Yesterday, I challenged you to finish something this year. I dared you to jump into Finish Year with me. But how do you pick something to “finish?” What does that even mean? If you’ve got a book you’ve always wanted to write, it’s easy to say “I’ll finish my manuscript this year,” but what if you don’t have a goal like that?
Those are great questions to ask, and the hardest part of Finish Year might be figuring out something worthy to finish.
Here are a few ways to build your Finish List:
1. Start small to build momentum.
On the Dave Ramsey team, we have seen this principle proven millions of times. The excitement of paying off a small debt always creates momentum to work on paying off an even larger debt. Completion is contagious and can serve as a really powerful fuel for the things you want to work on in 2012. One of the biggest lies fear will tell you is that you need to have some epic, 10-year spanning goal to work on and finish before you can even get started. Nonsense. Pick a small dream or goal you can finish in the first week of the year or the first month. Knock it out and build on that momentum.
2. Pick ideas from multiple parts of your life.
Don’t get stuck just looking for ideas you want to finish from any one part of your life. Search through all the main parts: Intellectual, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual. Maybe you want to finish your first marathon or first mile. You could create a goal of “having a more grateful heart” and then work toward that. You could find items from the professional/career part of your life. Don’t limit yourself in looking for things you want to finish. Pick more than one thing. This will help you avoid the crippling temptation to pick the “perfect thing.”
3. Focus on efforts, not results.
In my book Quitter, I talk about how you should measure hustle before you measure hits. That is, you should measure the efforts you put toward finishing something, instead of what happens when you do finish. For example, a friend of mine would like to be married. That’s something he cares a lot about, but I’d never advise him to write “Get married in 2012” on his Finish List. Instead I’d encourage him to write, “Ask 3 girls out.” He can’t control the result of those dates because there are a million factors at play in relationships. But he can control whether he has the courage to ask 3 girls out this year.
You don’t have control over the results, just the efforts you put toward finishing. One of my year-long goals is to finish writing a new book. Notice I didn’t say, “Finish selling 1 million copies of that book.” A recent Vanity Fair article on the publishing industry said, “The fact is, no one has any idea how many copies of a book will sell.” My role is to write an amazing book, do everything I can to help it sell, and hustle as hard as I can. But, ultimately I don’t control whether it will catch on fire and cause the book-buying public to purchase it by the case. Make sure you don’t put the pressure of the results for your Finish List on your back.
4. Make sure it matters.
If you don’t really care about finishing the year with an amazing garden in your backyard, don’t put that on your Finish List. It’s not a “Maybe List.” Brainstorm a huge list of things you want to finish, and then ruthlessly remove the ones that don’t matter to you. Once you’ve narrowed down the list, show it to someone who knows you well. A close friend or a spouse will help you remove any remaining fake things you feel like you “should” finish but don’t really want to finish.
Those are four things I’m thinking about as I work on my Finish List. This Friday, let’s talk about what you’ve put on yours and get ready for helping each other with Finish Year.
Any questions about how to build a Finish List?