You’ve got to know where you want to go if you’re ever going to get there.
The truth is, and one that all productive people must realize and come to terms with, is that there will always be more opportunities than time. There will always be more possibilities than there are hours.
You cannot do everything, you can only do some things. A few things, really. In order to be productive at those few things, you have to say no to the others.
And it’s hard saying no to opportunities and possibilities and obligations and good ideas.
It’s hard to kill the dream-children, it’s hard to say no to a new thing, it’s hard to stay focused.
Or am I the only one who struggles with that?
No, I think not. I think it’s a common problem, this struggle to stay focused and complete instead of bail on a current project for the sparkly new idea that looks so good, so fresh, so much better.
Especially the entrepreneurs. Oh, the entrepreneurs are the worst, because they are the idea people.
But, fellow entrepreneurs, if you don’t learn to say no, and stay focused, you’ll never actually complete anything. And halfway done isn’t the same as done. Not even close.
If you don’t believe me, try making a loaf of bread. Only take it out of the oven halfway through the baking time, then try to slice it and make a sandwich.
Not the same as good, fully baked bread, is it?
Same with that other stuff: the book you want to write, the art you want to create, the business you want to start, the product you want to develop. Halfway done isn’t done. It isn’t even close. You might as well not have started if you don’t finish it, because until you finish it it’s no good for anyone, not even for you. Especially for you.
Because, whether you acknowledge it or not, the undone things haunt you. They suck your energy and make you feel like a failure. It’s one thing to stop something because you’re giving it your best, and you know it’s not working anymore. That’s smart. It’s another entirely to abandon something, halfway done, for no real reason other than you just ran out of…
What is it you run out of?
Energy? Ambition? Money? Time? Friends? Partners? Options? Desire?
I don’t think it’s any of those things. It’s simpler than that. You can run out of time and money and friends and options and still find a way to make things happen. You can run out of energy, that’s nothing new. We’re all out of energy most of the time, hence coffee and Red Bull. You can even run out of desire and keep going, keep doing the work, pushing yourself, taking those steps.
All of those things are subordinate to the one other big thing, which is the reason you started doing this work in the first place.
When you start to consider quitting, here’s what you need to do.
Stop, and go back to the very first day or week of this work. Think about it. Remember. What were you doing? What were you so excited about? Why were you so certain this was great?
Sure, there are the ideas. The products, the services, the money… But it takes more than that to fuel a fire. What fueled you?
What was your reason?
Find it. Grab it. You need it.
If you look at that reason now, and you realize it doesn’t matter to you anymore, then put it all aside. There’s no shame in quitting when you’ve outgrown an idea.
But if you look at the reason and you realize it’s still something important and rare, then keep going. Focus on your reason, cut off the deadweight that’s gotten in between you and your reason, and start moving forward again.
Annie Mueller enjoys creating a personal yet professional voice to render complex topics understandable. Her passion is helping home, small, and micro businesses succeed. Read more about Annie here.