Mental Block: How to Finish What You Started
We've all probably experienced it: Starting something new and then leaving it unfinished. This may bring to mind that guitar you bought but only strummed once or twice, that DIY craft project you gathered all the supplies for but only made maybe one, or that decluttering project you started on to revamp your living space but is now put on hold and constantly pushed off to the next weekend. We've probably all experienced that. So what causes us to stop midway on a project and how can we motivate ourselves to finish the goals we start? Let's take a look.
Why Do We Abandon Projects?
You may have felt super excited when you first played with the idea of starting that new project. You went out and grabbed all the supplies & equipment for it. You did everything you needed to get ready to start this project. But once you started, you found yourself hitting the pause not too long afterwards. So what happened? Laziness could be a factor, but it's usually not the main reason. For one, it could be that we realize that the project we wanted to undertake turns out to be harder work that we had expected, takes longer to complete than we had hoped, or simply other tasks seem to take away the time we had open for this project. It could also be that we are just not sure of how to proceed next with the project, so we've put a temporary pause and tell ourselves that we will get back to it later...which turns out to be never. So how can we stop this vicious cycle of not completing our projects?
How to Avoid Getting Stuck
Here are a few suggestions as to what you can do to make sure that you are going to complete what you started:
1. Make a list
Why do you stop? Is there a pattern as to why you seem to halt halfway through a project you've started? Write down all the projects or goals you've made and started and write down why you stopped. Once you can determine the common denominator you may be able to discover how you can get rid of that obstacle that's affecting you each time you start a project.
2. Do Deep Research
Don't allow your emotions to sweep you off your feet and carry you into that next project. Make sure you do enough research into that new project you are eyeing and consider the costs. Take note of the potential hardships or obstacles you will need to overcome. That way, you will have a more balanced idea of what you are getting yourself into and if you're willing to put forth the time, energy, and money for it.
3. Be Realistic
Once you've done your thorough research and know exactly what you are getting yourself into, make sure you set reasonable goals for yourself. Carefully evaluate your circumstances and how much time you can actually put into this project. It's common for us, especially when we are emotionally excited to start a new project, to want to get things done quickly and see the results. However, if you insist on setting unreasonably high goals that you can't possibly achieve, you will be only setting yourself up for failure. So set a goal that works for you and your schedule and don't create high expectations for yourself.
4. Make Plans to Implement Your Project
Instead of making the results your success point, change it to the efforts you can make for this project. Start low, maybe 10 minutes a day, one new vocab a day, and so forth. When you focus on the efforts you made for the project each day and check them off, you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment and be more motivated to keep up the good routine. Set a deadline or time limit for your project. If you just give yourself unlimited time for a project, it can be counterproductive as you may find yourself constantly putting it off because you feel, "Hey I've got time to work on this later". To overcome this trap, set a deadline.
5. Make Yourself Accountable
What does that mean? Well, sometimes we tend to struggle to finish a project because we are working on it alone. When we work in isolation, we go easy on ourselves. Although it may be necessary to work alone to finish certain projects, if it isn't, having someone or something to hold you accountable for the progress you make on your projects can be a strong motivating factor. For example, ask a friend or family member for help. If you can't finish your project up to this point by a certain deadline, you owe them $20. No one likes to lose money, so that can be a good push to keep the ball moving. Or, if you can work on the project together with others, who aren't flaky, you can regularly discuss with them and get feedback and encouragement to finish your projects.
What Are You Waiting For? Finish That Project!
Now that you've read these tips, go and get started! Don't procrastinate any longer. And once you've ticked off all the projects you started, you will have a greater sense of accomplishment and boost your mental wellbeing. We hope that the year 2021 will be a year full of accomplishments for you!