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Are you one of those people who start tons but finish only a teeny bit? That doesn’t do tons for your career or reputation. This week, Faithful on the Clock provides 9 tips to complete more of what’s on your plate.
2) Getting people around you to hold you accountable
3) Getting organized
4) Putting projects and their specific steps on your calendar
5) Evaluating the impact and motivation of the work
6) Giving yourself appropriate rewards
7) Doing your homework to understand what’s really involved in the work before starting
8) Evaluating your patterns and identifying what’s likely to make you hold back
9) Telling your inner critic to be quiet
Following-through is important because it contributes to your career when you can accomplish more of what you set out to do. But it’s critical for building a reputation of integrity, and it demonstrates respect and your personal values along the way.
Identify the top three projects you would like to complete within the next week, month, and six months.
Go through the tips list for each of your top projects.
What’s coming up next:
Got some behaviors you know aren’t so great and want to change? Episode 51 of Faithful on the Clock highlights the two biggest things to do when you need to improve or pivot.
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Well, hello, listeners, you’ve tuned into episode 50 of Faithful on the Clock, the podcast where, every week, I go all in to get your faith and work aligned. In today’s show, we’re talking about follow-through. How in the world do you make sure that you reach the finish line on all those projects you’ve got in motion so you really can be successful? I’ll give you nine tips by the time we’re done, but if you want ‘em all, well, you gotta follow through and keep on listening.
Ok, everybody, we’ve got a lot to get through and I don’t want to take too much time out of your day here, but I will just let you know, if anybody knows what it’s like to have to get it together to, you know, seal the deal, it’s me. I don’t know if you know the Muppets character, Beaker. But he’s just this little lab guy, and he never really talks, but at one point he’s just in the lab and there’s a fire, and he’s like, trying to put it out. And so I describe myself to people that way all the time. I am Beaker, I constantly am trying to put out one project fire after another, and I always want to do all the things. So this show, it’s for you Beaker professionals out there, everybody who just needs to simmer down and figure out how to cook all your projects all the way through without burning the lab down. That’s hopefully gonna build up some accomplishments for you that’ll help your career. And I actually talked about this list in an article for Inc a few years back, so I’ll make sure to give you the link to that in the show notes as a reference, too.
But if you just look at this from the faith perspective, you can ask yourself why God would care that you finish what you start. Well, remember. God is the ultimate planner, right? He started this whole Earth and mankind thing, and He saw all the messes that was gonna bring, and He was working for hundreds and hundreds of years until Christ went to cross to clean things up. He had a plan, He knew all the steps He’d have to take, and in the end, Jesus was able to look up to God and say “It is finished”. And if you are a follower of God, of Christ, then it’s your job to emulate that conviction. That’s why you see in Ecclesiastes 7:8, is says, “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning.” And you’ve got 2 Corinthians 8:11 that says, “So now finish doing it well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have.” And that verse, I love it, because it makes a distinction that just wanting something, that’s not where the real value is. It’s in going out and crossing that finishing line, you know, growing and building and changing things.
But more than any other verse, I want you to keep Philippians 1:6 in your head. That verse says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” And I want you to have that verse so you understand what God’s intent is with you. You know, there are gonna be times where you don’t have a lot of confidence or motivation, not just in your everyday work, but in your faith, too. It takes a long time to develop into spiritual maturity, and even once we’re there, we’re human. We’re gonna doubt and lose confidence in ourselves, and we’re gonna question God on things. But once God starts work, He doesn’t abandon it. He’s going to keep teaching you, supporting you, working on you, and He’s gonna make sure that you get the inheritance He promised you.
So, number one to make sure you follow through is committing to one-to-one trades. And all this means is, you don’t take on another project until you’ve got another one off your plate. And I know that you might say, “Well, Wanda, my schedule’s pretty open, why can’t I just pencil something new in.” You might be able to do that, but I really want you to learn this even if your agenda isn’t full, because eventually it will be, and if you don’t learn to trade out, the temptation will be to just add more and more and more and you’ll end up burned out. I know that better than anybody. So just get in the habit where you wait, because it’ll be protective to you, and it’ll motivate you so you can say, “Hey, you know, the sooner I get done with Project A, the sooner I can move on to Project B that I’m interested in.”
Now, number two, get some accountability people behind you. Tell everybody what your plans are so they can check in on your progress. Because, you know, it’s easy to ditch something if nobody even knows about it. But if you’ve got people who are checking in, you’re gonna feel more obligated to have taken steps forward in that project to have something to show them.
Three, get yourself organized. I’m naturally pretty organized, you know, I’ve got little homes or spots for just about everything in the house. But the idea here is that, if you’ve really got your tools together, then you know once you start there are no excuses. You know, you’ve got everything you need, and you’re gonna be more efficient as you work because you know exactly where all of your tools are.
Four, and this relates to the second and third tips I just mentioned, but get it on your calendar. Whatever you want to finish, pencil it in. Because again, it’s about creating this sense of obligation. Just like getting those accountability buddies, once you’ve got it on the agenda and you’ve laid out exactly when each step has to happen, it’s really easy for the project to feel more doable and real. You know, it doesn’t feel like you can blow it off as easily because it’s actually got a slot of time in your day. And if you feel that commitment and like it’s doable, and if people also can see that calendar to see how you’re doing, you’re much more likely to give things a try, and to keep doing that until you’re over the finish line.
The fifth tip for finishing what you’ve gotta get done is to look at the impact you’ll have and what’s motivating the work. I know a lot of times, I’ve had projects, they looked really, really shiny to me at first. But when I stepped back a little, I had to say, “Hey, I thought this was gonna be pretty awesome, but it’s really not gonna help anybody or make that much of a difference.” And so I learned to try to put things on the agenda that were gonna have an impact beyond just me, things where I knew there was more at stake. And I learned to select things I was intrinsically motivated for, too. That’s a big deal, that the motivation comes from inside of you. Make sure that you’re not just starting a project for someone else, because if you do that, your excitement’s eventually gonna fade and you’re gonna want to quit.
Six, give yourself some rewards. Now, everybody’s different here for what they like, so I can’t tell you, oh, get yourself a massage or take a day off or whatever. But we are all the same in that our brains, they looooove novelty. And every time your brain encounters something new, it releases a chemical called dopamine, which gives you pleasure and keeps you motivated to keep doing your activity. Your brain also releases dopamine when it anticipates a reward. So with those things together, you might find that it feels really good to start new things all the time, because your brain is looking for that novelty. So to counteract that a little, you gotta anticipate that you’re gonna get something for not veering off into the weeds. So just set yourself some milestones and celebrate a little bit along the way. That’ll give you something to look forward to.
Number seven, do your homework. I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten into something–like, I dunno, this podcast for example–and figured out a little too late just how much was involved or what the project was really gonna be like. And a lot of the time, if you run into that situation, you’re gonna bail, because it’s gonna feel like, “Well, this wasn’t what I thought it was gonna be at all, I don’t wanna do this.” So the more you really examine the whole process, everything in terms of time and resources and tools, the less likely it’ll be that you’ll go down that route.
Eighth on the list, look at the patterns you’ve got. Everybody out there, including me, including you, we’ve all got habits around work. I know, for example, you want me to throw a few things and go home, I’m tellin’ you, all you gotta do is add in some unforeseen steps or research. Ugh, I hate it, because it’s like, ugh, this was supposed to be so simple. And I know, too, that I get really nervous when I have to coordinate with other people. So that’s something that makes me want to just stop even when the project’s going well. So I’m working on these hurdles, and I try to tell people, go ahead and if you find yourself not wanting to move forward, jot down exactly what you were doing and how it made you feel. And over time, you can look back at all those notes and say, “Oh, my goodness, I always clam up when there’s anything with math, it just makes me terrified.” Or you know, whatever it is. But once you see the pattern, you can make a plan to deal with those patterns and build new habits that are gonna be beneficial to you.
The last and final tip, and this is a big one, just tell your inner critic to be quiet. I think my inner critic has, you know, one of those bullhorn things, because it can just be so obnoxiously loud all the time. But if you listen to that, you know what happens? You can take all of the incredible talent, all of the amazing traits you’ve got, and the critic just crushes them to dust. And then you just feel incompetent and unworthy, and quite frankly, I don’t know anything that kills motivation faster than feeling like that. And then, it doesn’t matter what the project is, you don’t feel like doing it anymore because you kinda think, “Well, what’s the point? I’m just gonna fail or screw it up, anyway.” So you’ve got to look at what you’ve accomplished a little bit, you’ve gotta get feedback from tons of people to keep perspective, and you’ve absolutely gotta understand and remember that you’re in the image of God, and when He’s with you, you can do anything. And just try to remember that even if you haven’t done something before, you have the capacity to learn and grow and become better. And in the moment, you know, I tell myself that, but I find that doing physical things like yoga or walking, that helps ground me a lot, too, and get past that initial feeling of stress when that inner critic starts yapping.
So that’s gonna wrap up the list. And I just want to put a bow on it by saying, you know, I know the world tells you that you’ve gotta do more and more and more to get ahead. But to me, it’s not about the quantity. It’s about the heart. Because when you follow through, remember, you’re not just saying you can get to the finish line. You’re saying to other people, “I respect you enough to keep my word.” You’re saying, “This project is important. It aligns with what I believe in.” And so when you think about follow-through, don’t just think about the gains it’s gonna get you. Think about the integrity behind it. Think about how it shapes the way people see you, the way it builds trust. Because that is an incredibly precious thing, and I promise you, it’s gonna differentiate you big time.
So let’s take a moment to bow our heads and just pray together. It’s a lot to think about.
Lord, I know we like to think we’ve got a lot on our plates, and a lot of us do. But when Jesus came to this Earth, He had just one job, and following through on that task was more important than anything we could hope to do. When we get weak in our hearts, when we’re not sure or we just lose motivation, remind us that He didn’t quit. Remind us that we need to model that integrity each and every day no matter what’s in front of us to do. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
OK, everybody. Hopefully you can take at least one of these tips and apply it to your job or hobbies, but I’m gonna point you to next week’s show, which is gonna be about changing your behavior. I’ll show you two big ways your environment connects to that. But in the meantime, I want to hear from you! Remember, my goal here is community. So head on over to @FaithfulOTC on Twitter, follow us there so you can reach out and get some encouragement every day, or you can always join our email list at our main page, faithfulontheclock.captivate.fm. I will see you all next week, so hang in there and be blessed.
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast meant to get your Christian faith and work aligned. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.
Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.