You have clear vision, enthusiasm, and next steps, so you dive in to execute your plan. You even make some progress…quite a lot of progress. In fact, you complete about 80% of the effort necessary to finish the job. “This time will be different,” you declare, “ I will get this done!”
Then the agony of the mundane overcomes you and enduring the tediousness required to follow through stops you from progressing. Or, you feel stress knowing you’ve covered many yards, but you still have to get through the red zone. The nuisance of completion forms inertia too great to surmount and the task remains nearly, but not quite, done. Worse yet, with work abandoned in your draft folder, you have nothing to show for your investment.
If this sounds like you, you may suffer from 80% Syndrome. And if you don’t deal with it, it will cause chaos in your business or your home life. I should know.
I am a reformed Eighty-Percenter married to one in the same. We’re both big-picture thinkers who are scrappy, resourceful, and work well by the seat of our pants. We can handle the fluctuations of entrepreneurship and sit with uncertainty pretty well. As our businesses grew and the kids’ lives got busier, our haphazard approach and lack of follow through caused more arguments and agony than the short term relief of, “I’ll finish it later.” With much grit and discomfort my husband Mitchel and I have learned the skill of completion and now experience the thrill of finishing 100% of a job at hand (I’ll tell you how down below).
Here are a few examples of 80% items I see that harm the progress of financial planners:
- You draft blog articles and review, refine, then rewrite but never actually post because it’s not quite right yet.
- You create a compelling checklist to capture new leads coming to your website but give up when it comes time to find a graphic designer because you don’t know where to look (psst, check out fiverr).
- You launch your checklist on your site but fail to build out even a simple automated email follow-up sequence in Mailchimp to communicate with the new lead. A relationship that starts strong with relevant content falls off quickly as the prospective client forgets who you are when their trigger event occurs, and they are ready to hire a financial advisor.
Work that you fail to complete results in lost time and money accompanied by a heavy dose of regret. The more times you leave jobs undone, the more anxiety you will feel as your To Do list grows longer. Whether you want it to or not, the 20% clutters your mind and eats away at your energy.
So what’s a busy Eighty Percenter to do?
CONFESSION: I still struggle. I feel the incredible urge to close out of this post right now and come back to it later. Alas, I will demonstrate #4 for you.
Follow these 4 Steps to Master the Skill of Completion:
- Be clear on what matters. Clarity brings focus and productivity. Often times we don’t finish a task because we can’t see how it benefits our big picture. Or we take on jobs that don’t support creating what we want; since we have not made our desire clear, we plod along and fail to finish. We undertake efforts that we think we “should do,” rather than ones that serve our bigger vision. When we state what we want, we can see what is worth our effort, and we can reframe the completion struggle as progress toward out desired outcome. Ask yourself a few questions so you understand where to direct your effort:
- What do I want to achieve over the next twelve months?
- How does this initiative take me closer to my goal? If it doesn’t, drop it now and move on.
- On a scale of 1-10, how essential is it to achieving my goal? If it is less than 7, scrap it and focus on the 8, 9, and 10’s first. For more on this topic, read Essentialism by Greg McKeown.
- Elevate your commitment. Schedule and invite prospects to your webinar, announce your social media campaign, promise a 3-part video series. You will complete your task once you have a public commitment and need to deliver.
- Reward yourself. Have you ever given your children iPad time once they finish their homework? Mitchel and I wave the carrot of an episode of whatever show we’re watching at the time (we just finished The Night Of ) to get ourselves to complete tasks.
- Keep your head down. Eliminate distractions and keeping plugging away. Turn off the phone, close your Inbox, plug in some headphones, shut the door. Get the task done.
Put your head down and get it done.
And, then if you have time, you can put away that laundry that’s been folded for a week.