F is for Finishing


Finishing is a key skill in life. “Flow, focus, finish and, as a by-product, find fulfilment,” is the motto.

Sounds easy in theory, but how does it work in practice? How can you, for example, complete a book, perform well to the final whistle or finish a project successfully? Let’s explore some ideas for finishing.

Clarifying your successful
pattern for finishing

Everybody has a successful pattern for finishing. So how can they find it? One approach is for a person to look back on their life and describe something they have finished successfully.

What did they do right then? What were the principles they followed? How did they translate these into action? One person said, for example:

“Five years ago I finally completed work on refurbishing the ‘Granny annexe’ at our house, something I had delayed for years. I followed certain steps to make this happen.

“First, I decided whether or not I wanted to do it. Certainly I could have hired a local builder – which would have freed up time – but I chose to finish it myself.

“Second, I set aside time to do the job, booking long weekends over a period of 12 months. I ring-fenced this time, rather than allowing it to become cluttered by other events.

“Third, I established a working ritual, starting on Friday morning, working all day and most of Saturday, then allocating the rest of the weekend to the family.

“Fourth, I made it as pleasurable as possible, playing my favourite music, listening to the radio and having frequent coffee breaks.

“Fifth, I followed the discipline and kept working until it was finished.

“Now my teenage kids have moved into that part of the house. Granny may need to wait for a while, but she is happy where she lives at the moment.”

If you wish, try tackling the following exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe three specific times when you finished something successfully. Describe the specific things you did right to finish each of these things.

Describe any common principles you followed to finish things successfully.

Describe how you can follow some of these principles – plus maybe add other skills – to finish things successfully in the future.

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Choosing something
you want to finish

Looking into the future, can you think of something you want to finish? You may want to write an article, launch a web site, renovate a house or whatever.

Be selective to be effective. It’s impossible to complete everything in life. So sometimes, providing you accept the consequences, it can be okay to say: “I don’t want to finish it.”

If you wish, try completing the following exercise.

Describe the specific thing you want to finish.

Describe the pluses and minuses involved in finishing it. Whilst it will be important to accept the total package involved, it can be good to build on the pluses and minimise the minuses.

Describe the extent to which you are serious about finishing it. Do this on a scale 0 – 10. Make sure it is a minimum of 8+/10.

Describe the key strategies you can follow to give yourself the greatest chance of success. If appropriate, you may want to follow elements of your successful pattern for finishing.

Describe your concrete action plan for finishing it successfully.

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Following your successful pattern and
then being able to flow, focus and finish

How to set about the task? One approach is to set aside time to finish, otherwise it is destined to fail.

It can also be useful to divide the task into reasonable chunks. You can then set a realistic goal for each time period. Reaching this will give a sense of achievement.

The next step is to do what you know works for finishing. It is quite possible for an individual to build on their successful patterns, but it can sometimes be harder for a team. One football manager said:

“One of the toughest challenges I faced was getting my players to finish games properly.

“Many were extremely talented but had a habit of falling at the final hurdle. Frequently they got ahead in games, only to collapse in the last 15 minutes.

“Going into a state of paralysis, they began looking at the clock.

“They retreated into their half and kicked the ball anywhere, rather than continue playing football.

“They had to keep doing the basics. They had to win the ball, pass and keep moving, rather than freeze.

“The key was psychological. People needed to play the positive game – plus some of the percentage game – rather than lapse into the paralysis game.

“They later got into the habit of winning matches by playing football for 100 minutes, rather than for 75 and then watching the clock.

“The players became good finishers and went on to win trophies.”

You will have your own way of finishing, but here are some suggestions. It can be useful:

To do the right things in the right way every day.

To make good use of your prime times – the times when you have most energy.

To encourage yourself on the journey. For example, to eat properly and also surround yourself with positive things – people, music or whatever.

To, when hitting difficulties, lift your eyes to focus on the picture of success.

To keep working hard – then flow, focus and finish.

Finishing is just another name for beginning. Soon it will be time to find another challenge to tackle, another dream to pursue. You can then again follow your successful pattern for finishing.

Here is the final exercise on this theme. Bearing in mind the thing you want to complete, describe how you can flow, focus and finish.

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