Finish What You Start

Today is Wednesday, so this post is on outstanding performance.

I am on David Rayner’s Success Theory weekly tip mailing list.  You can get on it too by going to  Monday’s tip was on finishing tasks.

THE TIP: Finishing Tasks

Half-finished projects are a great hallmark of unsuccessful people. Sometimes people have put in vast amounts of work, nearly finished and somehow let their project become dormant. Not only is this a great waste of effort and energy, but unfinished projects actually carry on draining you with guilt feelings. There seems to be some enormous psychological barrier to restarting cold projects. There is a trick which is related to the half-job trick, decide what is the smallest easiest step you can take to revive the project, decide on it, decide what reward you will give yourself should succeed. Then take a deep breathe and do it.


Identify your dormant projects, and decide which to kill off and which should be resuscitated.  Be brutal when you make this decision.


The way to achieve inner peace is to finish off all the things you have started

This is some great common sense advice.  I often start large projects at the end of the day, because when I return to them the next morning, I have some momentum going.  David is suggesting something similar here.  Basically, he’s saying – “do something”.  I agree, action is a great cure for the anxiety caused by unfinished projects.

I lived with the type of anxiety David discusses for five years.  In January of 1983, I left Harvard to take a job.  I had finished my course work and qualifying paper at Harvard at this time.  I needed to write my dissertation to get my EdD.  I knew I would be procrastinating for the first year as I would be settling in to my new job.  One year dragged into two, then three, then four. 

Finally, the urge to finish what I started overcame all of my reasons for not finishing.  I took a small step – getting my dissertation proposal approved and then went for it.  It was a grueling year – balancing work and research and writing.  But I can still remember the tremendous feeling of relief I felt when my advisor called me to say that the committee had approved the revisions to my dissertation and that they were recommending that I receive my degree.  In other words, I was done.  I had to wait several months until the degree was conferred at a regularly scheduled commencement – but for all intents and purposes, I was now Dr. Bilanich.  Interestingly enough, I never refer to myself that way – but I still cherish the feeling of accomplishment I had that day in my office on 42nd Street in Manhattan.

The common sense point here – finish what you start.  You’ll become known as a high performer.  And, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from not having a lot of unfinished business hanging over your head.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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