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This one simple skill will change your life

How many books have you bought but never finished?

How many projects have you started and left half done?

How many online courses did you begin but never complete?


Some say the hardest step on a long journey is the first, but we say it’s actually every step after that. It’s easy enough to start a project, purchase a book or join an online course. But few people find the willpower, integrity and grit to finish.

Mastering the fine art of finishing is an underrated skill. Here’s why and how to improve.

Who would you hire?

Finishing is also a skill that will boost your career, win respect from your boss and peers and open doors to future opportunities. Think about it. If you were an employer, which high school graduate would you choose for a role?

  • The A+ student who is a natural genius but a bit lazy and sometimes fails to follow through on things that don’t interest them.
  • The B grade student with a reputation for giving it their all and finishing projects they commit to.

Following through on commitments you’ve made is a life skill you can master. Of course, you have to say yes to the right things.

Why don’t we finish things?

“There are many, many reasons. Fear. Fear of embarrassment, fear of failure… We don’t finish things when we’re not passionate or on purpose.”

In his Tedx Talk artist Robert Lee Davis spoke about the art of finishing, changing tracks and learning from what you start. 

“I know that many of my pursuits will be finished and some will not,” he says.
“Either can be okay as long as I continue to regularly and continuously ask myself: Should I be pursuing this? Am I doing this for me or for some other purpose?”

To finish, you need to say no

Tedx Speaker Conor Neill from IESE Business School echos the same sentiment. The discipline of finishing means saying “no” to most things. 

He speaks about investing and the three criteria he uses to judge an opportunity or person. One of those criteria is integrity, which Conor describes as the “alignment between what your calendar says you do and what you say you do”.

“If you say yes to most requests…. your life has been divided into thousands of little pieces and spread amongst the priorities of other people. 
“To live an integral life true to your own values means that you say no very often.”

 RELATED BLOG: 10 things they should teach you at high school but don't

Tips to help finish what you start


Don’t start what you can’t – or don’t want to – finish

That’s right, finishing requires passion and purpose, or at the very least some internal motivation. 

Have a goal in mind

Remember why you started and what the end goal is. What are you trying to achieve by starting? Is it knowledge? Skills?

Prioritise your time

Conor Neill spoke about saying “no” to things so you can say “yes” to yourself. Make time for your personal commitments and goals before saying yes to the priorities of other people. Be sure to also set aside undistracted time to work on finishing that book, project or course. 

Start small

Starting small can help you build on this muscle and improve your self confidence. For example, if you want to take online courses, start with one of our free 40-minute microprograms before committing to the free virtual work experience. You can also start with the smaller tasks on a project.

Chip away at it

Just like Dory in Finding Nemo, if you just keep swimming and chip away at the bigger task you’ll find the strength to pull through.

Perfection is your enemy

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be finished, and if you’re aiming for perfection you might be chipping away at it for a lifetime. Don’t get caught up on small mistakes. In life you are always learning, so take any mistakes in your stride.

Know when to quit

You don’t have to finish what you start. It might feel like the antithesis to this blog, but tune into your intuition and know when to throw in the towel. If you’re working on something and the passion or purpose has disappeared ask yourself: Who am I doing this for? Are you learning to play the piano for yourself or for your parents?

We want to see young people make the leap from high school into rewarding careers that they love. It’s why we’ve crafted a series of totally FREE virtual work experiences and short skill courses to help them find their feet and passion. Want to give one a go? Sign up for free today. Do it for yourself, set a goal to finish and schedule time to get it done 💪



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