Are you an ambitious STARTER in life but have a hard time with following through? You start things but quit before you finish.
You get excited to start a new work out plan, a new hobby or maybe finally starting your dream business--only to find yourself two weeks later silently quitting. Now you feel guilty and counting how many times you just failed to finish.
There’s always some “good” reason why you quit or don’t follow-through, right? You got side-tracked with work, you got too busy with more important stuff or you go on vacation and then POOF!.....the ambition and commitment are gone. And pretty soon all of the reasons WHY you started that new thing, fade away.
Let’s be clear serial quitters aren’t the same as procrastinators—now they’re close cousins but not exactly the same.
Serial quitters are full of energy and excitement in the beginning but the only problem is they bounce around so much they seem to have an addiction to “beginnings” but not to “completions”. On the other hand, procrastinators usually have a lack of excitement to begin compared to their close cousins who are bubbling with energy when they’re standing at the starting line. If you're a procrastinator this will probably help you too!!
So what do you do to escape the serial quitter trap?
First you have to understand this title is not WHO you are, it’s just what you DO. Many serial quitters see all these other people achieving, progressing and making things happen while they just keep quitting and think “What’s wrong with me!!!!!”.
They wonder, “Is my “Finish Stuff” mechanism broken?” "Why can't I stay motivated to follow-through?", “Is everyone else just made different than me?”
And the answer is NO!!
It’s all in YOUR approach to your goals and starting new things you want to accomplish. People that follow through have a different perspective and approach to getting things done.
Here are some follow-through habits that can pull you out of the serial quitters trap.
Habit One: Self-Awareness
“Jumping in the deep end is fine….if you know how to swim!”
Before you get all gung ho again about starting something new like going gluten free, buying that thigh buster from a 2am infomercial or starting up your change the world business after your boss ticks you off …..hit PAUSE.
Ask yourself, why do you jump into new projects or drastic lifestyle changes so quickly? What are you hoping to achieve…really? Do you tend to start the same types of things over and over again only to NOT follow through? Are there patterns?
You have to figure this out because if all you do is “start” things and never finish them…that’s a lot of wasted effort and time.
Take time to really THINK before you leap. Don’t dwell on it long (then you become a procrastinator) just take a moment. Ask yourself, WHY do I want to start this? Don’t let the hype, cloud what’s really going on. Are you looking for a quick fix or are you really ready to do something different or new? Do you even have room in your life for more? And are you ready to do the work?
The most important element to your self-awareness is, do you believe you can ACCOMPLISH this new project or at least figure out how to do it as you go? However, some of you spend way too much time thinking and getting things done happens outside of your constant thoughts.
Habit Two: Do The Work
“You Want a FULL size order of Results & bragging rights but you say Please HOLD the work.”
Busted! Most serial quitters want all the feel good results but they consciously or unconsciously don’t want to actually do all the work it takes to get the results. Or you start a new project and you really want to accomplish it but as soon as it gets hard, confusing, you don’t see progress, it takes you away from fun things or takes longer than you think, you quit. The problem is many times serial quitters won’t admit this to themselves instead they’ll come up with lots of “valid reasons” that proves that they HAD to quit. “I got busy”, “It cost too much”, “It’s hard for everyone”, “It didn’t work for me—and I worked hard at it”, “It takes too much time”, “I’m different than everyone else, that’s why it didn’t work for me”, “I didn’t like it” and my favorite, “I’m just bad at following through.”……and the list goes on and on. Do you hear yourself coming up with excuses?
Some of you spend too much time in your head arguing what you have to do, IF you should do it or will it even work. You tell yourself that you need more motivation and more commitment. Some of you think you can't follow through because you don't believe you can.
None of this is true.
Gaining motivation, belief or even commitment all happens in your head. Follow-through happens in your practice and in your actions. Stop arguing with yourself. Stop the conversation. Stop taking the mind's bait because that's what is stopping you and sabotaging you from just taking action. You can take action regardless if you have motivation, commitment or even belief.
The next time you are revved up to start something new, be sure you are clear about the work, time, inconvenience and actions it will take to accomplish your desired results. Be sure you are very specific about WHAT you want to accomplish. Don’t start with the attitude that you will take the “fast track”, because anything worthwhile takes time, effort and you won’t LOVE it every minute.
Then stop the thinking and DECIDE you are ready to take action and tell your mind to "zip it!"
Habit Three: Test Drive Your New Project
“It’s OK to take your latest passion on a test drive before you buy it.”
We test drive cars, try on clothes and date our partners BEFORE we buy or commit. We don’t think we’re quitters if we try on twenty pairs of jeans and don’t buy any, right? It’s perfectly normal for high energy, creative people to be drawn to many ideas, projects and new ways of doing things or making our lives better. It’s OK to have dreams and goals—and not pursue them all. Not every endeavor we take on will be life-changing or be a lifelong passion. However, you won’t know this until you give yourself permission to dabble in all these areas before you “proclaim” which one is your new passion or obsession. Instead of saying you’re going to start working-out 7 days a week for the next year, start with 1 or 2 days a week for a month. You say, “How will that accomplish anything?!” When you are in the “dabble” or dating stage you aren’t trying to accomplish anything, YET…you are trying to see if it’s a fit….if you like it. Call this the “trial period”. There is a definitive start date and finish date. You will determine how to move forward AFTER the trial period is over. This approach takes the pressure off of you. Some of you feel you have to go “all in” or nothing at all. After the trial period is over, figure out if you liked it, what went well and what didn’t and WHY? Then figure out how to modify your approach to start a new trial period. Or maybe you cross it off your list as a NO GO.
If there are new things you want to try allow yourself to go into a dabble or trial phase where you test it out and if you don’t like it or find it’s not a fit you can cross it off your list. This isn’t quitting this is a process of elimination….it’s research….it’s experimenting with what works for you.
Some of you have created warped ideas of how starting new projects and habits should look like. This perspective has kept you from trying new things on a regular basis because you thought you had to FULLY COMMIT from the start or else you’re a “quitter!”. Wrong!!
Habit Four: Simplify The Process
“Choose Simplicity Over All Encompassing.”
When serial quitters start getting overwhelmed, confused or inconvenienced with their new project they start to feel less and less able or willing to continue. This is why you have to make it simple and smooth right from the beginning. Regardless if you test drive your new habit, hobby or new business before you start, you have to start simple. Don’t focus on all aspects of it just focus on one thing and dive into that. Learn how to do that one thing really well. When serial quitters overwhelm themselves with too much new information or too many new activities they tend to hit a burnout wall. When they are constantly having to “figure” stuff out they spend more time stuck in the “calculating” what’s next, than progressing forward.
Serial quitters pull themselves OUT of their trap when they feel PROGRESS. They must see it and feel it all the time in the beginning. If they take on too much it takes too long to see the progress and that leads to quitting.
If you want to grow your business don’t focus on 3 things even though you know all of them will work. Start with one. Start with the one that is the easiest (for YOU) to start and has the potential to see the quickest returns. Once you get good and feel comfortable with that “one”….then and only then look to the next easiest step.
For serial quitters you can’t focus on the BEST way to do something…you focus on the best way for YOU to do something. That maybe something different than your super-organized and always follows through counter-parts. We want YOU to follow-through, not the latest thing that everyone should be doing…we want YOU to see progress not perfection.
Habit Five: Define Completion
“If you don’t know where you’re going how will you know when you get there?”
The last habit seems simple but it’s not. In the beginning serial quitters are in a honeymoon phase with their new project but once that wears off and they don’t “achieve” the level they want they view that as failure or quitting. Ask yourself, before you begin and throughout the process, what does “completion” of this project look like. Some of you focus on “commitment”, "belief" and "motivation" instead of completion. This can create guilt and frustration because we never feel we are committed enough, believe enough or are motivated enough....we beat ourselves up for something we can't even measure or prove it's needed for follow through. Focus on your results not what it looks like to be fully committed or motivated...or even how strong our BELIEF is. Belief, Motivation and Commitment are abstract ideas that are hard to analyze objectivity—mostly for ourselves. Results are easy to judge…..what's IN our HEAD is not.
For example, if you want to learn how to play the guitar focus on what it looks like to complete that task not how committed you need to be. Instead of listing all that you MUST do, just figure out what “completion” looks like. Do you have to play like a professional, play like a rock star or do you just have to learn how to play 2 songs OK? How much will you have to practice to get there (you may not know this until you dabble with it a little)? Don’t set completion expectations so high that it would be too hard to achieve. Give yourself chances to feel like you “accomplished” something and didn’t quit. If you learn 2 songs it wouldn’t matter if you stopped learning more songs after that because you reached your completion destination and you won’t put quitting guitar on your list of “things you’ve quit.”
If you don’t define completion for each new thing you start, you could be wasting your time and thoughts on trying to just “not quit” or trying to “get committed”, "motivated" or building our "believing muscle" rather than focusing on what the end goal is. Be sure you KNOW what completing that new project looks like before you ever start…this helps you understand what quitting looks like also.
Following through isn't about belief, motivation or even your commitment level....it's only about smart action. Stop the arguing and stressed out conversations in your head. Just take ACTION and imagine you doing it with the MUTE button on for your mind.
Don’t forget that if you think you’re a serial quitter it’s not WHO you are, it’s just what you DO—and what you DO can change. If you change your approach, perspective and what you listen to in your head you’ll realize that sometimes you’re not quitting something at all—you’re making a deliberate choice to not do something….and it’s not an excuse it’s for the right reasons.