Only start something if you’re ready to continue it

Kurt.nzPersonal development

The other day I gave my daughter her first taste of chocolate. It took her a while to process the taste, but once she did she didn’t want to stop eating it.

Before then, my wife and I could happily open a bar of chocolate in front of her, eat what we want, and then put it away. Without any fear of harassment or complaining. Now we’re reduced to sneaking away one by one, hiding in the cupboard and quickly eating one or two pieces before going back into the lounge as if nothing happened.

Once my daughter had the taste for chocolate, she’ll never lose that again. She’ll always see it and know she wants it.

That got me thinking, how often do we start things that we don’t actually want to continue?

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad habit like smoking, it can be legitimate pursuits that we’ve started for the wrong reasons.

It could be that duty that you agreed to do out of obligation and now you’re stuck doing it on a continual basis. The longer you do it for, the harder it is to stop.

Most often, it’s not actually you that finds it hard to stop, it’s the pressure from other people. Like the pressure from my daughter with the chocolate.

Like the pressure from your parents when you start studying to be an engineer and then decide to go travelling instead. People like to think of your path as linear. It makes you more predictable and easier to understand. People don’t like change, even if it’s someone else changing.

I love change, change (for the right reasons) is great. But I have learned to make it easier on myself and others by making that change as deliberately as I can. To start something as if I mean to continue it.

There’s no point starting something you already think you might stop. There’s also no point starting something with the view to continuing it later.

I used to have so many unfinished projects that I just couldn’t get around to. Things I’ve started at the wrong time and then had to drop because of other things.

My challenge now is to only start something once I’m ready to focus on it and continue doing or finishing it.

As Derek Sivers proposes. You should either be saying “hell yeah” or “no”. If you’re not super-excited to start it and continue it, you shouldn’t be saying yes to it in the first place.