5 Secrets to Effective Follow Through

Follow Through Finish

True confession: I’ve struggled to follow through and see projects to their completion.

Tucked away in a box is a dress I started that ultimately got too frustrating to finish. That dress was a maternity dress and I haven’t been pregnant for 25 years!

I’m embarrassed to say that I was very jazzed about a certain quilt pattern I found. I purchased the fabric, cut it all out – even completed half a dozen squares or more. Today that unfinished quilt is stored in my basement with my unfinished dress!

It’s not only sewing projects that don’t get done, although I do have fabric for drapes that were to go in my office in our last house that never got made. We moved almost six years ago. Yikes!  No, there’s more! I’ve let years and years of pictures accumulate that need to be put into photo albums. My hope was to jump on the scrap-booking bandwagon and tackle those mounting photos to preserve our cherished memories. I still want to do that!

At the time I started the dress and the quilt money was tight; very tight! Not finishing those projects was like throwing money and time away. Ugh!

Why am I sharing my messy unfinishedness with you? In the same way, leaders often fail to follow through in ways that are more detrimental than any of my unfinished projects.

Follow through is about seeing a task through to completion. Follow up is about communicating with others. Sometimes follow through includes following up – a little confusing, I know! Both build trust! Both are critical when it comes to delegating, training, on-boarding, hiring, networking, meetings, and more!

Unfortunately, a lack of following through results in all sorts of unfortunate outcomes like…

  • Damaged trust
  • Wasted time and energy
  • Frustration
  • Problems that could have been avoided
  • Lost opportunities or sales
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Unfinished projects
  • Untapped potential

My guess is you would like to avoid negative outcomes! If you want to master following through, you will have to adopt some fresh habits! There’s hope! Here’s how to get started:

1. Limit Yourself

I’m a passionate gal! I have an abundance of ideas and limited time. Before beginning anything, I need to make sure it is the right option for me. Will this idea or project further my goals? Is it in keeping with my values? Is it in line with my priorities? Do I have the capacity to complete this now?

I need to make sure I am capable of carrying this concept to completion BEFORE I start it.

2. Stop Expecting It To Be Easy

Ideas are exhilarating, but the process of birthing those ideas (projects, businesses, etc.) is HARD! You will want to give up like I did in my sewing projects. It won’t always be fun, yet success requires sticking with it and following it through all the way to the end! Depending on the project that might be a very long time – more like a marathon than a sprint! Or more like a quilt than a quick mending project.

Be persistent and consistent, but don’t push yourself too hard too fast. That’s a set up for burnout not finishing.

3. Practice!

It takes doing something over and over again to develop a new habit. Following through is not different. Kick things off with something small – don’t start with attempting to change the world. Start practicing today. If you start writing an email, keep at it until its done. After a meeting, immediately tackle anything you agreed to do in the meeting. I don’t mean begin executing necessarily, although you might, but at least getting deadlines, making a plan etc. so that you don’t drop the ball. Become more aware of how often you skip from one task to another without finishing them.

Now sometimes “finishing a task” means working on it for a designated time or getting to a particular point before you start another task rather than fully completing it. For example, right now I am going through an online course. Rather than finish the course in one sitting, which would be impossible, I am working my way through two units at a time. It’s surprising how quickly these kinds of efforts add up!

Be consistent. Keep practicing and exercising your follow through muscles! I promise it will pay off.

4. Don’t Give Yourself An Out!

Follow through is often easier when you are completing a task for someone else, but when it comes to something you want to see done it’s a different story. If it survived step #1 it’s worth following through on! Keep all of your promises – even the ones you make to yourself.

What are some tasks that often get left in the dust? Organizing, follow up, planning, strategizing, networking, and ___________.

5. Ask For Help!

God is just waiting for you to ask for His help! He wants to help you follow through in big and small ways!

Asking others to help you – that might be even harder for you! Are you one to chronically leave projects, tasks, goals, etc. unfinished? Get help! A coach can help you unravel the mindsets that are holding you back and help you create a strategy so that you can become a solid finisher!

So often I see leaders, professionals, or entrepreneurs who are gun-ho and on fire, but fizzle even when what they set out to do was something that God planted in their hearts. Honestly, I think we all face moments where we want to give up. I know I do! The truth is that it takes serious follow through to see something to fruition! It’s a journey; a learning adventure!

Lest you think I am an utter failure when it comes to completing projects, I want you to know I’ve managed to sew custom stockings for my growing family, including six new additions in the last few  years, I’ve successfully completed valances for all four of my sun room windows, and created two works of art for my new home! Trust me, I’ve gotten better about finishing what I start and who knows, I may surprise everyone and tackle those long unfinished projects I previously shared with you!

Maybe you follow through quite nicely most of the time, but you can’t seem to squeeze in time to organize. Or perhaps you follow through like a beast on the little stuff, but let the big stuff slip through the cracks. Do you use up all your follow through energy at work and there’s no energy left for it at home? Or maybe your follow through like a champ at home but can’t seem to make it happen at work. Because you are an integrated person, your personal life affects your work and vice versa.

Where do you struggle to follow through?

© Can Stock Photo / curvabezier

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

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