The final stretch of 2018: How Do you Finish?

The days are getting shorter, the remaining pages of your calendar are thinner – yep, we are winding down the year 2018. What goals did you set at the beginning of this year, and where do they stand? If you haven’t completed them, why not? How are you at finishing what you start?

When I was growing up, my dad was great at planning and starting projects, but terrible at finishing them. From the playhouse that was complete except for a door and window pane, to the cabinets that were hung but not finished, my dad had amazing potential, but a lack of follow through. I’ve certainly had my share of incomplete projects and the frustration of beginning something, and not finishing. Which is why I love supporting my clients to get those important goals across the finish line.

It’s so easy, and often fun, to set a goal. To imagine the possibilities. Or to be fed up with the pain and ready to change. Yet with so many things to do, and so many distractions, it’s also very easy to fail to finish.The more goals we abandon, the more we can label ourselves as “procrastinators,” or “easily distracted.” Or we can just give up on setting  goals entirely.

Now is the time to make the decision on how you want to finish the year. When everyone else is giving up and saying, “I’ll just start in the new year,” how do YOU want to focus for the final weeks of 2018? Do you want to ring in 2019 with great momentum and focus, or “hoping” that you’ll follow through better this year? If you have health goals, this is an especially important time of year to stay focused on those goals. You don’t have to conform to social eating and drinking pressures – your health is much more important than that!

Here are some psychological tips that are helpful both for my clients and myself:

  • Reconnect with why your goal was so important when you set it. Ideally you will have written this down when you set the goal. A  compelling reason to follow through is the key to achieving any goal.
  • Create a sense of urgency. Why must you make progress on this NOW? Create a countdown on your calendar, identify a reward for achieving a specific result by year end and/or a penalty for not following through, get an accountability buddy to help you stay focused for the next few weeks, and think about how good you’ll feel when you do achieve that result.
  • Don’t use the holidays as an excuse! Instead, use the holidays as a “trial period” to practice some focus or productivity habits. For example, plan how you will keep from overeating or drinking too much at parties. Just a little bit of planning goes a long way to creating great results.  
  • Remember what’s REALLY important. When I am working with someone who is really stressed about the holidays, I often ask them what’s most important. Almost universally, what’s most important is quality time with people. Yet they are so stressed with what they need to DO, that they can’t even BE with those people. Get clear about what’s really important (especially regarding your goals) and stay focused on how to make that a reality.

And finally, when I think about finishing a goal, it’s not heroic, big actions that help people finish. It’s the little, daily, mundane decisions that matter. If you’re a great finisher, it’s because you are willing to create the focus and do the small steps daily. Every important goal that I finish becomes evidence of who I am as someone who finishes what she starts. Is it easy for me, as a coach, to do that? No! I work at it like everyone else. But each time we practice finishing strong, it builds our identity as that person who DOES get what he or she sets out to do. Is that who you choose to be as we complete 2018?

 

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