“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” ~Jim Rohn

Finishing a project can give you a huge sense of accomplishment. You sit back, smile and admire the finished product in front of you. A sense of satisfaction and inner pride fall over you as you cross that task off of your list. But it isn’t always that easy. Sometimes the excitement of starting a new project wears off after just finishing a step or two. It’s as if the thrill of starting a new goal just fizzles out.

Closure is a very important part of working on a job. Too many open tasks can cause you to feel unfocused. Have you ever sat down at your desk and prepared for work only to feel like you are sitting in fog? Let’s take a look at sharpening your skills to take goals to completion:

Be aware of your open task list. New ideas and plans get us motivated to complete a job. But if you have too many tasks open at one time the old projects can bog you down. Have an open list of projects in a notebook or extra large sticky papers (my personal favorite.) Check against your main project list as you write out your daily goal list. This is a great way to get focused on your plans.

Sometimes a creative mind can sabotage itself with distractions. One trigger for me is thinking of new ideas while I am working on a current goal. I certainly don’t want to shut off the creativity but I also don’t want to get distracted on something completely different either. A trick is to keep the open task list in front of you. Add the creative thought on your list and return to working on the project.

Don’t put it off. Stephen Pressfield talks about procrastination best in his book The War of Art. He says, “Procrastination is the most common manifestation of resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize.” It’s so simple to put off what you can do today until tomorrow. Just with one excuse.

Try this exercise to beat the monster of procrastination. Take out a piece of paper and write down the reasons why you haven’t finished an outstanding job. Do you have all the tools needed to finish? Is your list filled with excuses as to why you can finish this task or are there valid reasons why the job isn’t finished? Now write down the reasons why you still want to finish you project. Get clear about where you are so you can see the finish line.

Check in with your goals.  Once you are clear about your open task list, check to see if your goals are still valid. Honestly evaluate where you are and design the map you’ll take to wrap things up. Break the project down into easier steps, if need be.

Just do it. You have projects and goals lined up and you are ready to accomplish your plans. You have a list, the reasons why you want to complete the goal and now it’s time to take action. Finishing goals with these tips can break the habits of the serial project starter.


For over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives. Lisa specializes in stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.

16 thoughts on “Get Finished: Tips to Combat a Serial Project Starter”

  1. This tip is awesome! "Take out a piece of paper and write down the reasons why you haven’t finished an outstanding job." There are times when I do not even realize why I'm putting something off. Thanks for the tip Lisa!

  2. “Procrastination is the most common manifestation of resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize.” WOW! This really hit home for me! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Oh wow, I knew from your title this article was for me! I have so many open projects…but now I have a plan thanks to you to get a grip!! Ha! Thanks so much!

  4. Great post! two quick additional things:
    1.  Eat the Frog First:  Do the things that cause you the most 'discomfort' first…then you are free to be amazing all day.  Plus the idea of getting rid of the 'frog' is an incredible sense of accomplishment.
    2.  Use a great to-do list manager…then do what it says.  I'm a big fan of the app 'Clear' for the iphone

  5. Oh my you got me.. I start too many things and don't get anything finished..oh the guilt..I am going to apply this approach and see if I can get more projects completed!

  6. I am just like this! I am a driver and not so much of a doer..On any given day I can conjure up lost of ideas and projects..I just need the team to designate to. I am working on this 😉 Great post to keep us on track!

  7. I'd say an inability to finish up a project is a case of prematurely jumping into an idea.  I think it's important to always write down ideas and sleep on them.  Planning before you jump in can be a huge indicator of whether or not you're actually serious about the idea/goal.  Blogging is a good example really — ideas for new blog posts pop in my mind constantly, but as I attempt to sit down and write an outline for some ideas, it's clear they're not ready to be used yet.  So I put them away for a while, and sometimes come back to the ideas later.

  8. "Have you ever sat down at your desk and prepared for work only to feel like you are sitting in fog?" ~~ Why do I feel like you were watching over my shoulder today. This was me almost all day and it's not a nice feeling. Thanks for the tips on how to deal with it.

  9. Lisa, "Just do it" — sometimes easier said than done for me as I try to figure out the
    "just do it" and spend time researching the "how."  Like now the latest is Pinterest. Glad some share about it like our great Kim Garst. Oh, then the fan page.  OMG. Great post.

  10. This is the reason why I cook. Seeing the finished result of a dish, that actually gets enjoyed by myself or my loved ones is incredibly fulfilling.

  11. Love this Lisa as it has come at the perfect time. I'm really needing to get busy with finishing my dissertation for my doctorate and quite honestly, I've been putting it off…but I'm determined to make some headway in the next couple of weeks.  Thanks for the encouragement! 

  12. Great article Lisa, these are really effective tips on getting things done.  I am just starting to win the battle over procrastination, but it sure is a tough one if you are inf the habit of putting things off!  I love theWar of Art, what a great resource for this topic and life in general!

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