By the end of primary school we began to think that the trait of fleeting from one activity to another was one we unfortunately held with only a select few. As we aged, this trait became ever more prominent and common. In some cases dropping a commitment was viewed as a virtue of adaptability. While we agree that headstrong foolhardiness can lead to downfall there are so many people that can benefit from logically thinking about their commitment patterns and an increased dose of delayed gratification. If you’re one of us as most people are then keep reading for a guide on how to improve your chances of completing what you set out to do. A warning that the tips offered may be a bitter pill to swallow at first.
Commit in a slower manner
Unless you’re clinically depressed, we’ve all experienced ecstatic highs and dismal lows. Both phases can be toxic in affecting how we accomplish tasks if uncontrolled. At our lows it’s obvious that nothing is achieved because we feel sapped and plain well just can’t be bothered. The highs on the other hand set the path. In euphoria we over commit. When was the last time you felt something desirable was within grasp solely because an experienced friend of yours offered powerful and encouraging words, watched a Les Brown video or any other form of extrinsic motivation popped up? Great feeling. That is until you make a choice to pursue it at a time that doesn’t quite fit in your life and when unfinished hits your will and self-esteem like a semi-trailer at full speed. For the avoidance of doubt, Les Brown is amazing and probably so too is your friend.
What we advocate is that the next time you feel that urge, take pause and think whether what you’re planning to embark on matches with your deep goals and principles, and also whether you have the resources to execute now. Capital N. Because that’s the only time you can and should act on it. If there is at least one ‘no’ in there, write the idea down somewhere as a concept for future reference and deliberation.
Perfect is the enemy of good
It would be marvellous if we could commit to memory how to say this in French. Notwithstanding, the lesson is there. Like so many grand pieces of work, perfection or the closest thing is achieved through iteration and setbacks. We’d love to give you exact tips for your situation but we each have our own 99 problems so we’re leaving this as a principle you can refer to time and time again.
Practice delayed gratification
Sometimes we just need a kick in the mental butt. A voice that says NO more fried chicken, your waist is already wider than your shoulders; NO more sleeping, your family is depending on you; NO more delaying that call because you know deep down that’s going to generate so much more output than formatting your contact list. The inverse applies to getting your work done. There’s nothing magical or hack about it. You have to suffer and grind to get it done. What are you on the brink of quitting at this moment? Does it still make sense for you to complete. If so then you need a warm cup of nothing because all you need is to do a bit of it now and then a bit more immediately after you finish the bit that you’re going to do now until you finish. Told you it would be bitter. On the bright side it’s not a sunk cost yet which means the o’so sweet reward is at the end prime for the taking.
Find ways to exercise this mental muscle. The next time you’re faced with a mundane choice, force your mind and body to take the slightly less pleasant option. Here are some examples.
- The next time you’re about to go up an escalator take the stairs instead.
- The next time you have to respond to your manager’s email, hit that reply button instead of going to make a coffee or tea.
- If you’re thinking about an idea or problem as you walk focus on that one notion. Every time you catch your mind slipping to the girl in the red dress, an imaginary Rolls Royce sidling up to pick you up or how a colleague spoke over you in a meeting, rope it back on to that one thought you committed to mull over.
- Swap the soft drink for mineral water.
The good news is that the more you work it, the better you become at self-control which translates to getting your shit done like a boss.
So, what do you need to finish?