How to Become a Strong Finisher

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Imagine climbing a mountain and getting half way up and saying to yourself,“You know what, I’m going to climb back down and finish this later.”

Sounds silly, but that is what we do all of the time.  We have projects that sit waiting to be completed.  Some people start college but never graduate.  We have books that we never finish reading.  The list goes on and on.  Many people are great at beginning things but can’t seem to finish strong.

You may not realize it, but not being a strong finisher in life can limit your ability to conquer the goals that you have.  Whenever we procrastinate, delay, or put to the side, the things that will help us accomplish our goals, we stunt our potential.

Not only does not finishing cause our lives to stall, we make it harder on ourselves whenever we do decide to start again.  Consider this; every time I begin a new exercise program my muscles are sore for a few days. After a few weeks of routine, the muscles get accustomed to the program and grow stronger.  Thus, no more sore muscles.  Well, when I take some time off, I dread starting again because I know that my muscles are going to be sore again.

That is just one example of why learning to finish strong is so important.  Strong finishers have learned how to remove distractions, conquer procrastination and focus on getting the best result from anything that they start.

What Really Matters

I’ve read-and used to believe-that the most important part of accomplishing goals is getting started.  I no longer believe that.  I now believe that the most important part is finishing those goals the right way.  I mean, what’s more meaningful, the score at half-time or the final score?   The wedding or the 40th anniversary?  The opening credits, or the way a movie ends?

Finishing strong also matters when it comes to the way you live your life. What matters is not where you were born, who your parents are or what your circumstances may be right now.  What matters is the legacy you leave behind.  In all areas of our lives, finishing strong is what makes a successful life.

Not finishing what I started has been an off again-off again-problem for me.  Part of the reason it has been an issue has been because of my interest in doing many different things.  I have so many interests that-in some crazy way-I felt as though I should be doing all of them at the same time.There are many reasons why we do not finish strong.  Here are just a few:

Distractions-Allowing other things to take priority over what your goals are.

What’s more meaningful, the score at half-time or the final score?   The wedding or the 40thanniversary?
The opening credits or the way a movie ends? “ 
Multitasking-Doing too many things and not focusing on just one may cause you to leave many things half done.Procrastination- According to Psychology Today, 20% of people consider themselves chronic procrastinators.

Fear-Being afraid of the results of your efforts can cause you to slow or stop your progress.

“Sometimes, the type of degree doesn’t even matter.  The important part is that they proved that they are able to finish what they start.” 

The World Loves a Finisher

Have you ever watched any sporting event when someone makes a game winning goal?   In basketball, football, and soccer, when a player wins the game in the clutch with shot or kick, that player is usually embraced and carried off on the shoulders of his teammates.

In the everyday world, employers are looking for people who have a degree on their resume instead of the ones that have “some college completed”.  I was having a conversation with a woman in the human resource field and I asked her about the type of college degree she thinks holds the most value when she is reviewing an applicant.  She said, “Sometimes, the type of degree doesn’t even matter.  The important part is that they proved that they are able to finish what they start.”  I’ve heard this type of statement from many different hiring managers as well.

We all want the type of people around us that finish what they start. From the mechanic that repairs your car to the stylist that does your hair, we all what others to finish what they start and we want them to finish well.  If we expect that from others, we should also expect that from ourselves.

How to Finish Strong

By now I hope I’ve been able to convince you that starting is not good enough.  The value comes from finishing what you start.  The problem is, learning to become the type of person that can see a task, project, or anything else to its full completion.  Here are some ways that I learned how to become a strong finisher.

1. Sharpen Your Focus

Losing focus can cause you to get distracted.  When you get distracted you are more likely to abandon what you are doing and turn your attention towards something else.  Before you know it, you have another unfinished project or idea on your hands.

Of course there will be obstacles and challenges that may arise.  Then there are times when you just don’t feel like doing what you’re supposed to be doing.  But those things are all a part of journey.  Learn not to focus on those things but on your goal.

2. Commit to Finishing

Make a commitment to not stop until the job is D-O-N-E!  Make a promise to yourself that-no matter what happens-you will complete what you’ve started.  I promise that the feeling of accomplishment that comes after completing a job well done is so strong that it will fuel your desire to fulfill the next challenge and then the next.

3. Feel Good About Finishing

If you are like me, you get excited about starting something new. Whether it’s a new job or a new relationship, there is something exciting about the beginning stages of a new experience.  But if you want to become a strong finisher, you must learn to love finishing more than starting.

Begin to celebrate the things you complete well.  The next time you complete anything or reach an important milestone, take the time to enjoy it.  Then, remember that feeling and take it with you as you go forward.

4. Test Yourself

A good way to test your finishing ability is to create a metric.  First assign yourself 5 to 10 tasks or projects.  Next, set a time limit or deadline for each project. I would recommend you set the deadline no more than 7 days from the start date.  Then, create a “finish line” for each task.  The finish line is what will let you know when the project is complete.

Once you’ve done that, begin your list of projects.  At the end of the week, check your results.  How many of your tasks were completed?  Now, examine each task and judge whether or not those tasks were done with quality.  If you completed 2 out of 9 tasks, then it is time to evaluate yourself to see why the other 7 things on your list were left undone.

5. Ask The Million Dollar Question

Once you’ve become accustomed to finishing what you’ve started, its time to make sure that you are a strong finisher.  Ask yourself the million dollar question, “Did I do this to the best of my ability?”  This question can be applied to just about anything you do.

If you finally finished reading that book that you started years ago, ask yourself “Did I do this to the best of my ability?  Did I really throw myself into the book?  Did I read for comprehension or did my mind wonder as I was getting closer to the end?”

If you’re in business and have a list of things that need to be competed each day or week, ask yourself, “Did I put my all into each one of these tasks or did I rush through most of them so that I could get done?”  If you are honest with yourself, you may find that there may have been things that you could have done that would’ve made the job better.

The Result

So how do you know that you are a strong finisher?  Along with the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, other people will begin to notice the change.  Your boss, co-workers, friends and family will have no choice but to recognize your strong finishing ability.

Soon, you will be rewarded with more trust from your peers and customers.  You will be offered more responsibility from your boss and supervisors.  They will see in you a person who is able to not only climb the mountain; but is able to conquer the mountain.

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