Today, I turned 36.
And looking back over the last year of my life, there is a one lesson that stands out from all the things I learned.
I am amazing at starting things.
I start new books, new dreams, new projects, new ideas with an admirable amount of energy, enthusiasm and drive.
That’s another story. Finishing is kind of a drag to me. I think it’s the hardest part of a project. It’s not nearly as fun as starting. Starting is sexy and easy and fireworks over the sky as we celebrate the possibility of where this adventure will lead us!
I hate finishing. I used to be horrible at finishing.
Unfortunately, though, I learned a secret about starting and finishing.
Starting a project doesn’t change the world. Finishing a project changes the world.
Starting the idea of building two kindergartens in Vietnam didn’t change the world. Brainstorming it didn’t. Talking about it with friends didn’t. Dreaming about it didn’t. You know what did?
Starting it was fun. I loved that part of it, but we didn’t get to actually change the world until the school opened. Or in other words, until we finished the project.
Now we get to support the school and the teachers and the kids and start other projects because the school was finished. And that same principle is true of every dream and goal we have.
I knew in the third grade that I wanted to write a book. I didn’t write one for 20 years. In the last two years, I wrote three. What happened? I learned how to finish.
Which brings us to today and the dare that the title of this post warned you about.
I dare you to finish something this year.
This year, let’s finish things. Let’s finish writing our books or our business plans. Let’s finish paying off our debt. Let’s finish losing that extra 10 pounds. Let’s finish saying, “I want to go to Italy someday” and actually go. Let’s finish thinking about volunteering at a local homeless shelter and do it.
Here is what I am proposing:
1. For the next five days, figure out what you want to finish in 2012. (I’ll post tips on how to build a Finish List tomorrow.)
2. On Friday December 23, read my blog post and write a comment with your name and what you want this blog community to encourage you to finish.
3. Every day from January 1 to January 31, you and I will write one tweet or Facebook post about what we’re finishing with the hashtag #FinishYear. It can be an update on your progress or a simple encouragement to other people who are working hard on their finish lists. One of the reasons we were able to finish the Vietnam project is that an online community of people kept each other accountable and encouraged. I’ll post content in January on this site to do my part, and I’m also committed to share on Twitter and Facebook, which will hopefully help you keep moving forward once the January resolution buzz wears off.
That’s it. It’s that simple, but why should you do it?
Because you’re supposed to finish something this year. Something that is important, something that matters, something that is waiting on you. And having an entire blog full of people rooting you on, refusing to let you quit, is going to dramatically increase your chances of succeeding.
There are a million things you can finish. Some might take you all year. Some might take you a month. Some might take you 10 minutes, but they’re 10 minutes you’ve feared for your entire life.
What are you going to finish?
You’ve got 5 days to figure that out.
Because Finish Year is almost here.