Ahhh…the last lazy days of Summer are upon us. And here I am popping onto your screen to talk about unfinished projects and the end of the year.
Not really when you consider that September 1 is just around the corner, and it has become the “new” new year. A phenomenon that even the likes of the Wall Street Journal and Fast Company now recognize.
Like January 1, September 1 feels like a fresh start. Like January 1, it prompts you to think about what you want and what is/isn’t working. This is also when you tend to get back to a “normal” routine after the Summer slow down, and begin to buckle down with a renewed commitment to get things done.
And let’s face it, we all have our share of things to get done – especially those unfinished projects that seem to be stuck in a perpetual state of “to do” or “doing.” But, not “done.”
Unfortunately, regardless of how many good, and possibly valid, reasons you have for those unfinished projects, they are weighing you down. They are taking up physical (perhaps digital), mental, emotional and/or creative space.
There’s a cost to your unfinished projects.
They chip away from you being able to experience a sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction. And depending upon how self-critical you are, they can kick up feelings of failure and insufficiency due to not completing what you started.
Interestingly, most of the projects that fall into this category are deadline-free. And the only person to whom you are accountable for completing them is… yourself.
Indecision is crippling
Projects just don’t magically become stuck. The momentum slows down for a reason.
So, what is that reason? Why do you and I get stuck when it comes to completing some projects in the first place? Why do you and I so easily let ourselves down in this way?
Is it due to time constraints, a lack of discipline or organizational skills, or lost interest? Likely, it’s a bit of each depending upon the nature of the project and its importance to you.
But based on my own experience with unfinished projects and what I’ve observed of friends and clients, here’s my theory: Projects go unfinished due to indecision.
You cannot seem to:
- Decide what is the next step
- Decide whether it is worth continuing
- Decide if you should let it go
So, you opt for standing still and do nothing to move forward.
However, two key ingredients to success in life and business are to (a) make decisions, and (b) finish projects. Therefore, it stands to reason that having fewer unfinished projects hanging over your head is a worthy aim.
From stuck to unstuck
Yet, there are a few things I believe you need to do before you can make one of the three decisions noted above and finish what you started (or be at peace with abandoning it). Whether you started your project/s at the beginning of the year, last year, or years ago.
You need to be a project profiler. Here’s how.
Make a list
Grab your favorite beverage and note pad and do a brain dump listing all of your unfinished projects. Then separate out those with a deadline from those without. When you’re done, tally up your projects without a deadline.
What’s the type?
How many of your deadline-free, unfinished projects are personal or professional? Tally up your types.
Is it (still) important?
All projects are in service to a particular goal of yours. Write down the goal or purpose of each project, as well as what inspired it. Also, note what makes the goal and project important to you.
What’s the connection?
How does each project connect to your vision – life vision, professional vision, financial vision, health vision…you get the picture.
Let’s dig a bit deeper…
What’s blocking you?
Like I said previously, you don’t magically become stuck. So, for each unfinished project, write down possible reasons as to why you are. Is it due to time; is it about your habits and discipline; is it no longer a priority; is it because the current status makes you feel safe in some way; are you caught up in being a perfectionist; are you bored with it; are you afraid of what happens next – after you complete it; do you need a resource you don’t have right now (like extra money)?
I suspect you might have a different reason for each project. What’s critical here is that you don’t censor yourself or judge what you write.
What about others?
Who else, if applicable, does your project affect? Why does it matter to them? Why does what matters to them matter to you?
This is somewhat connected to the project’s goal and how it fits with your vision. But are you clear about what makes your project complete? No, really, what constitutes “finished.”
Time to decide!
Now, you have more information to decide what is the next step, whether it’s worth continuing, or if you should give yourself permission to change your mind and let it go. Prematurely making this decision only serves to keep you stuck.
In January, you had the whole year ahead of you and a lot of time to get things done. But now you have just four months in which to do so. That’s why September is the perfect time to start thinking about those unfinished projects and unmet goals (especially your financial ones), or the decisions you‘ve been putting off, or the actions you’ve been postponing.
Because with just a few months to go until year-end, now is the perfect time to ask: What can you complete so that you can finish the year strong(er)?
In other words, what will it take to lighten your load?
Plus, since the weight of unfinished projects slows you down, it also stands to reason that completing them will increase your energy. And who doesn’t want more energy to help you finish the year stronger?!
p.s. If you’re game, join us at the next Comfort Circle™ dinner on Monday, September 24th at 6:30pm because showing you how to use the last four months of the year as rocket fuel for completing what you started is precisely what we’re going to be tackling! Click here to RSVP.