We all have tasks which we haven’t finished yet. We start little projects, only to find that we procrastinate, get distracted, and lose motivation. What started as a true intention, gets lost in the big mess which is life. Why does this happen, and what can we do about it?
I am going to offer five reasons why we don’t finish things. For each reason, I will offer a potential remedy, if we want to work on our ability to complete tasks.
#1 – LIFE IS BIG AND COMPLICATED
Usually, when we start a task, we haven’t accounted for how much ‘real life’ is likely to impact. We have tried to simplify life, but life won’t be simplified. Those who persist in completing tasks, tend to welcome complications and interruptions as part of the whole exercise. They are not surprised by difficulty and complexity.
#2 – COMPLETING TAKES TIME
Humans are impatient beings. We lose interest towards the end of tasks. We start to cut corners and skip the final stages. Those who get to the end, tend to be better at endings – taking the time to varnish the painting, put away the washing up, celebrate with a speech or a small party. If we want to complete tasks well, then we can learn to pay attention all the way to the last moment.
#3 – COMPLETION TAKES DISCIPLINE
We won’t always want to be doing what we’re doing. In fact, it is highly likely that motivation will regularly desert us. Athletes know this well – a lot of their training is done despite not wanting to train. They get used to the behaviour of doing despite not wanting to. If we want to be completers, then we need to hold to our commitments, even when we don’t feel like it.
#4 – THE TASK TAKES TOO MUCH AWAY FROM THE REST OF OUR LIFE
The dieter realises they are deprived of food. The bride or groom realises they are deprived of freedom. The student realises they are deprived of time. The parent realises they are deprived of their own life. These realisations can make us stop projects half way through. If we want to finish tasks, then we can find ways of allowing ourselves some of what we miss. The dieter makes careful eating enjoyable. The spouse builds free time into the marriage. The student gives themselves good breaks. The parent reignites some personally enjoyable projects.
#5 – WE DON’T FEEL WE DESERVE THE OUTCOME
Sometimes, we can’t imagine ourselves winning the prize, or finishing the book, or clearing the house, or having the successful relationship. Something inside us says ‘not you, you don’t deserve it’. These thoughts can come from deep inside our unconscious, learned from childhood, or built up through loss or trauma. Completers allow themselves to visualise and own the completed task. They include themselves in life.
Just for today, when I work on my projects, I will:
- Expect and welcome complications
- Take the time to complete each task
- Hold to my commitment, even if I don’t feel like it
- Allow myself breaks
- Allow myself a good outcome