How to Finish What You Start

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Give yourself the gift of done.

jon acuff finish kindle hardcover

I love this guy!

That’s the realization I came to before finishing even the first chapter of “Finish” – the latest book by Jon Acuff.

Maybe I should have read his earlier book “Start” first, but hey, I’ve always been a little bit backwards.

Jon has this amazing talent of putting strategies and concepts right down on the bottom shelf where most of us live.

I’ve been on Jon’s email list for a long time, and his content is always short, sweet, and thought provoking. So, I decided to pick up this latest book.

It did not disappoint.

For starters, Jon peppers the book with truly funny pop culture references, in a style not unlike Dave Barry, who in my opinion is probably the best comedy write in modern history.

Style and humor aside, the actual content of this book is spot on and oh so relatable, especially for solopreneurs!

As one would logically deduce from the title, The subject matter has to do with how to finish what you start. As the subtitle reads “Give yourself the gift of done.”

Before we jump into a synopsis of my favorite parts of this book, let’s do a mental exercise together.

Right now, think about three things you have started, but never finished.

If you’re at all like me, the biggest challenge here is limiting yourself to just three.

But think of just three for now.

What are they? Here are mine. 

  1. Unfinished trim in the upstairs bedrooms (2 years)
  2. That vintage Macintosh rebuild sitting on my workbench (8 months)
  3. The giant 2020 wall calendar I bought from a Jon Acuff email promo, still rolled up in the corner (2 months)
unfinished classic macintosh project
Why can't I finish my classic Mac project?

Our lives are full of unfinished business.

Here’s what “Finish” helped me understand:

Perfectionism is enemy #1.

Like so many of us, Jon admits to being addicted to perfectionism.

The biggest lie we tell ourselves when trying to accomplish something is “it only counts if it’s perfect.”

We endeavor to exercise every day or drink on obscene amount of water per week, or sleep a certain number of hours per night, and everything’s great until we miss a day, or fall short a gallon, or have one late night.

“Perfect” just bit the dust.

We tell ourselves that because perfection is no longer on the table, it’s not worth doing.

So we bail. We don’t finish.

Jon talks about “the day after perfect.” This is the day most people quit and give up on their goal.

Truth be told, if we can own the day after perfect, we can own our goal.

Resist the lie that perfection is the only acceptable outcome. Done is better than perfect!

Stop shooting for the moon.

There’s a quote floating around out there that says “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you’ll land among the stars.”

I get it.

This is a nifty quote toted by respectable people. The problem is, when you shoot for the moon, you rarely stay at it long enough to even get off the ground.

Getting to the moon is really hard.

Most people never even launch.

Jon gives great advice for huge goal setters. Here it is…

Cut your goal in half.

Why set a huge goal?

You won’t be known for goals you set, but for the goals you accomplish.

If you want to learn how to finish what you start, you’ve got to learn to start small.

The best things in life are the result of consistency.

Don’t crush yourself under the weight of an insane goal. Either cut the goal in half, or double the amount of time you give yourself to complete the big goal.

Make it fun.

Often our goals are hard to reach.

Perfectionism tells us that the harder and more miserable something is, the better it must be.

Don’t listen to perfectionism.

If you want to figure out how to finish what you start, find a way to make the journey to the finish line a fun run. It might be something really simple or even really weird.

That’s ok.

As long as you can make it fun!

I’ve been working out and running 3 times a week for about 3 years now. It’s hot. I’m tired. But, a couple years ago I started making an Instagram post after every run with a random photo I take during the run.

I find the strangest things on those early morning trails, and I love adding 3 new photos every week.

Now that’s not the sole motivator for my running habit, but I enjoy making those posts. And I can’t make the post unless I do the run. It helps!

Strangest thing I’ve seen on the trail so far?

A severed mannequin head with full face paint.

nike trail run mannequin head
There's crazy on them trails.

If you’re bored, check out @jeremygolds sometime.

Bottom line is this: if you can find a way to make the road to “finish” enjoyable, you’re way more likely to succeed!

Maybe it’s a favorite podcast you only listen to while working on your goal.

Maybe it’s a food or drink reward when you put in the reps. Do what works for you, but make it fun!

Don’t be afraid to finish.

This sounds like a no-brainer.

“Of course, I’m not afraid to finish, Jeremy. That’s the whole reason I started!”

Jon gives some great insights toward the end of the book that helped me understand that the fear of finishing is a real thing.

Sometimes we don’t want to finish because we’re afraid of what comes next.

Maybe the finished product won’t be everything we envisioned when we started.

Maybe people won’t be impressed.

Perhaps if we finish this thing, others will have even higher expectations of us next time.

These emotions are real.

If we don’t finish, at least we can control outcomes and embrace the martyr syndrome of “self-sacrifice” (putting our dreams on hold for kids, spouse, life events, etc).

Conclusion

“Finish” is a fantastic book that is funny, real, and highly practical.

I can’t recommend it enough for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and really anyone with a pulse.

If you’ve ever started something and failed to finish it (I’m looking at you, everyone) then this book is gold!

Jon will teach you how to finish what you start.

Now, I’m getting out to the garage to knock out that Macintosh project…

PROS:

  • Jon Acuff’s humor is on point
  • Very relatable content
  • Highly practical and actionable

CONS:

  • Can’t think of even one. Read the book!

Overall Solopreneur Impact

5 star rating

5 Star Solopreneur Impact

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