Nine tips for finishing projects

Have you heard that it takes 80% of the energy that you'll invest in a project to finish the last 20% of the project? (This is known as the Pareto principle.) As surprising as that sounds, it rings true for me and my experience. Every single time.

I have to admit, I am a fire starter. I'm great at getting things off the ground but it takes more effort and energy for me to maintain them and considerable amounts to bring them to close. In other words: these tips are hard-won. So I sincerely hope you save yourself some of the agony I faced and use them when you need to.

1. Put rewards in place. This one may be the most obvious so you've probably already thought of it, but try thinking about all forms of "rewards": favorite foods, favorite places to visit, favorite ways to wind down, etc. and treat yourself for every inch you make towards your goal.

2. Get others psyched. Whether it's an accountability partner (someone who can cheer you on as you take those baby steps) or a big following on social media, use your network to elevate your excitement levels so you can get through those final hurdles.

3. Use affirmations to stay in a productive state of mind. Always use positive language in the present tense, like "I have a beautiful website that I love to tell others about" or "I am a national speaker changing lives", etc. (It may go without saying that if you catch yourself instead saying negative things or things about who you've been in the past that that's when you most need to put this practice into place.)

4. Put the horse before the cart. Plan thoroughly, adjusting as needed as your plan unfolds, so you aren't worried about obstacles that you'll face down the road and can keep your focus on what lies immediately before you.

5. If you get stuck, try going backwards. I know it's counter-intuitive (and sounds a bit like the opposite of what I just recommended), but if you can try a strategy that is disruptive enough you might have a bit more fun and move things along enjoyably. For example, try reading the last chapter of that lengthy book on the latest scientific research first or eating a cookie before cooking that four-course dinner for your guests.

6. Seek out guides. If you're feeling lost, confused, or really overwhelmed, ask for help. If you're feeling like you're in the muck and you're all alone, look for kindred spirits who can remind you otherwise. Look for those who have already finished and let them light the way.

7. Take it easy. When I don't know where to start, I can always begin with what my kindred spirit SARK calls "micromovements," which are tiny, incremental steps like picking up a pen if I plan to write a long letter or locating one single online resource if I plan to start conducting research. If you're feeling lots of pressure, take the day off. Rest does wonders for our minds and bodies and you'll be able to return to your task refueled and more capable than ever.

8. Go back to the why of it all. If you've been feeling zapped trying to do it all for the fame and glory, think about who you're serving through the project and why they need you to do what you're doing. This simple intention can open the door to the energy that is always conspiring to aid you in your honorable endeavor.

9. Know when to quit. Another application of the Pareto principle is that 20% of your time (or other form of investment) yields 80% of the results. This means simply that lots of our time and efforts are essentially wasted. And that sometimes we just have to let go of an idea who's time has not come yet or who's time has already passed. Letting go makes space for the ideas that are ripe to be realized and it makes space for the ones you are letting go of to evolve as they need to. (You can read more about this in my blog on iteration here.)

So what are you waiting for? There's still time to wrap up (or let go of) those lingering projects before 2016 is through!