If You Start It, Finish It

Get Things Done, Make The World Better

Here's a short piece of advice for you.  It's quite simple.

If you start something, finish it.

Otherwise, what you have done borders on worthless.

Let me give you a few quick examples.

Not Done = Not Very Useful

  • You start college, but drop out and don't get your degree.  Congratulations.  You got "half" an education.  Think of the money and time you or your parents wasted.  (BTW, if you are among the .000001 percent of the world that goes to MIT to study computer science and then drops out to start your multi-billion dollar start-up, you can safely ignore this advice.  For the rest of us, if you start college, finish your education.)

  • You start a short story or novel, but get stuck and fizzle out.  The story has hung fire.  Yuk.  I'm not saying you have to get your story published.  But for goodness sake, finish the story!  Don't leave those characters in a world without any completion……

  • You sign up for a dating site, create a profile, then only contact one or two people.  You don't bother to put any effort into the project.  What's the point!?

The Gulf Between Done And Not Done Is Massive


This may seem obvious, but too few of us really take this to heart.  When we don't finish stuff, we can't use what we have created.  You can't help people with a half-written piece of software.  It's just a mess of confusion and not-done-ness.

So what are the lessons here?  First, be thoughtful about what you start.  Consider whether you can actually take something through to completion--to the point that it will have value to you and the world.  Second, if you do start something, make every effort to push it through to completion.

What Do You Have Left Undone?


Here's an exercise for you.  What projects in your life have you left incomplete?  You may have to recognize some past endeavors as a lost cause.  Mentally cut them away, and let go.  For those that remain, make a point to finish what you started.  You will help yourself and the world by putting things in order.

P.S. I want to add a caveat here.  In the short term, on small projects, if you find yourself mentally stuck, it is often a good idea to back away and let your mind rest a bit.  This often leads to new solutions that wouldn't arise if you just kept pounding away at the problem.

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