I just finished a book titled Finish. It’s coded “new” at my local library which means I can’t renew it. I had been on a wait list for seven weeks just to get the book. So considering all that, I would have felt pretty lame if I hadn’t read it all before it was due back at the library.
The book’s subtitle is “Give Yourself the Gift of Done.” Author Jon Acuff (professional public speaker, blogger, and best-selling author) offers up seven unusual ideas to help us move along our projects, ideas, dreams, diets, and getting-into-shape-for-the-high-school-reunion plans to completion.
Acuff’s writing style is glib and funny and sometimes disguises some really profound thoughts. I’d find myself stopping abruptly and asking, “Wait a minute—what did he say?”
The introduction talks about the inability to finish and ineffective ways to try to prod ourselves along. Acuff says, “It turns out that trying harder isn’t the answer. Admit it, you felt like this book was going to be similar to a Red Bull commercial. I’d give you a few tips, get you motivated, show you how to get the eye of the tiger, and help you do more, more, more! How’s that working out for you? Have any productivity tips, time management tricks, or life hacks helped even a little bit? They haven’t and they won’t.”
Most of his ideas are counterintuitive to what we might consider as steps to being a finisher.
The villain throughout his book is the concept of perfection. If you’ve been a regular reader of mine for very long, you already know that I feel perfection is evil and destructive and should be avoided.
Chapter 5 spoke to me the loudest: Leave Your Hiding Places and Ignore Noble Obstacles. It turns out that the closer we get to finishing something, it’s as though the distractions from hell have been released and are dancing in front of our eyes.
A “hiding place” is anything we focus on instead of our goal. They are unproductive traps.
One of my hiding places is “cleaning up paperwork.”
When I should be focusing on a marketing plan, I keep thinking about my idea folder. Maybe there are marketing ideas there! Of course, once I pull it out, I realize that each idea needs to be fully considered and then tossed if it’s no longer useful. One of the ideas relates to my class handouts.
Yes, I really should take the time to evaluate all of my handouts to make sure they’re still on target. And, hey..what’s that folder? Oh, it’s the stretching exercises I’ve accumulated over five years (but never done). I should go through that and purge the duplicates so that when I’m ready to start stretching, the folder will be perfect.
Ugh. You get the point. I’m not an expert on marketing and so I avoid working on it.
All those years spent in corporate America I was focused. Now that I’m on my own and don’t know everything, I have allowed distractions to take over so I don’t have to think too hard about that.
Thanks, Jon Acuff, for forcing me to face this.
I highly recommend this easy-read-of-a-book, especially if you are a chronic starter of “things” but a rare finisher.
You’ll learn how to spit into Perfection’s eye and laugh about it. Don’t worry. Perfection deserves it.