Is Finishing What You Start something you currently struggle with? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you’re having trouble completing your goals, dreams, projects, or even simple tasks?

The obvious answer is that you may have too much on your plate. Every time you have good intentions to live your dream, successfully complete that project, or reach that life-changing goal, does LIFE seem to get in the way?

This begs another question; can you ever learn to proficiently finish what you start? It also leads one to ask; are there others who already achieve success in their lives and are just more capable than you?

The funny thing is that you’re probably reading this because you are someone who is already smart, driven, focused, ambitious, and has amazing goals set for them self. But somehow you can never manage to make your dream or goal a priority, it always seems to end up on the back burner, and it feels like you’re constantly playing catch up.

Question: Are you someone who has an amazing goal, dream or invention that’s been sitting on the shelf gathering dust, and right now it is nothing more than a great conversation piece or story you tell to others at dinner parties?

If your answer is yes, then you need to keep reading.

There is no formula that successful people poses that you too couldn’t have. Success also has little to do with money, education, or family connections.

And it has nothing to do with luck. In fact, let’s get “luck” out of your vocabulary from here on out for the rest of your life. Things don’t happen to you, they happen as a result of you.

Those lucky guys at Google who made billions. That lucky starlet who is in every major motion picture. That lucky entrepreneur who always seems to be on vacation. That lucky guy who put his name in a hat and won a brand new Aston Martin. Keep in mind that for every rule there will always be exceptions to the rule. And while there are exceptions to every rule in life, they are not the norm. And nine out of ten times when you come across someone you think has been lucky, it’s more likely that they’ve worked their butt off to reach their goals and enjoy the dream they set out to achieve. You never saw the work that went into their amazing results. You’re most likely seeing them at the end result. Remember, we see only ten percent of an iceberg. The other ninety percent (aka hard work) lays below the surface.

While success is hard work, it doesn’t mean you have to work hard. What is does mean however, is that you have to be willing to be persistent in reaching your goals. Often the difference between those who are successful and those who fail is small. Often successful people keep pushing forward long after others have given up. And remember, a race isn’t won in miles, it’s won in nanoseconds. That means that though you may not see it, the finish line may be just around the corner.
But right now we are talking about how to finish what you start; successfully. To do that, we need to examine your current habits and practices.

Most people who can’t seem to finish what they start often use the excuse of not having enough time. Said a different way, they are not good at Time Management.

If you fall into this category then you’re not alone. If this is you, then it’s not too late for you to learn how to become someone who finds they can have much more free time they thought. However, you are going to have to learn some new habits. It may seem hard at first but actually they are simple to master and once you’ve mastered these simple techniques you’ll find you are free-er, and suddenly you have more time available to take care of what you’ve been putting off in the past. You may suddenly find you have time to even take a nap.

The first step is to take a look at how many non-essential things you do every day. These are the things that can be big time wasters and may seem important to you on the surface, but are ultimately the very things that suck up all the VALUABLE time from your days.

The first of these is email. Now before you jump down my throat and say, “It’s part of my job. How am I supposed to do my job without email?”

For some this may be true, but to an extent. Perhaps it’s waiting for an important contract, or expecting a reply to your business proposal. But ask yourself if it is really essential or even necessary for you to be glued to the computer or your crack-berry device at all times? Probably not.

And since email is not an essential part of everyone’s life, you CAN train yourself to wean yourself from that time-sucking electronic device.

Think about it. Honestly ask yourself how many of those “Must Do” emails are, in fact, someone else’s request of something from you, yet it has little to do with you? Take a moment and think hard. Really take the time to look through them and see which ones are essential to your life or career and which ones are actually time wasters? Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to respond to a friend or colleague and offer advice and assistance. But do you really have to do it all the time, and worse, at the very moment it arrives at your In-Box? Again, probably not.

We humans can easily get distracted. Each day there are thousands of things every minute that attack our senses and take the focus off of what’s right at hand. Sights, sounds, smells, the weather, a shirt tag poking at your back, a baby screaming, a horn honking, a pretty girl or handsome guy walking by, all can become distracters. So can an email telling you that you’ve just WON a trip to Australia!

What if instead you could manage your emails and only handling them two, three, (or if absolutely necessary) four times a day, at specific times, and that’s all? What if you could stop glancing at your cell phone every time it buzzes or chimes with a new email message? How much more FREE time would you then be able to create for yourself EVERYDAY?

For many who are reading this it will be a big challenge at first. But ask yourself how important it is for you to REALLY finish what you start? Look at the past three years of your life. Have you made considerable strides to further yourself, your career, your goals, or are you finding you’re still stuck in “catch up” mode?

Instead, try an experiment for just one week. Just ONE WEEK. Start slow and choose only four times a day to respond to your emails. Just FOUR. No more. Pick four times that will not interfere with anything else you have going on. Just email. And don’t’ cheat by keeping your cell in your hand. If you decide that two of the times per day are going to be used responding to email via your cell phone, then once you are done, no more cell emails. That’s it.

Next, Pick one hour twice a week to clean up your email box. You should never have more than 50 emails, (I can actually hear you throwing up your hands right now, but stick with me).

We live in an age of technology and automation. You probably have an email system that can automatically place most of your emails in archived folders for you. e.g. If you get a lot of emails from Bob, create a “Bob” folder for all of his emails. I mean seriously, do they really need to be kept with all the other (non-essential) emails?

Get in the habit of deleting those emails that are least important. Here’s a good rule of thumb. Like with clothing, if you find you are not wearing something after six months, donate it. The same idea goes for emails. If you find you’re not readdressing an email or using it after, let’s say, four weeks, file it or trash it immediately.

As I said, this habit will be hard for you at first but stick with it. You’ll soon find that it’s not as painful as you first thought and that the world did not end. In fact, you may find for the first time in your life that you are actually seeing and enjoying the world you live in.

This next step we’re going to discuss will make the dread of this new email regime seem like a cakewalk. Next you are going to limit and curtail your texting habits.

Again, think about how many non-essential texts you do every day. Every minute. Every second!

Today we live in an immediate world where everything is now or yesterday. Rush, rush, rush. But just how productive is that for most people? Think about how much more productive and creative we were before television, cell phones, and email? You may not have been around then but certainly you can see and agree why we had so many more successful painters, sculptors, creators, and inventors, before the masses became glued to these time-sucking devices. Instead, days were typically filled with writing, socializing, creating, exploring, family, travel, charity work, and mentoring. Long before cell phones existed, telephone calls were limited to just a couple times a day. And we did just fine! And, there was no texting!

Don’t get me wrong, these devices all have their merits and can be useful. But we are addressing the goal of finishing what you start and what can keep you from enjoying the benefits of completion.

Examine a day’s worth of texting to really look at how many were absolutely necessary? How many were fun socializing? And how many were from someone asking something of you?

This time I’m not going to hold your hand. I cannot limit you to doing this time-sucking task to only four times a day. But I will suggest however, that you try to leave your cell phone either in the car or at home whenever you can.

If you are going to the movies, make an effort to leave it on your car. Not your purse, your car. If you are going to dinner with friends or family, leave it in your car. Not your purse, your car. If you are at home and sitting with a family member or friend, it’s a great opportunity to leave your cell phone in the other room.

If a call comes in by all means answer it if absolutely necessary. But getting into the habit of not always having it with you can free you up in more ways than you realize, and like the first time you were told that you had to wear a seatbelt, at first you resisted, but eventually you got into the habit.

Next on your Finish What You Start list is to unlearn multitasking. By doing this you will no longer be a victim of overwhelm.

Often , one task cannot be accomplished until another task has first been completed. Sometimes the accomplishment of a single task can be the catalyst in the entire process that streamlines all the other tasks you must handle and catapults you even faster to the finish line.

To successfully become a Jedi project master who reaches their goals every time you will need to create a project list. Specifically on a piece of paper that you will keep with you throughout your day. This list cannot be kept on your computer, though you may use your computer to type it up. Also, it cannot be kept on your cell phone.

Two things are at work here. By writing your tasks, projects, errands, and goals down onto a piece of paper, you create a process within your subconscious that begins the job of figuring out the best way to handle these goals. Second, if you can train yourself to write down these projects the night before, during the evening you will come up with the best way to perform these tasks.

We are visual by nature. With very few exceptions we think in images and pictures. When you write down for example “pick up the dry cleaning”, as one of your errands, you actually visualize that dry cleaning establishment within your mind. Or even the clothes you are picking up. Even if it’s just for a nanosecond. By writing your tasks out the night before, you create a system within your mind of the best method to efficiently and productively handle your projects.

An important MUST technique is when you do create your list, whether it consists of projects, goals, dreams, tasks, errands, objectives, or a combination of them all, you must never write down more than ten (10) items per day. It doesn’t matter if you’re already a master at doing tasks, keep it to ten (10). The reason behind this as you will see is vital to your Finish What You Start success.

If your list does contains more than ten things you’ll look at it and instantly begin to feel overwhelmed. This can happen on a subconscious level at first, but soon the results will also creep into your conscious mind and begin to drag your energy and enthusiasm down. This can also constrict your creativity as well.

The second reason you want to keep the list to only ten (10) items is that you want to create a habit of GOAL REACHING accomplishment within you. By seeing your task, goals, and objectives completed, you create new muscles within you that become mission driven and you start to see how really easy it is to get things done. You become more empowered. In no time you will build drive, momentum, and creative power within you.

Once an item on your list in completed, check it off and/or cross it off your list. Do this in a way where you can still see the completed task. In other words, don’t black it out entirely. Again, this creates a sense of accomplishment and unstoppable power within you. At the end of the day you are going to really see how much you’ve accomplished and how farther along you now are.

Often you may have a couple items left on your list that have not been completed. If you do have items that haven’t been completed at the day’s end, do not hang onto that list and carry it with you the next day. Instead, you’ll want to create a brand new list and add these few incomplete items to it. Beginning with a fresh piece of paper each day rather than hanging onto an old one builds within you a sense of completion and you find you’re becoming someone who can master any project. And, that you are no longer someone who has a lot of unfinished projects left on his plate.

Exercise: Keep a small journal for one week of a list of all the non-essential time-wasters that you have in your life. Do this much in the same way that you would journaling or tracking your finances & purchases. By the end of the week you should be able to truly examine everything that you can eliminate in your life or that’s keeping you from reaching your SUCCESS goals.

Finishing what you start is about a simple process:

• Making a DECISION that this is something you must accomplish
• Taking time to PLAN the process
• Taking ACTION towards achieving it
• Being PERSISTENT (this is the key difference between those who are successful and those who quit)
• Having no HESITATION – By taking action and moving forward even if you have fear or anxiety (fear is only a feeling)
• Checking in with others often on your progress (feeling alone can keep you locked in a vacuum)

Here’s an important distinction: Urgent tasks are those things that you must do immediately like phone calls, emergencies, interruptions, the demands of your boss or customer. The “In your face” things that require your “urgent” attention. These things are determined by external pressures and requirements.

Important tasks however, are those things that contribute to reaching your own goals and that contribute to your long term future: planning, organizing, studying, researching your project or customers, and setting priorities before you begin.

Then there are also the tasks that are urgent but not important such as the ringing telephone, a trivial text, someone who wants to socialize or chat. These things bring no results!

Remember, managing time is managing yourself. If you are someone who wants to finish what you start but could never figure out how to do it, here’s your chance.

Want a great tip? This is one I learned from my mentor, Brian Tracy. Keep the word “Consequences” firmly fixed in your mind.

If you still can’t figure out which emails, texts, phone calls or tasks are the important ones, remember the word “consequences”.

Think to yourself, “What are the consequences if I do this particular task or activity?” The greater the possible consequence, the more important it is. Said another way, if the actions of what you do bring the results of what you want then it is an important task. If however, on the other hand, you are in the same place you were before or find you are now farther behind, then the task or action is not an important one.

Said in plain English: If you want to finish what you start, stop creating tasks, activities, or projects that get you nowhere. These things might make you feel valuable but they add nothing of importance to your life. And they don’t move you forward. However, if you make your dreams and goals the priority, you will find you are miles farther than ever before.

Strangely enough most people who practice these tools find that they have much more time to socialize, play and do more of the things that once sucked up all their time and kept them from enjoying LIFE.

I hope this resonates with you and gives you some great new tools to take your goals to the next level. If you feel that you want to go even deeper and really become someone who wants to be a master of their life instead of the other way around, I invite you to read my book, Finish What You Start. It incorporates simple principles that the top successful people use in their own lives to create the success results they want every time.

Author's Bio: 

Craig Copeland is an author and a speaker for several years and has recently begun speaking at seminars through his company the Reach Now Institute based on his new book "Finish What You Start": Unlocking The Success Secrets of the Top 1%.