’t finish it. Even if working on a hobby, such as knitting a sweater, building a shed or planting a garden you usually have a purpose for the completion of that project.
Creating new software to help others save time, a new hand tool for the construction industry or even a creative music album to license or promote your shows are all purpose-driven projects. Keeping that purpose as your central focus will help you continue on the days you feel like quitting. I’ve definitely had days like that! (See: Licensing Musicals)
Create a Workable Plan
Note the word used here is workable. On one of my spring breaks in college, I had high aspirations of learning the violin. The first mistake was that my purpose wasn’t strong enough. The second, this was not a workable plan. Two weeks is not nearly long enough to learn the violin. At this point, my sister, a wonderful violinist, had been studying for over fifteen years.
That example is not as ridiculous as it sounds. Many don’t put a realistic timetable and plan together at the beginning of a project. Look at your actual project first and make sure it’s something that still creates a strong desire and purpose for you. It doesn’t need to be a world-changing venture. Then put your plan and timeline together. Your plan may not be pretty, but it needs to work for you. I’m big on creating lists and very visual so I create a simple plan, layout and system that will work for me. In fact, I feel most every project should have its own system so it can be automated in the future. (see: Technology Tools)
There are many online programs that help people stay on task, especially when working with teams. Programs such as Asana, Basecamp, Trello and many others. Many of those types of programs have the ability to keep teams organized so they may sound like an overkill for some smaller projects. But then I’ve also known those who kept their plan and communication very organized with a group of volunteers for a new book launch through Basecamp. Find out what will work for you and what will help you achieve your goals.
It’s also important to put an end date on your project. Working with the end in mind works. If you spend years on a project that should have been done in months, your timeline is off. Be specific and do the work upfront to establish clear expectations.
Setting aside a regular time to work will help you finish projects and get you where you want to be if you stick to it. Distractions are the danger. (see: Going Down the Rabbit Hole) An unhealthy mindset, with head trash (get: Head Trash free course) can also take you away from doing your best work. We all face it, no matter what field or level.
Deciding what not to do is just as important as what to do. I have actually applied this principle when we had the year of shutdowns in limiting my online meetings. By doing so, I carved out time to finish some large musical scores, like Tsarina and Stiltz to set up independent publishing and even write a new book and keynote speech. I would have never achieved my goals without doing so.
Get the Help You Need
I feel many people wait too long to ask and get the help they need. Time is your most valuable resource and wasting it not only wastes time, but energy and resources. Quality help and guidance can get you where you want to go.
A different perspective, or elevated point of view can provide clarity, focus and eventually, success. I do urge you to get the right type of help. Even so called experts may not be good at holding you accountable and communicating priorities of a project.
Is it Really Done?
Perfectionism is the enemy of completed projects. Good enough and done is better than perfect and not done. A recent example of this was from a neighbor who has been a piano instructor for a number of years. Two of her students entering a competition were disqualified because they missed the deadline.
The whole reason they missed it was they kept endlessly recording their piece until they thought it was perfect. By the time they got to that point, they were disqualified, which was a shame for these talented students. Don’t let this happen to you.
Do Your Best and Leave It
This principle is especially hard for an artist. I don’t often listen and view my work after it’s done. In fact, at a friend’s home over the holidays there was a recording playing and I thought was very well done, not recognizing it was me. This may sound strange, but I know there are others who are in the same camp.
The late Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning Actress Cicely Tyson did not watch her appearances, such as playing Rebecca in the Academy Award Nominee Sounder until years after it was released. She knew she had done the best she could, delivering an award-winning performance. She didn’t even break character when on breaks.
Establish your purpose, put together a workable plan, be consistent, get help then finish, sending it out to the world. By actually finishing, your mind will be much clearer and you will now be able to fully dive into marketing, which is for another day and article!
'Good enough' and done is better than 'perfect' and not done.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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