June 17

Many Start, Few Finish. How to Finish

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Many Start, Few Finish. How to Finish

By Deborah Johnson

June 17, 2022

Goal setting, Goals, podcast, project completion, time management, unstuck

How to Finish

To answer the question how to finish, you need to first ask yourself the question how did you start? Did you start with the intention of finishing? I think most people would answer yes! But really, did you? Life gets in the way. Shifts in priorities, time restraints, health issues and even lack of interest.

If you look around your home, you may discover some undone projects. We’ve got a fountain we never finished cleaning and it’s been on the list to finish it so we once again can enjoy the flowing water and ambiance of the fountain. But it hasn’t been pushed up on the priority list of projects.

I hope to share a few easy tips that will not only help you but help me finish cleaning our fountain. I plan to have it completely done by the time this article is released! The four principles shared here are simple, but I know for a fact that many people struggle with the motivation to finish projects, especially if they aren’t specifically tied to their employment or a hard deadline.

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Women at Halftime by Deborah Johnson Many Start, Few Finish. How to Finish 6-21-22
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One: Create a Plan with a Timeline

One of the most effective methods of goal-setting is to start with the end in mind. (See Goal Setting Worksheets) It is how I put music shows and even speeches together. I booked a theatre or engagement and that provided enough pressure to get the show or speech completed and rehearsed.

With a specific goal, you can create small steps to get where you want to be. Notice I said small steps. Small steps for a project are similar to small steps to create a new habit. (See Tiny Habits)  Small increments aren’t nearly as overwhelming as biting off a huge project all at once. I’ll use creating a workout schedule as an example.

To start, your plan can include getting up twenty minutes earlier. Then take a short walk in your neighborhood. That’s it at first. Your larger plan can be to lose ten or more pounds or exercise forty-five minutes five days a week but creating small steps to get there will help you be successful. The same principle will apply toward any project. Taking the time to create a doable plan will pay off. At a certain point in our life, we get to the point where we just jump in and do a project, but many times find ourselves burnt out when we find the task will take more energy or work than planned. This has especially been true for every music album I’ve produced. I’ve created a step-by-step plan with a determined end timeline, then revised the plan as needed.

Two: Identify the Roadblocks

At the start of a project, you may not know what roadblocks will hinder progress. But this will be a necessary step when determining how to finish. For our fountain, our main roadblock has been to remove lime deposit from the tile. It’s been tougher to remove than cement and even using a drill with harsh chemicals on a brush attachment has not worked.

This is a definite roadblock and we feel we have to not only figure out a way to resolve this issue but put in measures to prevent the lime buildup going forward. Sometimes a roadblock can completely paralyze us from moving forward. Mentally, it may help to get away from the project and brainstorm options.

Business decisions also have roadblocks. There are issues that can’t or at least shouldn’t be decided without additional thought and calculation. This is the time determine the help you need, even if you’ve come upon roadblocks mid-project. For our fountain? We are looking for a company that will safely remove the lime deposits as we’ve exhausted our abilities and expertise.

Three: Schedule Time in Your Calendar

How many times have you said I’ll get to that someday! Probably more often than you realize. Someday is illusive and may never come. Just as exercise should be a regular event in your calendar, so should steps in finishing a project.

If you block in time for a project, there is a greater chance that you’ll get to it. Otherwise it will just keep getting pushed aside. It may be helpful to treat your project like an appointment and if you have to cancel, reschedule! FREE Download: Goal Setting Worksheets

Goals Gameboard-Deborah Johnson

Something that helped with album projects was booking in studio time. That gave me a timeline to get charts ready and notes for tweaks needed. For shows, it was booking in rehearsals and performances. For speeches, the same. The principle is the same for most any project. Create a timeline, then book it in your calendar.

Four: Do the Work

When writing books, I called writing time seat discipline. I got this term from my husband Greg when he was speaking every week on a different topic. His daily and weekly preparation took that type of discipline, sitting and doing the work.

Sometimes it hard to get to the work as you’re not motivated. What I find is using something like a simple timer works. I’m a strong believer in the power of timers as it gives you a start and stop. And you can always reset the timer for more time when needed. It will help you stay on task and you can create a game-like environment for yourself as you do the work within the time allotted. I wrote about the ten-minute timer principle in Stuck is Not a Four Letter Word. (pg. 192)

Make sure that you give yourself breaks. It will keep you mentally sharp and you’ll get more done if you get away from your project for even a short time.

Take Breaks and Create a Reward

Make sure that you give yourself regular breaks. It will keep you mentally sharp and you’ll get more done if you get away from your project for even a short time. Many studies confirm the importance of taking screen breaks, especially when sitting at a computer.

Creating a reward for yourself is a bonus principle and really works well for some projects. If your project is to lose weight, a new outfit is a treat to look forward to. A reward doesn’t have to be costly but can provide a break in the mundane. All of this goes back to creating a plan. With a good plan and the anticipation of a reward, you can increase the number of projects you see to completion. I’m rooting for you!


One of the most effective methods of goal-setting is to start with the end in mind.

deborah johnson

Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author

If you are interested in growing and learning, check out our online courses here: Online Learning

1,113 words

Deborah Johnson

About the author

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain® and former president of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. Deborah provides tools to create your ideal lifestyle and work during the halftime of life, getting unstuck. You can live your second half fulfilled, focused and free! Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of four books and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.

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