Focus Until Finished

I read an article once about people who possess a perfectionist personality. Turns out some of them live for decades in houses mid-way through renovation but never completed. They start projects but never finish the task, often leaving a mess. How can this be? What perfectionist resides in a half-constructed house for decades or lets projects pile up uncompleted ’til they look like a hoarder of half-done work? A person unable to complete a job until they’re convinced it’s perfect, that’s who.

It dawned on me this week that I’ve become that person. (No, my house isn’t in shambles and I’m not typing this article perched atop a heaping mess!)

My problem: I have way too many started, yet uncompleted projects. Convinced I can’t devote time to complete any of them to my satisfaction, they pile up. Then I move onto the next creative challenge, take it halfway to fruition, and abandon it because it can’t be done perfectly.

Any of this sound familiar to you or your business? Eventually you’re waist deep in partially completed projects, overwhelmed, scattered, and stressed.

I took a long walk this morning with, Jack, my yellow Labrador Retriever who doubles as personal consultant. I contemplated my laundry list of started, yet unfinished, work projects. It hit me: In 23 years of running my own business, nobody has ever paid me for something that was partially done.

“Perfect is Nice, But Completed Gets You Paid”

You see, we get paid for production, not necessarily perfection. That’s a difficult concept for some of us to swallow.

In most cases, we just need to finish what we started!
The world doesn’t care if it’s perfect, because almost nothing is.

Perfect is a wonderful goal to set. But most often, finished and an “A-“ beats a conceptualized, scrutinized, overly planned but never completed, “A+.”

So here’s my “Focus to the Finish” plan. It will work for you too.

  1. Create an “On Deck” file for new ideas. None of those initiatives get energy or attention until an existing project is completed.
  2. In addition to the daily business, no more than 3 projects going on at anytime to improve focus.
  3. Sunk cost is sunk cost. That’s an old rule in economics, but it applies here. Some of the projects get abandoned because they weren’t that good. Chuck them and forget about them! It’ll free up space in your head.

Success is usually more a function of discipline than talent. I’m disciplining myself to focus on finishing what I’ve started. I’m saying “no” to new initiatives until existing projects are complete. I encourage you to do the same. Remember, perfect is nice but completed gets you paid!

Damian Mason is business person, speaker, farm owner, and ReInvention expert. Find him at www.damianmason.com