10 Tips on How To Finish this Course & Other Projects
The biggest hurdle that most students face after in rolling with the College of Real Estate, is believe it or not, completing the course. This really, has nothing to do with our school and has everything to do with life in general.
Most of us, have good intentions. We buy memberships, with the intentions of getting physically fit. We DIY buy books, with the intentions Of completing a project. We buy courses with the intentions of improving or resume or increasing our financial well being.
If you have been taking action and working on your goals, that’s a big achievement and you should be proud of yourself! Getting started is your first step to realizing your goals.
However, if you have a habit of starting many new things but not finishing them, that’s something to look into. Many people get stuck in the thinking but not doing phase, and that’s not good because your goals won’t magically get completed without you taking action.
1. Be selective of what you embark on
When you start on a project (especially if it’s a big scale one), be sure that this is something you are passionate about and you want to see through. Personally I don’t start something unless I’m absolutely sure that I’m interested in it.
I have embarked on things which I was half-interested in in the past, for example learning tennis or learning Japanese. Eventually I stopped them mid-way. This resulted in waste of time and resources which could have been better utilized elsewhere.
Because of that, I’m more conscious of how I utilize my time and energy today. If you set a high threshold on what you want to do, the completion rate is also higher.
If you aren’t sure that this is something you really want to do, you can dip your feet into the pool first – try it out on a small scale and see if it’s what you’re interested in. For example, if you’re interested in starting a business, read up on it first. If you keep thinking about it every day for weeks, then you should probably give it a go-ahead.
2. Estimate the resources you need
In companies they do resource planning, where they estimate how much resources is needed for a project. After which, they plan out the manpower and investment accordingly. For us, that means doing a quick plan on how much time and effort this idea will take, so we can have a bird’s eye view.
It doesn’t have to be exhaustive. Just a quick outline will help. The point is to have something that guides you. With a raw outline done, break it down into smaller tasks by each section, starting with the first – creating the outline. Then move on to the other sections. Having this skeletal outline gives you a bird’s eye view on what needs to be done, so you can prepare yourself accordingly. This then brings to the next point in resource planning.
3. Budget your time and energy accordingly
After you create your outline, you should have a realistic idea of how much time and effort is needed to complete it. Plan out your time and resources accordingly and integrate them into your schedule/to-do list. Block out time in your calendar for the project. Give yourself some buffer as well, in case of contingencies.
A big reason for loss of enthusiasm or energy is when people underestimate the amount of work needed to bring the goal to life. The biggest reasons we don’t reach our goal(s) is because (a) we underestimated the work required, and (b) we are too hung up about unimportant details.
Good planning of resources help you plan out your energy and expectations. You know you have to put in X hours and X work to get the final output, so you’ll manage yourself appropriately to achieve your desired outcome. That’ll lead to a higher project success rate.
4. Quit being a perfectionist
How many of us keep delaying work because we want to get it just right? I’m all for perfectionism and getting the best output, but if your desire for perfectionism is preventing you from getting things done, you should challenge it. If you’re stalled at a stage of the project and you keep revising it again and again, park it for a later stage and move on to a new part. Return to it later on and see it with fresh eyes. You might notice that what you were hung up about really isn’t that big of a deal. Also, constantly referring to your outline (step #2) is also helpful in getting perspective. Your objective is to finish the project, so keep your eyes on the prize.
If your perfectionism is preventing you from even getting started, try these two tips: First, break the task into many little steps, then focus on one part at the time. If you still put it off after breaking it down, then break it down even further into mini pieces. Soon, you’ll be left with such a simple task that you’ll be wondering what was keeping you from doing it from before! The second tip is to give yourself the permission to do a draft version. Meaning, there’s no need to get it done right the first time. Just creating a draft, even if it’s a crappy one, is better than if you didn’t do anything at all. Get started and things will roll on from there.
5. Commit to it
Once you start, commit to it. Whatever you have planned, do them. Give yourself the option to exit a project if it’s really not in line with your vision (see #9), but otherwise hold yourself to your word.
Ask yourself what’s more important to you – Going out to party for the weekend or to work on that business you’ve been meaning to set-up? The former might bring you some temporal gratification, but the latter is what truly gives you satisfaction. The rewards you get from doing the latter are rewards which you’ll continue to reap long afterwards.
6. Connect with your end vision
You might have experienced this. Whenever you begin on a new project, you’re full of energy and enthusiasm. Then when you get into the thick of things, this energy fades away, bit by bit. You’re still excited about the overall project, but you’re not so hyped about the nitty gritty tasks that come as part of the work. After all, it’s the beautiful house that you seek at the end, not all the brick laying and cementing work.
But all the brick laying and cementing work IS part of what makes that beautiful house in the end. Every little bit you’re doing now counts toward realizing that end vision. It’s just easy to lose sight of that because you’re caught up in the daily micro-tasks that keep coming, one after another.
The problem here is your end vision is slipping away from you, so just bring it back in sight (both physically and mentally). Surround yourself with anything that’s reminds you of your end goal, such as your vision board, pictures of others who have achieved the same goal, objects that represent the goal, etc. For example, one of my clients has a goal to get a Cadillac one day, so he bought a small toy Cadillac model from Walmart which he puts in front of his desk. That’s environmental reinforcement at work and it’s very effective because it’s effortless on your part.
7. Follow the path of highest enjoyment
One of the easiest and most effortless ways to complete your projects is to be flexible in your project management approach. In Steps #2 and #3, I mentioned creating an outline of what needs to be done, section by section, step by step. Now, most people will finish the tasks in sequential order. Task 1 comes first, followed by Task 2, then Task 3, etc. Sounds straight forward and easy, doesn’t it?
I did this for a long time until I realized it wasn’t the most effective method. For example, some days I would feel like doing Task 3, but if I follow the project timeline, I had to do Task 1 before I could get to Task 2 then 3. The thought of having to do 1 and 2 first was a downer. This would slow down the project… eventually reaching a halt because it stopped being fun. Working on the goal felt like a hollow activity.
On the other hand, when I give myself flexibility over what to do (while maintaining within the confines of the project), working on the project becomes like a big adventure.
There will be times when Tasks will be completed out of order. So what? Don’t beat yourself up over it.
This approach makes me feel like I’m in a candy store and I get to pick whatever candy I want. It excites me because there’s an element of choice. I also give myself freedom to drop a particular task, move to another one, and come back when I feel like working on it again. Essentially, as long as I’m working on the goal, I’m progressing. So, it doesn’t matter whether there’s something that’s not completed – it’s just temporary. And because I’m excited about it, ideas flow readily and I work faster too.
I refer to this as the path of highest enjoyment – doing what makes you feel happiest at the moment. When you do so, you automatically become productive in your work. Try this out and see how it works for you.
8. Track your progress
Tracking your progress helps you understand how you’re doing and gives you a target to reach. This makes it easier to keep up with your momentum. Create a project sheet that records your targets and your current status. Specify key performance indicators (KPIs) that you want to achieve. If your goal is to lose weight, your KPIs will invariably be your weight, your fat percentage, and perhaps your performance during your exercise sessions (example – the distance covered in 30 minutes, how many weights you lifted, and the like). If your goal is to start a business, your KPIs may be your weekly customers, revenue and net income.
Every week, review your progress. What % of your end goal have you achieved? Is it on track against your target? Why or why not? What are the key things to do next? What is your target for the next week? Tracking makes you accountable to your goal and helps you to stay on track.
9. Celebrate what you’ve done so far
Sometimes we get discouraged with all the things that need to be done. It seems like no matter how much time we spend, it’s impossible to finish it. The amount of work overwhelms us and we opt out halfway.
Here’s the thing – Everything you’ve done so far IS an accomplishment! Many of us tend to emphasize on the last finishing task as the most important task, but really, all that you’ve done and what you’re doing now contributes toward the final product. So celebrate it. Give yourself a huge pat on the back and a big bear hug. Celebrate the process, the resting, the doing, the completion, everything. Take the opportunity to recharge and regroup. When you’re ready, continue on to with what you’re doing. You’re really doing a fantastic job.
10. Don’t force it if it’s really not working out
Sometimes, it just happens that you lose interest in the goal. It happens, and it’s normal. We change, our interests change, and we get new ideas and inspiration the whole time. Some people may feel it’s a waste of their efforts if they do something and don’t complete it, so they push themselves to go on.
Personally, I think it depends on the situation. I think whatever efforts you’ve put into the situation is already a sunk cost, and it shouldn’t factor into your decision of whether to continue doing it or not. The things that should influence your decision are (1) the benefits you will reap (2) the costs involved (future time, effort, resources that are needed). If it’s really not working out for you, then I recommend you drop it and move on to the next thing. Spending more time (and energy) on it is just a big waste. Considering you have no desire to do it anymore, you’re expending a lot of energy just to overcome that resistance! Think of it as dragging a car up a hill. For all that energy you spend battling your resistance, you can already use it constructively on something else.
It might seem like a big waste dropping all that’s done, but it’s not big of a deal. You are creatively capable of achieving a lot more than you realize. What you’ve done so far is just a small speck of what you can achieve. Trying to hold on to what you’ve done just prevents more goodness from coming your way.
Give yourself the permission to drop what you’re doing if it’s not working out, and you might just find many new things coming your way straight after that.
Of course, don’t just start dropping every single thing you’re doing now just because you lose interest. It’s a benefits vs. costs equation. If it’s almost done (99% completion), and the benefits from pushing through that final 1% far outweigh the costs, then go ahead and get it done. It’s a judgment call that you make from weighing out the benefits and costs.
Apply the Tips
Review the 10 tips above – How can you apply these tips in the project you’re currently working on? Write down your answers and start acting on them.
Bookmark this blog entry because it’ll come in handy in the future. When you’re starting on a new project, use this list as a guide. If you feel burnt out mid-way, apply the tips and it’ll help you to swing forward.