My daughter said something to me last week that changed my whole outlook on goal setting. Her words drove me to ask some serious questions about setting life goals. Why do we start so many projects that eventually just get shelved? How can we do a better job at finishing what we start?
Last week I took our piano apart. We got this free, well-used piano a few years ago. It was a little beaten up and some keys did not play.
My kids had started complaining to their piano teacher that they couldn’t practice properly because of all of the piano’s deficiencies. I was beginning to feel the pressure.
But, we are not in a position to buy a new piano, so I did what I do with any appliance problem now: youtube it.
Youtube has saved us countless amounts of money on repairs. I have successfully tackled our dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer thanks to online tutorials. At first, my wife was skeptical, but now she realizes even old dogs can learn new tricks if they watch enough youtube.
A piano, though, is not a simple appliance. It’s a complicated instrument that has many small, fragile, moving parts—more than I ever realized.
My daughter walked into the dining room where I was working on the dismantled hammers of the piano, and her mouth dropped. (I love that she was upset about not being able to practice!). But, she was pretty annoyed. I tried to assure her I was fixing it and would have it back together in no time.
She looked up at me and said, “You never finish anything!”
Ouch. Right in the heart. She’s never said anything that hurt quite like that.
The reason it stung so much was because her words carried some truth. I do start a lot of things and a lot of things have been left unfinished. I won’t go into a list of all those things here—there might not be enough space—but some have lingered on longer than I intended.
The Hard Part Is The Middle
The problem is, our life goals and projects are easy to start but difficult to finish. We often jump off of new ideas and inspiration by starting a new project with great enthusiasm but as soon as we face difficulty our enthusiasm quickly fades.
It’s in those moments that our commitment to the goal is tested. It’s easy to head out for that first run, or even to show up on race day with thousands of other racers. The hard part is in the middle when you are halfway through a training run and feel like packing it in.
It’s easy to pull apart a piano or a dishwasher, but we are tempted to give up when things get hard.
And especially in our relationships, it’s easy to say words of commitment and start out in life with a partner, but the commitment really shows when we continue working through conflict, sickness, and the pressures that come with work and children.When commitment perseveres through hardship our character is confirmed. Click To Tweet
The Secret To Finishing Your Life Goals
So what are you being tested in today? Are you in the middle of a challenge that is testing your commitment to finish? Have you committed to too many things and realize that you might have to say no to something? Or maybe you’ve said yes to the wrong thing.
Here’s what the most productive people know:The secret to finishing what you start is starting what you finish. Click To Tweet
This means two things:
- You are committed to pushing through those difficult middle parts when enthusiasm has faded.
- It also means that you evaluate carefully the life goals that you commit to in the first place.
Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says,
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.
Some people have great determination but they’ve committed to the wrong things. But how do you know what are the right goals for you?
One process that I’ve found helpful is writing a plan for my life goals. It sounds a bit daunting. And, considering my age, maybe I’m hitting it a bit late. But, it’s a process that has helped me identify my life goals, evaluate what I’m committing to, and say yes to the right things.
One of the most important aspects of writing out your life goals is to write your eulogy. How do you want to be remembered by your partner, your children, your friends, your co-workers? If you want them to speak sincerely about your generosity then that will determine how you live today. If you don’t know where you want to end up, how will you know what to work on today to get there?
But, if you don’t decide where you want to end up, how will you know what to work on today to get there?
Starting what we are going to finish means making our primary goals and commitments our top priority.
When I get to the end of my life I want to be able to look back and say that I finished what I started. What that means for today is that I start what really matters. I’m going to start what I am going to finish and commit to pushing through even when things get tough.
Do you finish what you start? What plans do you care about enough to write down and start pursuing today? How do you discern what is important enough to keep working on? Leave a comment below and share in the conversation.