My son has started learning soccer and when he went for his first class we went along with him. It was a good Sunday morning with nice cool breeze and bright sunshine. A perfect weekend day to start with a sport. After he started playing with his coach, my wife and me started to walk in the ground where the soccer training was happening. It was a perfect moment for me to spend some time with her, when both of us were alone walking and chatting. You don’t get such time after having children.
While we were taking rounds of the ground, we saw three young boys in the age group 9-10 years playing cricket. All three were playing passionately with each of them having their turns to bat and the other two were fielding and bowling. After we had taken some 10 rounds, we could see all of them getting tired but still not losing the passion. Each one of those boys was sweating badly because they were running a lot but as typical young children would behave, they were joyful whilst playing.
After around 20 rounds when we were passing by them, one of them said – “Yaar ye game to khatam hi nahin ho raha” (Guys, this game is just not getting finished). The boy who was batting said – “Haan yaar isko jeet kar ya haar kar khatam karte hain” (Lets finish this game either by winning or losing). When I heard him say that, I realized what a brilliant statement he made – “Lets finish whatever we have started”.
In our everyday life we do hundreds of activities where we start but not all of them are finished by us. For example, a Sunday morning you may decide to clean up your room that has not been cleaned for a long time. You start but then suddenly you get a call from your friend asking you to go to market with him/her. You do resist by telling him/her you are busy but then he/she convinces you it wont take long and you can finish doing whatever you were, once you are back. That very moment you think that its ok and let me go with him/her, have some fun and then I will finish this job after I am back. Majority of the times you would either come late or even if you come on time, you may not feel like finishing that job. The thought that comes in your mind is –“I will finish it in the evening”. And then that evening never comes and the room is left as it was in the morning.
This happens with all of us. The above example is a very small, daily routine example. Let me take a situation where you would have perhaps thought something more meaningful such as –“learning a sport, say swimming”. You know that swimming is very important and by learning it you would have a very active lifestyle. So you decide to learn swimming and join some classes. Initially you are very excited to join and learn hard. But gradually over a period of time you start getting casual attending your classes or may be miss them because of lack of time due to studies or work. And then starts the process of withdrawal because your brain is now getting used to not going to classes. And then gradually you may leave what you started without properly finishing it.
This situation can happen anywhere – be it your personal or professional life. In our office, we start with a lot of initiatives, some may be related to good office practices or may be making your life better for yourself. We start, we start good but then we don’t finish a lot of times. And this eventually becomes a HABIT.
You may ask a question from me – “Nimish, why is it important to finish what we have started? What would happen even if we don’t finish our tasks, since it’s only us who is watching ourselves and no one else is bothered about our activities”. I think it’s a valid question because if no one is watching you do a particular assignment and if you don’t finish it, then no one would ever come to know about it and we are therefore, not exposed to public humiliation. So, why bother so much?
My answer to your question is – “It may not matter to anyone whether you have finished your job or not, but the only person who feels guilty of not finishing the job is YOU. It is US who feels most of the pain though we may not show it to the outside world, but within we know that we FAILED. And that is where our self-confidence and power starts to decrease. Our self-conscious mind gets to know that we have not achieved our internal target and that starts to demotivate us. Unless we feel good about ourselves, how can we even think of achieving great success? Remember:
“The outer world is a reflection of our inner self. Unless we are happy within, it is unlikely that we would feel happy about the outside world”
Haven’t you experienced joy and satisfaction whenever you completed any task? How do you feel when you are studying and you finish your course. An awesome feeling…right! Similarly, when your boss assigns you a task and you finish it, how do you feel, extremely elated…right! Any task when finished does create a moment of ecstasy. You would have heard me talking in my blogs about the release of chemical - ‘dopamine’ in your body whenever you achieve something. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays very important role in our body and mind and this is linked with matters related to achievement, rewards and recognitions. Whenever we achieve something, whether big or small our brain releases this neurotransmitter that gives our mind and body a KICK. This whole process makes you feel more confident and you start to think about achieving more and more. It’s like the Pepsi ad – “Ye Dil Mange More”.
Reasons for not finishing the tasks
I thought through some of the reasons why we as human beings fail to finish our tasks? Why is it that we don’t finish our own tasks, leave aside the tasks given by anyone else to us? Why do we cheat ourselves? Here are a few reasons I could think of:
1. Absence of clarity
The most important factor to my mind why we fail to complete a task is lack of clarity. If we don’t know why are we doing any activity, how can we even think of completing it? Yes, we might start it because it had to be but then to finish it, there has to be an absolute clarity.
2. No rewards, no motivation
The human mind and body works faster and efficiently if they can see some rewards at the end of the assignment. Once we know there is a reward, we surely try to finish that job to enjoy its reward. In the absence of any gains or rewards, there is a high probability losing interest to finish the job.
3. Distraction Kitty
I define ‘Distraction Kitty’ as a pool of resources distracting you from your goals. This can include anything including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, TV or even people who are in your circle and unable to add any value in your life. All these things and people form your distraction kitty. The more you have in your kitty, the more you are farther from your goals. The less you have in your kitty, the closer you would be to your dreams.
4. Discipline deficiency
The most common but powerful reasons to not finish your jobs are when you are discipline deficient. The deficiency of this powerful characteristic leads the brain to believe that the job or assignment it not important and therefore, our brain and body starts to react accordingly. An undisciplined mind cannot help achieve success in life.
Though, there may be many more reasons for not finishing our tasks, what is more important to me is how do you develop the capability or habit to finish the jobs that you have started. Here, I want to provide some practical tips so that you make your journey to accomplish your goals and projects more successfully and joyfully:
(i) Remove negative thoughts immediately
Whenever you get that urge to not complete your task, immediately try to remove it with something more positive and powerful. Remember the outcome you would achieve and how you would feel once you finish that assignment. The feeling of being happy and contended when the job gets finished is something that should always play in your mind.
(ii) Have a winners mindset
Remember – “Quitters never win and Winners never quit”. If you have to be a winner, you cannot afford to quit in between the job. You will surely face situations that would urge you to quit and just relax, but remember what that young boy playing cricket (mentioned in the first para) said – Lets finish the game. Finishing is very important for developing self confidence.
(iii) Write your Journal to plan
Writing helps you focus on your goals and by writing and then reviewing them on a daily basis you will be able to train your mind to achieve them.
Writing in your journal (http://nimishgoel.com/planner/) helps you plan your day and prioritize your activities. You can read more on how to write a journal here - http://nimishgoel.com/write-journal-or-diary-daily-why-how/
(iv) Celebrate your wins
This is the most important thing that you should surely do. After finishing your task, celebrate your win. You should definitely reward yourself in whatever form you can and give yourself a Pat on the back. Small, small wins will help you achieve bigger results.
I have tested these above methods personally and have found them extremely useful. I am not yet 100% successful in achieving my goals, but my endeavor now is to at least try and do whatever best I can. I have surely move ahead using the above tools, and I am sure even you would.
Wishing you all success and green lights… ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Authored by Nimish Goel (www.nimishgoel.com), a qualified chartered accountant who’s passion is to coach young chartered accountants and aspiring students achieve the best in their life. Nimish used to work with EY and PwC in India and has also worked with KPMG in Europe. He now runs his own consulting company and runs a blog www.nimishgoel.com. He can be reached for any queries and issues on his blog.