10/23/2014 09:25 am ET Updated Dec 23, 2014

How to Finish What You Start

Don't you love it when you get a GREAT idea? You get so excited and hit the ground running to make the idea come to life. You can see it so clearly!

This is gonna be IT!

You're working on the project relentlessly and with so much gusto you can barely sleep. But eventually something shifts. Sometimes you lose steam because of lack of accountability or support, but sometimes it's because you slowly lose interest.

Mmm, yes. Has this ever happened to you?

Maybe you come up with a new "better" idea that totally takes over your whole vision. You convince yourself that the original idea is not worth your time anymore, at least not right now. I mean... after all, this new idea is really going to be IT this time and it's just sooo much better than the first one.

You get excited. You can already see it. It's gonna be so amazing. And soon enough, you are so enveloped by this beautiful intense creative energy that you want to do nothing but work on it day in and day out. Ahhh, yes. The sweet feeling of making stuff happen.

If you're a creative entrepreneur, you might relate to this honeymoon stage of your "new idea love affair." I like using this metaphor because when you really think about it - starting a new project is like falling in lust. It's exciting, emotionally and energetically arousing, and it's infused with that giddy feeling of novelty (aka "that shiny new thing"). If we're really excited, we might even get obsessive about the project and want to do it 24/7. In those beginning stages, we may be so blinded by the excitement and novelty that we often don't pay much attention to potential negatives, obstacles, or challenges we may soon have to deal with.

But then after a while, reality hits and we come back down to planet Earth. We might have no accountability or support to fall back on to finish the project or maybe we just lose interest and start something new instead. It's hard to know how to finish what you start when it's so common you barely notice it's happening.

I can relate to this so much. It seemed like a recurring theme for my life.

When I was a kid, I liked to draw comic books and come up with my own characters and story lines. I was a very creative child. I felt that powerful, beautifully creative, flowing energy cursing through my body so much that I was not able to keep up with it sometimes. I had idea after idea and they were all great! I wanted to do them all!

I drew so much that my mom was getting frustrated with having to buy me new notebooks to draw in all the time (haha, seriously, she just told me this!). The thing is - I started a bucketful of comic books, short stories, songs, even mini-video series but I never truly finished any of them.
I'd get bored halfway through and come up with a new, better, shinier idea that captured my attention instead. And being the go-getter that I am, I went toward that new idea with full force, the old concept dissolving into thin air as if it never existed. After all, this new idea was better right?

You might already imagine what would happen next -- halfway through finishing the first booklet of supernatural romantic trilogy, I got a new idea: The main character shouldn't be a girl who falls in love with her savior anymore, it's going to be a girl who saves the world and finds her long-lost sister instead. Genius! So I went ahead to do that one instead. I had a dream of publishing a comic book series and I was gonna do it, damnit!

Clearly never happened.
Let me fast forward to today really quick.

I've created and finished several versions of websites for my healthy living blog, my photography website, and various others. I've written hundreds of articles, done numerous conceptual photo series and creative concepts, finished a stop motion music video I was planning to do for a very long time.

Although the motivation may sometimes go up and down, I now have the tools necessary to move through the mental blocks that may come up, so I can finish strong on each project I start, knowing that it will get me that much closer to my overall vision.

  • There's that heart-warming satisfaction in having finished a project.
  • There's that joy of knowing you've completed something you promised yourself you would.
  • There's that immense sense of pride for having followed through and actually done it!

Those are amazing feelings and I want you to feel that too with your own business! It's time you move it forward in your business and actually finish what you start, especially when you know, deep inside, that it's aligned with your vision and mission in the world.

How to finish what you start in 5 easy steps
Alright, so you got that magical idea and you're buzzing with energy to make it happen. BUT before you jump head in first, let me take you through some things to make sure you spend your valuable time on something you can actually finish.

1. Become aware of your patterns
Do you find yourself starting and stopping projects a lot (like I did)? Before you go down that rabbit-hole again, I want you to spend some time to bring awareness to your patterns. Write down all the projects, books, and ideas you started on but never finished. Try to remember what happened around the time you decided to put it off and why. Do you see any patterns?

2. Why are you doing this?
Before you dive into that new idea, take a little while to ask yourself why you are doing this. Are you actually passionate about the topic or are you simply doing it because, eh, why not? What do you think accomplishing this project is going to do for you? Spend some time thinking about this and decide where this is coming from before you waste time on doing it only to stop halfway yet again. If you are really feeling strongly and passionately about this, move forward.

3. Connect with your purpose and motivation from within
To piggy back off the previous point, you also have to make sure that you are mostly driven by intrinsic motivation, or the motivation that comes from within rather than being influenced by the external world. If you are driven by just money, fame, or validation, or anything else that relies on the external world or a superficial promise, you might get disappointed and frustrated when things don't go as planned. Or that you don't get to your goal as quickly as you thought you would (and you know what might happen when this occurs...)

However, if you are driven by intrinsic motivation, you are doing this because it is giving you personal satisfaction and you know that the project is connected to your overall vision and purpose in life, you are then more likely to actually enjoy the entire process, no matter how tedious it could get. Then, if things don't go as planned, you won't get frantic, but you'll use your resourcefulness to find solutions and continue moving forward to get it completed.

4. Research and be realistic
If the idea is something new to you, research to find out what goes along with the process. Trying to write a book? Figure out what you need to do, how long it might take, the process that goes along with it, and anything else you might have to do. Be realistic. You won't be able to be the first person to write a book and publish the first draft. Ask some people around who have done it in the past and learn on their mistakes. Set realistic expectations and you won't set yourself up for failure or disappointment.

5. Make a timeline and action plan
Remember the SMART goals, make a plan of action and make your goals realistic and achievable. Get some support and accountability to make sure you don't get stuck behind mental hurdles. Create a timeline for when you think each step will need to be achieved. Specify what resources or time you need to allocate and get to work.

Kamila Gornia works with passion-driven businesses to create an authentic presence online through specific marketing strategies and mindset support. This post originally appeared on her blog.