My son looked me with some slight desperation in his eyes last night.
He had gone straight from school to boxing practice, where he jumped speed rope, then hit the heavy bag for an hour. From boxing, he went straight to soccer practice, where he ran around the field doing drills for 90 minutes.
“I have a lot of homework, Mom. I don’t know how I am going to do it all,” he said.
“I know you can do it,” I said. “Remember when I was finishing my books and I had that crazed look in my eyes? I really empathize with you. It can feel so hard when you know you have to get something done, and see the end in sight, but feel overwhelmed by the feeling of ‘almost there.'”
So we worked on some strategies to get him in the zone. He washed his face. He shadow boxed. I gave him some of my best Life Coach Mom inspiration. He cranked up some tunes.
Then he sat down and started working. When he finished the draft of his essay, I stepped in and did the editing, while he moved to math homework.
After 30 minutes or so, he said “I got this mom. You can go to sleep now.”
And he got it done in time to get a full night’s sleep.
The agony of “Almost There”
We all have projects that we just can’t seem to complete. They are big and small.
The newsletter sequence that is 3/4 done.
The book proposal that keeps staring at you from a folder on your desktop (oh, not just me?).
The email you have been meaning to write to a great new prospect.
The ebook that you have written, but can’t seem to find a designer for.
And on and on and on.
The success we want is just there, like a shore you can see from your boat.
So how do we reach it?
Name the parts
List out exactly what needs to get done. Be as specific as possible.
Instead of “write the copy for my website,” break it down to:
-Write 250 words for Home Page
-Write 500 words for Services Page
-Write 250 words for About Page
The more specific you make the tasks, the more clear they will become.
And when you make a list, you can cross things off! That feels great.
I have often shared the story of when I was finishing Escape from Cubicle Nation, and panicking about the deadline. I wrote a list of the chapter titles and taped it to my computer screen, the kitchen backsplash and the wall above my bathtub. As soon as I would finish the draft of a chapter, I would mark it off with a bright highlighter on all my lists. I knew exactly what I had left to write, which kept me focused on the goal.
Remove all non-essential distractions
When you need to get a project across the finish line, you have to be ruthless with your time. Close out other windows on your browser. Cancel all non-essential work. Skip the school open house. Clear the decks so that you can work on your project until it is done.
When a project gets to the place where it is almost done, it needs focus in order to get across the finish line. Thousands of projects stand at 95% done, unable to help anyone.
Call in the reinforcements
It is so tiring and frustrating to be so close to accomplishing a goal, and yet feeling stumped.
This is when you need to call in reinforcements. There are friends, family and mentors who would be happy to help you succeed. But you need to ask!
The other night in our excellent Startup Life Support session run at our Learning Lab by the amazing Isha Cogburn, a participant stated he had the opportunity to apply for a grant, but couldn’t see completing a required video for the application. So those of us at his group table jumped in, scheduled a time to come to his office, then shot and edited the video. He turned in his grant application on Monday, and we are all eagerly awaiting to hear if he got it!
My mantra with my friends and clients is “We all need each other.” When you are doing audacious things in the world, you need partners! When we help each other succeed, we all get free.
Finishing things brings peace
Procrastination coach Christine Li has been teaching some master classes for my Giant Client Magnet program. She has helped me see that actively working on finishing “almost done” projects leads to a feeling of peace and freedom. Procrastination is not a curse or a personality defect, it is a set of addictive behaviors that can be changed.
The world needs the work stuck in your “almost done” project.
Get it done!