Why You Start Projects And Never Finish
Do you find yourself starting projects that you never finish, or setting goals you quickly abandon? This article will show you how to stop procrastinating using two simple rules.
By the end, you'll finally start checking off all the tasks on your massive to-do list.
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Your New Year's Resolutions Are Basically Worthless
How many half-finished projects do you have cluttering up your to-do list? I’m talking about the kind of projects that seemed like a “no-brainer” at the time but somehow fell to the back-burner.
Maybe you came up with a unique business idea that no one else seems to be doing.
Maybe you “started” a new band last year, but haven’t actually practiced together yet.
Maybe you have a dozen half-written songs sitting on a hard drive somewhere. Maybe you have a gym membership that you pay for but never use (thanks, Planet Fatness).
Maybe you’ve been “meaning to” transition your little home recording studio into a full-time endeavor.
Basically, every single unfulfilled New Year’s resolution you ever made would fall under this category.
If this sounds like you in any way, then congratulations. You're the victim of a phenomenon called The Law of Diminishing Intent.
“The longer you wait to do something, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.”
Don’t just let your eyes glaze over that law. Go back and read it again, then let it sink in for a second…
This is something that has KICKED MY ASS over the last 6 years.
It's the reason I only wrote 8 articles on this website's first two years of existence.
It's the reason I've yet to launch my podcast.
It's one of the reasons I never launched Drumtrunk.
It's ultimately the reason my software company failed to achieve any amount of success (and thus has been put on hiatus).
I'm sure you can relate.
Every single one of our half-finished projects are casualties of the Law of Diminishing Intent. They are half-assed attempts at progressing your life. Nothing more than a polite “nod” to progress.
Don’t get me wrong. There is value in attempting new things, stretching your comfort zone, and setting goals. The part where you and I have fallen short is on taking action on these goals.
Action is the one thing that really matters.
Separating The Successful From The Unsuccessful
If you were to boil down the difference between successful and unsuccessful home recording studios to one thing, that one thing would be action.
The successful see a goal or an opportunity and take action immediately.
The unsuccessful say, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
While taking action may be the one thing that will differentiate you from everyone else, it takes a slight shift in mindset to be effective.
The unsuccessful say, “I can’t…“
The successful ask, “How can I…?”
Here are some of the typical excuses I hear from someone struggling…
1. “I can’t afford it.”
2. “I don’t have the time.”
3. “I don’t know how.”
How about changing mindsets from “I can’t” to “How can I?”
1. “How can I afford it?”
Maybe it’s time to take a hard look at your personal spending habits. Maybe it’s time to sell some pointless shit you’ve been holding onto for no apparent reason. Maybe it’s time to actually invest in yourself for a change.
2. “How can I find the time?”
Maybe it’s finally time to “80/20 your life” and start saying “no” to the things that aren’t progressing your life in a positive way. Stop spending so much time browsing Netflix, playing video games, or bitching to your friends about how tough your life is.
3. “How can I learn?”
Maybe it's time to finally read a damn book. It blows my mind how often I see people (almost braggingly) talk about how they “haven't read a book since high school.” If you don't like reading, an audio book will do just fine…
The Right And Wrong Way To Approach A Problem
Most people hit a wall and just give up. You’ve heard this line from a thousand people:
“I want to ______, but I just don’t know ______.”
You can fill in the blank with pretty much anything.
“I want to start a profitable home recording studio, but I don’t know what gear to buy.”
“I want to start a blog, but I don’t know how to use WordPress.”
Instead of making excuses at the first sign of resistance, change your mindset to “how can I?”
“I’m going to start a profitable home recording studio, so I should research which gear is the best for my budget.”
“I’m going to start a blog, so I should watch some tutorial videos on the basics of WordPress.”
Notice how the word “but” isn't in either of those sentences?
How many infomercials have you seen for a product that made you say “I had that idea 5 years ago!”?
The action takers are the people who had the same infomercial idea as you, except they took all the actions necessary to bring the idea to fruition.
These are the people that took action every single morning at the gym to transform their bodies from “fat shit slob” into “DAYUM YOU FINE.”
These are the producers and audio engineers that made the sacrifices necessary to pursue their passions full-time, instead of “waiting until next week” to do _____.
How To Kill Your Dreams
Every time you put something off until tomorrow you might as well put a gun to the head of that dream/passion/goal/idea and pull the trigger.
Procrastination leads to a long list of “I should” or “I need to” or “I wish I” instead of “I’ve done.”
Procrastination leads to stagnation.
Stagnation leads to complacency.
Complacency leads to mediocrity (and type 2 diabetes).
Mediocrity leads to unfulfillment.
And unfulfillment, frankly, leads to a shit life.
Who knew one law about procrastination could be such a Debbie Downer?
How To Stop Procrastinating. Now.
Yeah, I Get It. Life Is Hard. WTF Am I Supposed To Do About It? Let’s talk about how to stop procrastinating, and what you can do to avoid becoming a victim of The Law of Diminishing Intent. Here are 2 simple rules to help:
1. The 48 Hour Rule
You essentially have 48 hours to act on a new goal before it starts to wither and die. This goes for pretty much everything that requires action on your behalf.
If it’s an action or goal that will take more than 48 hours to complete, then make sure you’ve broken down the goal into a list of bite-sized chunks you can tackle in less than 48 hours each.
2. The 2-Minute Rule
If you encounter a task that will take less than 2 minutes, DO IT RIGHT THIS SECOND YOU LAZY S.O.B.
There is nothing worse than cluttering up your to-do list with a bunch of 2-minute tasks. You waste more time writing the task down for “later” than you would actually doing the damn task.
There is also something soul-sucking about having these low-value, unfinished, 2-minute tasks sitting in the back of your mind.
For every second, minute, hour, day, week, and month that goes by, you lose that passion and excitement about doing what you were initially so excited about.
Bonus: Add Accountability Into Your Routine
Of course, adding rules 1 and 2 into your life is easier said than done. To really make a change, you have to establish some form of accountability.
Find that friend who always seems to get shit done. The guy that never procrastinates, never delays, and never makes excuses.
The guy that always takes action as soon as he can.
This is the guy you want to tell all of your intentions to. Let him know that you’ve been struggling with procrastination, and you will be doing “X” every day until “Y” is accomplished.
Make sure he holds you accountable to your plan. Otherwise, you will easily slip back into a routine of complacency.
Simply adding accountability into your life is usually enough to eliminate most of the pointless procrastination. All of your “I should be” tasks will turn into “I'm doing” or “I already did” tasks.
The more people you tell about your plans, the more people can hold you accountable to what you said you’re going to do.
Don't have anyone in your life that can hold you accountable?
If you need a bit of motivation, accountability, or encouragement, I thought I would try something new: Click here to sign up for my accountability mailing list
This is nothing crazy, but I know some of you would benefit from a weekly email to remind/encourage/motivate you in whatever goal you're trying to reach.
If you join that list, I'll just send a short email out each week as sort of a “gentle nudge” to keep you from falling off track. It contains worksheets for you to track your goal progress, as well as a “cheesy quote of the week”.
As always, every one of my emails has an easy 1-click unsubscribe at the bottom. My goal with this blog is not to spam you with a bunch of worthless crap.
“How does this apply to my home recording studio?”
You may wonder what all this has to do with your own studio or mixing struggles. The answer is everything.
The mere awareness that something called “The Law of Diminishing Intent” exists is enough for some people to get off their asses, stop wishing, and start doing.
Applying “The 48 Hour Rule” or “The 2-Minute Rule” to your studio (or life, for that matter) is enough to change the trajectory of your career forever.
This small change can have a major impact on what you will be talking about in a casual conversation with your best friend 5 years from now.
Option 1 – The Procrastinator's life 5 years from now: “Dude, the Tennessee Titans football team looks like trash again this year. I can’t believe they’ve gotten the number 1 draft pick the past 3 out of 5 years. What in the actual hell?”
This is a low-value conversation that ultimately has no lasting impact on anyone’s life (can you even remember who won the Super Bowl 5 years ago?). The Procrastinator has clearly been following the Titans' shitshow during this 5-year span and has little-to-nothing to show for it in his personal life.
Option 2 – The Action-Taker's life 5 years from now: “I’ve been brainstorming ways we can expand our studio. I thought about adding a 2nd control room so my assistants can be working on editing tracks while I’m recording the band in Studio A.”
This is a much more meaningful conversation that shows how much work the “Action Taker” has put in the past 5 years.
As a matter of fact, this is a real conversation I had with my friend Sam Pura, the owner of The Panda Studios.
This guy has been taking action to grow his business for years. He does what he says he’s going to do, and he doesn’t make excuses for anything.
Which would you rather be: A thriving producer with new employees and an ever-expanding studio or a “sports bro” bitching about football with his buddies?
Disclaimer: You can be a “sports bro” and an “action-taker”. I was just using this to illustrate my point. I, too, enjoy fantasy football 🙂
The Five Frogs
I’ll wrap things up with this stupid little riddle:
“If 5 frogs are sitting on a log, and 4 decide to jump off, how many frogs are left?”
Think you have it?
The answer is five. Five frogs remain.
Why five? Because there is a major difference between “deciding” and actually “doing.” Keep that in mind the next time you put off something important in your life.
What Have You Been Putting Off?
Leave a comment below and let me know what major task you've been putting off for “later”. We've all been guilty of this, so don't be shy.
If you need help staying consistent with your goals and projects, don't forget to sign up for my 12 week goal accountability challenge.
This is just something fun I'm trying out where I sent you 1 email each week with some action steps to keep you on track with your goals, as well as a “cheesy quote of the week.” No annoying spam or other BS.