How To ‘Force Yourself’ To Finish What You Start

Ever have one of those days when there is something that you have to finish — but you keep pushing it off.
 
That sales report you need to send out. The phone call you need to make. The contract you need to print. Or plain read that magazine that’s been sitting on your counter for three days.
 
Each time you look at it — you say to yourself, “Oh I should finish that…”
 
Then, “Uh… later… I still have some time — so let me got to this other ‘shiny-object.’
 
I don’t know about you — but that happens to me every day. Used to be worse… more about that in a minute.
 
What Does ‘Force Yourself’ To Finish Mean?
 
‘Forcing Yourself’ means that you do what you think is right at the right time. Taking a professional approach to the things that you need to finish.
 
Being where you said you would be. Having done what you said you would do. At a time when you said, you would have it done.
 
But this doesn’t take an immense amount of willpower. It won’t take massive habits, or even having a drill-sergeant stand over you.
 
Nope.
 
I’ve got a simpler method for you to ‘force yourself’ to finish whatever you start. When you said you would finish. And show up where you said you would. After having finished what you said you would finish.
 
Today you will discover the simple method to becoming a true professional 🙂
 
Before I tell you that — let me share with you
 
A Story:
I’ve always been easily distracted. In school, I was usually day-dreaming. Getting bored with classes, and wanting to do more exciting things.
 
For me, it was so bad that even during exams I would finish a 3-hour exam in 2 hours and then want to leave the examination hall. But that wasn’t going to happen. So I would day-dream.
 
It was easy enough in school — but in college, it got worse. Especially since I was forced to take English 101.
 
I grew up reading Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Stephen King — so had a natural knack for English. Plus, by the time I went to college I was doing freelance writing gigs for college students. Writing their thesis.
 
You can imagine what a bore English 101 was for me. Most of the time I would finish with an assignment by the time the teacher finished explaining it. The rest of the class would still be working on it.
 
But I wasn’t alone. Three of my friends in the same class were in the same boat.
 
One day as we’d finished the assignment out English teacher caught us passing notes in the hall.
 
“Are you finished?”, she said. “Yes Ma’am,” I replied.
 
“Well, if you’re finished you don’t need to sit in the back and pass notes. You’re welcome to leave the class,” she said.
 
My friends and I handed in our assignment and walked out. We knew that she would let everyone else out in another 30 minutes. Halfway or so through the class. We’d all go back in at that point to finish the rest of the lecture.
 
But no one came out. The class kept going.
 
Two hours later when the class was finally dismissed, the students came out as an angry mob.
 
The class was not happy with us. They told us that the teacher was shocked that we left the class. That the teacher gave the rest of the class a piece of her mind.
 
She gave a 30-minute lecture on the virtues of respecting teachers. How we’d disrespected education, and educator. How no one would dream leave a class in the ‘olden’ days.
 
Then, to show us how ‘powerful’ a teacher is she gave the rest of the class a surprise exam — with a 30% weight age on the finals.
 
She did not let anyone tell us — she said, ‘we deserved to punishment for leaving the class.’
 
She was being sarcastic when she said ‘if you’re finished you’re welcome to leave’.
 

The nerve!!!
 
The most interesting thing is — we left the class because of boredom. There was nothing in it for us.
 
Had we known the fact that there was going to be an exam after — we would’ve stayed.
 

And that’s the case when you get bored at work or while you’re studying. That’s the reason why people get bored at work. Or are unable to finish projects that are sitting on their desks for weeks on end.
 
It’s not that they are not capable of doing them. It isn’t that they are scared of finishing them. Or that they don’t have the skills. Or that they have other things happening.
 
It is that they are bored.
 
So here’s
 
Why you must read this post
 
If you don’t read this post you’ll spin your wheels unable to finish the tasks that you started. You will have a hard time finishing. You might even blame yourself — think you lack willpower, or that you’re plain lazy.
 
Your tasks will keep piling on as you’re unable to finish them. Your friends and family will become irritated with you. Your boss will overlook you for important projects and promotions.
 
You will get passed over by people with much less experience, expertise, and skill. Because they are finishers.
 
Ultimately, you will end up being a failure.
 
If you read the rest of this post you will discover a hidden force inside you that will compel you to finish the task.
 
You will become more productive than you’ve ever been before. Most days you will finish well before your friends and colleagues.
 
Your reports will get submitted on time — and with the highest accuracy. Your colleagues will become envious of your success, and your boss will sing your praises.
 
You will gain the respect and admiration of your industry.
 
By implementing this simple technique you will reach your highest potential. You will finish tasks and become more efficient.
 
Finally, you will never be afraid of taking on a difficult project and seeing it to completion. You will become the ‘go-to’ person for taking on challenging projects.
 
You will get the praise and acclaim that you deserve.
 
But before we go any further — let’s look at
 
What Does It Mean To Force Yourself To Finish
 
Ever have to finish something on a tight deadline. Or cram for that exam at the last minute. Or finish your presentation fifteen minutes before you had to deliver it.
 
What happened?
 
Well, chances are you made the deadline. You did okay in the exam. You delivered a good presentation.
 
How is it that we finish things right before the deadline? But are unable to finish some tasks that don’t have a deadline.
 
Think about it. The word deadline is scary. Ominous. It has a hard feeling to it. Like death attached to it.
 
It isn’t. But that’s how our mind perceives it. Our mind thinks that if we don’t meet a deadline — we’re dead.
 
We’ll get fired. We’ll fail. We’ll get laughed at.
 
That’s what a deadline makes us feel.
 
So we force ourselves to finish. When there is a deadline we finish. But that’s only the first part.
 
The second part is a consequence attached to that deadline.
 
Being fired — is a consequence.
 
Failing your exams — is a consequence.
 
Being laughed at — is a consequence.
 
The minute you attach a consequence to a deadline — work gets finished. You submit the report. You study for your exams. You deliver a good presentation.
 
Deadline plus consequence. That’s how you force yourself.
 
That’s the logic and theory behind what we’re talking about today.

Deadline.
 
Consequence.
 
Repeat after me. You finish by having these two.
 
A Deadline.
 

A Consequence.
 
So now that you know how to finish, let’s look at
 
How To Force Yourself To Finish Things
 
Now that you know that you need to have a deadline plus a consequence — to finish things. Let us look at how to install this in your work and life.
 
It won’t take long — but you will have to do it.
 
Here it is.
 
Step 1. Have a specific task you want to finish.
 
It has to be specific. Something that someone else can measure without even asking you.
 
Let’s look at a few examples.
 
The report gets submitted — specific
 
Submit a good report — not specific. How do you tell if the report was good or not?
 
A report with 99% accuracy gets submitted — VERY SPECIFIC. Anyone looking at this will be able to tell if you met the aim.

 

Study for 2 hours — specific.
 
Study with concentration — not specific.
 
Study for 2 hours with 90% recall — specific.
 
Find something specific for yourself to finish.
 
Step 2. Find a time when you will finish
 
You can’t say I will do this when I do this. There has to be a hard deadline for when you will finish.
 
This deadline has to be tight enough that you will have to work for it — but not so tight that it’s impossible.
 
If it’s not a tight deadline, you won’t work hard. If you aren’t working hard, you will get bored. Like the story I mentioned. I wasn’t being difficult with the teacher, I got bored.
 
The course material was too easy for me.
 
If it had been harder, I would be challenging and I would’ve worked harder to get it.
 
Use the same principle for yourself. Have a deadline that is challenging to keep you motivated. But not difficult to scare you into inaction.
Challenging — but attainable. That’s the mantra for our deadline.
 
So far we’ve figured out what we want to finish AND we’ve put a deadline to it. Let’s move to the next step.
 
Step 3. Figure a consequence.
 
This has to be a large enough consequence that you feel the pinch. That it costs you. Embarrasses you. Or has real world consequences to you.
 
Consequences can be large or small. But if they are too small you won’t care about losing. If they are too large, it will get paralyzing.
 
So make them such that you feel a pinch.
 
Let’s look at some good consequence.
 
Getting fired — BIG consequence.
 
Buying a colleague coffee — not big enough.
 
Getting kicked out of college — BIG consequence.
 
Buying a friend a beer — not big enough.
 
Plus, I’m usually okay buying my friends a couple of beers of coffee. So these consequences don’t really mean much to me.
 
Here’s how I do it. A cheque for $100 given to a friend. And telling him if I don’t finish XYZ (by such and such date) — take your spouse out to dinner on me. That’s a big consequence.
 
$100 is enough to feel the pinch. But not so that you’ll end up being bankrupt. Plus a date night for my friends will also give him boasting rights to the rest of my friends to tell them that I failed.
 
This is my secret sauce. Giving a friend a cheque for $100. And telling him to spend it if I don’t do what I told him I would do. By the date that I said I would have it done.
 
No excuses. Even if I’m a minute late — he gets to spend the money.
 
That keeps me on my toes.
 
This is the simple three-step formula to finishing what you start.
 
But A Word Of Warning!!!
 
This is a simple three-step formula that anyone can put in place immediately. But because it is a simple formula people won’t.
 
They’ll think this is too easy. Or think, I’m not putting my money on the line.
 
The minute you put your money on the line you will work your a$$ off to finish. You know you have a chance of losing the money and losing face – so you finish.
 
You will get behind your project — do whatever it takes and get it done. You won’t wait. You’ll do it.
 
And that’s the whole point of this three-step formula — to get you to take action.
 
If you don’t take action — nothing matters. But by putting a real consequence on the line. By making it such that if you don’t take action you lose. Your mind will force you to take action. It will push you.
 
And you will take action.
 
All you have to do is follow the three-step formula.
 
Action steps
  1. Figure out what you want to finish
  2. Put a specific deadline to when you will finish
  3. Write a friend a cheque that will pinch your wallet.
  4. Tell him to spend it if you’re not finished at the deadline.
You will realize that your friend only has to spend this cheque once, and you will never again miss a deadline.
 
Quick Recap
 
In this post, we looked at…
 
Why boredom is the main culprit when we can’t finish tasks
 
The secret sauce to finish anything that you want to finish when you want to finish it
 
The simple three-step formula to force yourself to finish anything.
 
Your Turn
 
Now it’s your turn. What did you think? Did this three-step formula help you? What’s the biggest task that you’ve been putting off on?
What’s the consequence you’re going to choose? Leave a comment below with your biggest challenge, and the consequence you picked.
As always — I love to hear from you. So leave a comment below.