Finish what you started. From a young age you’ve heard that from parents, teachers, and coaches. It suggests you stick with it; you can do it, and think through your decisions because you can’t always change them. Good lessons to learn.
Some people learned them well – maybe too well – because they feel they always have to finish what they started, no matter the circumstances. Is it good to always finish what you started? I believe the answer is no. I believe there are times when it’s smart to go against your training and not finish what you started.
When you have second thoughts about finishing something you started, answering these questions will help you decide when it’s smart to not finish.
- Why did you start in the first place? What did you want the result to be?
- Do you still want what you wanted when you started?
- What is the cost to continue, and the cost to stop and move in another direction?
- Will continuing your efforts get you what you originally wanted?
If you answered that you still want what you started out wanting, that it’s still possible to obtain, and the price is still worth it, then continue, and finish what you started.
Consider not finishing what you started when:
- you no longer want what you originally wanted
- it costs more to continue than you believe it is worth
- you will never get what you started out wanting with your current plan
Resist the temptation to label yourself a quitter and start justifying not finishing to others and yourself. You’re not quitting – you are making a wise decision because you had the courage to be completely honest and admit to yourself things like:
- you originally wanted safely and security – but now you want to be a risk taker
- you thought you wanted boundless wealth – but found the price is not worth the reward
- you believed this career choice would lead to happiness – it hasn’t and it never will
These decisions are obviously more difficult when they involve other people or already cost you a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money. It’s not unusual to say, “I can’t stop now because I will have wasted all this time, effort and money.” But is it really wasted?
If there’s a lesson you needed to learn through that event, and the only way you could learn it is to invest time, effort and money – if you learn the lesson, then the investment has not been wasted. It’s the price of growth, of progress; it’s the investment we make in ourselves.
Sometimes the only way you can see what’s on the other side of the mountain is to climb the mountain. In addition, sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know till you know it – and knowing it changes everything!
Any decisions you need to rethink? Have the courage to not finish what you started when it’s the smartest decision you can make to achieve your dreams.