July 26

Developing the Habit of Seeing Things Through – How To Become a Finisher

If I had to put my finger on one thing that's made the most difference to my life in terms of results, it would be consciously changing from being a chronic quitter to someone who sees things through.

Here's how important it is to me:-

Every day, I fire up Evernote and spend five minutes answering the same three questions:-

  1. What kind of person are you?
  2. Why are you doing what you do?
  3. Where do you want to be by...?

In response to the question "what kind of person are you?" I have a list of 17 items and the third answer on that list is always this:-

"When I make the commitment to do something, I see it through to the very end without fail"

At the time of writing, I have nearly 400 copies of that daily ritual archived.

Why have I carved this identity for myself?  Why is seeing things through so important to me?

Well, there are two main reasons:

  1. I used to suck so badly at seeing things through
  2. I failed at a lot of things because I gave up too soon.
  3. I admire this personality trait

At some point, I realised that when it comes to results getting (creating awesome things, making big changes, building companies, improving yourself, increasing wealth, creating successful web sites, lifting 400lbs in the gym...and so on) I needed to be more fucking patient.

Honestly, I used to have delusional expectations of what kind of commitment is needed to make big results.  I was just so naive.

If I could paint a timeline of my life and list all my successes and failures chronologically, I would almost be able to draw a line at the point when I committed to seeing things through.  Before this point in time would lie a barrage of failures, and after would be mostly successes.

It literally has been that significant for me.  

The value of developing the habit of seeing things through, if you don't already have it, is extreme.  But I've found it to also be one of the hardest things to do and requires a lot of emotional labor.

  • To sit down and write every day for a blog that nobody is reading/cares about/even knows exists for 6 months
  • Training for five years trying to hit a 100kg bench press, but seemingly unable to break through
  • Starting a business from scratch for the fifth time because you've failed with each previous attempt

All these things above are examples of what I mean.  It's just so difficult to get yourself to just keep going in these situations.

But if I hadn't done so, today I wouldn't own a successful web site, have a 130kg personal best on the bench press and be co-founder of a software company.

In hindsight, the decision to follow through and persist was so obviously the right one. But when you're in the trenches, you're having a bad day and you're pushing as hard as you can but nothing's moving it can be difficult to develop that mental toughness and resilience to just keep hacking away.

But...I now consider this a really, really good thing.

You're probably thinking, how can it possibly be good?  

Well, it's good because if you're consciously aware of it, you can put it to your advantage. Allow me to explain..

Anyone can start something.  It's so easy to start 12 projects.  There's no emotional labor, dedication or commitment required.  Having the quality of starting is not valuable.

But how many people do you know that has the ability to mercilessly haul that project through thick and thin over the finish line?

I've literally found a handful of people in my life who can take an ambitious, uncertain project on and see it through to completion.  Time and time again I see that people just lack the ability to persist.

A lot of people can get through the first few weeks or the first month...even the first 3 months or 6 months.  But I've found that after 6 months, you can count the people still standing on one hand.

This makes it a huge opportunity for you.  

If you can figure out how to be more strategic and execute over the longer term, then you're in an elite group of people and you'll be a far more prolific results getter than you are now.  Having the ability to finish what you start is extremely valuable.

The elephant in the room is...how do you do this?   How can you build this kind of resilience and persistence?

Developing the Relentless Bulldog Mindset

I don't have all the answers, but I have experienced a lot of personal growth in this area so would like to share what's worked for me.

I use a combination of things that, when used together, keep me on track with whatever I decide to do. 

Here's the list:-

  1. Create a New Identity
  2. Decide Deliberately
  3. Change your Focus
  4. Make it Habitual
  5. Develop a Growth Mindset
  6. Create your Contingency Plans
  7. Manage your expectations

1. Create a New Identity

I'm talking about the identity that you have for yourself in your head rather than your passport.

What type of person are you? 

Me? I'm the type of person that finishes things.

As humans, we can move mountains in order to live up to the identity that we have for ourselves and even the identity that others have given us.  Identity is a core and unavoidable part of all our lives. Our actions shape our identity, and in turn, our identity shapes our actions.

If you're the smart guy, or you know that other people perceive you as that, you'll be more inclined to play up to that role.  

If you're the fit guy, or you know that other people perceive you as that, you'll be more inclined to hit the gym....because it's what you do.

If you've ever asked someone why they do something, and they've replied with "I don't know, that's just the kind of person I am", then you'll know what I'm talking about. These people have an identity of themselves in their head that drives their behaviors.

How does this relate to seeing things through?

If you want to always see things through to the end then become the type of person that finishes things.

Consider the difference between:-

  1. I have a goal of finishing this project (achievement goal)
  2. I am the type of person that, when I commit to something, I finish it. Without fail. (identity goal)

The difference between the two might seem subtle on the surface, but it has deeper connotations than we might initially think.

First, let's consider the problem of achievement goal setting.  Why is it not effective?

With achievement goals, it's a one or zero proposition.  You've either achieved your goal or you haven't. And let's face it, 99% of the time we are chasing a goal that we haven't reached yet (how long do you spend celebrating and focusing on what you've already achieved?).

When we focus on achievement goals, we reinforce a negative feedback loop.  

  • Despite having worked out for the past three months you're still not fit.  Failure.
  • Despite having worked incredibly hard on your new startup, it's still not successful.  Failure.
  • Despite having taken control of your finances and been frugal, you still don't have enough money to pay for the wedding.  Failure.

When you focus on achievement goals, you're constantly failing and there's no focus or reward for all the positive effort that you're putting in on a daily basis.  

Of course, this has a tendency to devalue all the positive actions that you've been doing, pushes you into negative thinking and makes you more likely to quit.

Contrast the achievement goal setting approach with carving an identity of being a finisher:-

For every day you goes by that you manage to get the work done, you have another piece of evidence that you're a finisher.  

  • I completed my scheduled workout for today.  Success
  • I did a solid four hours of deep work for my new startup today.  Success
  • I ate my homemade lunch today rather than eating in the cantine.  Success

This, in turn, builds a continuous positive feedback loop that feeds off itself.  

You start to become focused on the chain of positive momentum that you've been building up and each day reinforces your identity even further, increasing the likelihood that you'll persevere.  

If you have an off day, it doesn't matter, because you still have this stack of evidence to prove that you're a finisher to offset it.  You just jump back on the horse the next day.

And here's the beautiful part: At some point there's a tipping point.  You've been doing actions to reinforce your identity for so long that just the idea of going against it becomes repulsive to you.

At this point, quitting something wouldn't be about failing a project, but going against the entire value system that you've built for yourself, and would result in a massive hit on your self esteem.  

It would now be more painful for you to quit, than to continue, because quitting would be an attack on who you are as a person.

Seeing things through has become your selling point.  It's your strength.

And then when other people ask you "how do you manage to have such amazing willpower to see things through to the end?"...

you can reply with:- "I don't know, that's just the kind of person I am".

How to Carve the Finisher's Identity for Yourself

Yeah, this all sounds great, McCarthy, but how do you actually do this?

Of course, I'm still trying to figure a lot of this stuff out, so don't take my experience as gospel, however I think it's a combination of two things:-

  1. Advertising to yourself how much of an amazing skill being a finisher is and look for concrete evidence to reinforce this notion
  2. Create small wins, build momentum and don't break the chain.

Let's break these two points down.

1. Advertising the Finisher's Identity to Yourself

This can be quite tricky because it's subjective.  

The advertisements that worked for me, might not work for you.  But, the ultimate goal is to find a mental frame such that you'd be proud to be a finisher.

Here's how it worked for me: 

  • I developed an admiration and respect for people that relentlessly followed through.  For me, there's something honorable in beating away at something incessantly, even in the absence of results, and in spite of adversity.  

    I realised that the type of person who can do that is rare, valuable and honorable. It's a Warrior mentality and it's a personality trait that I highly respect.

  • I built up a ton of evidence to support the notion that high performers were able to see things through relentlessly.  This helped cement the idea it was a vital piece of the jigsaw for living a successful life.
  • Another angle that worked well for me was to use my own ego to my advantage:- I hate the idea of being ordinary and "just like everyone else" and I know that normal/ordinary people aren't able to see things through. If I quit, I become just like everyone else. A powerful repellent for me.

Once I had started to build this mental frame of how much I valued the trait of finishing (and how much I didn't want to be like everyone else), I developed a very strong desire to embody it.  

I wanted to become a finisher in the same way that, for years, teenage kids wanted to be like David Beckham.  

This mental frame might not work well for you, but you should try and find an "advertisement" that gets you going.

  • What do you admire about being someone who relentlessly pushes forward in face of adversity?
  • What aspect of being a finisher would make you proud?

It requires a little bit of conscious introspection, but once you find it, it's extremely powerful.

2. Create Small wins, Build Momentum and don't break the Chain

You've now got a strong desire to be the type of person that finishes things...it's time to get busy.

Your job now is to start to slowly accumulate evidence to support your new identity. Make small victories, build them up over time and keep a running momentum score.

Let's run through what a finisher does:

  1. The type of person that sees things through works on a project to a schedule - every day or every week, for example..
  2. The type of person that sees things through doesn't allow many days where she's missed the schedule to build up.  She jumps back to work quickly after downtime.
  3. The type of person that sees things through doesn't let setbacks, bad news or unforeseen circumstances stop her from taking action.
  4. The type of person that sees things through accepts that she will have bad days but still manages to do at least something on the days that she doesn't feel on top form.
  5. The type of person that produces, creates, publishes, records, launches, ships, releases even though i) their work is not perfect and ii) they are uncomfortable and scared

Now we have a set of guidelines for being a finisher, it's time to translate that into a definite small win for the project that you're working on.

Your small win must be small, easily achievable and focused on activity, rather than the result.  

A bad small win:- "lose 1 pound every week".  (this is an achievement goal)

A good small win:- "Exercise at least 20 minutes three times per week" (better - this goal is focused on identity and action)

Some more examples of good small wins:-

  • If you're working on a book, your small win might be to write for at least 30 minutes every single day.
  • If you're trying to read more, your small win might be to read 2 pages per day
  • If you're building a piece of software your small win might be to code for at least 30 minutes per day
  • If you're creating a new blog, your small win might be to write a blog post for 30 minutes per day.

For my video project, my small win was to get in front of the camera for 30 seconds every single day.  

So, let's continue the example of losing weight.  

Each time you exercise for 20 minutes, you have a small victory.  A small piece of evidence that reinforces your new identity.

This needs to be celebrated and tracked.  So, you arrive home from the gym and put a big green tick on your very public and visual calendar.  (See my video below for more ways to track your progress)

Before long, you start to build up a long, beautiful chain of green ticks.  Each time you glance over at the calendar you're reminded of what type of person you are and of the increasingly long chain of momentum you've built up.

Of course, you psychologically this helps you stay on track.  Nobody wants to break their chain of momentum.  And that's all you focus on - not breaking that chain!

What we're doing here is to train the brain to focus on celebrating the actions and process required to lose weight rather than the result.

2. Decide Deliberately

I'm sure you've experienced the type of thing before where an idea pops into your head, you get really excited, and within a few minutes of fantasizing you've already decided to start a new project. 

Then, of course, three weeks later you get bored with that project and a new idea pops into your head.  So, you abandon everything that you've been doing for the past three weeks to kick off this amazing new project. 

This kind of adhoc careless decision making does not jive with this new identity of being the type of person that finishes things. 

Wreckless decision making can cause all sorts of issues to come to the surface further down the road:-

  • You misunderstood the reality of the situation: The competition is more fierce, it will take more work than you anticipated, it will cost more than you realised... etc.
  • It's not something that you really want to do: it's easy to get excited by the idea of doing things, but often getting down into the trenches is not as much fun.  

    An extreme example:- The idea of learning Thai is great when you think about how you can impress the locals with your new skills while ordering food at the restaurant.  The reality of learning Thai, however, is hundreds of hours of pretty mundane practice get to even just a basic level of ability.  Of course, some people love it, but is that you?
  • You realise you're not fully in alignment: perhaps you spot a business opportunity that can make you some money, but you are not engaged nor proud of what you're doing and don't believe in the value that you're providing.  

Everything you commit to now has serious ramifications to your time and energy. You don't have the time to finish every project that you dream of.  So you need to get better at saying no and choosing your battles.

But, of course, some things that you decide to do might not be that important:  The type of thing where you dabble in something because you're curious or you just want to see what happens.  

How do we reconcile being a finisher with having the freedom to trial things?

Scott Young has an approach I like of having two types of project that you agree to do - commitments and experiments. 

Experiments are things that don't require finishing or commitment, are of less importance and are things that you can stop at any point guilt-free.  By stopping an experiment, you don't sabotage your new finishing identity.

Commitments, on the other hand, are serious.  You don't make decisions about commitments lightly, because you know that once you're committed, you will always finish.

Before taking on a commitment, it's important to think long and hard about what you're taking on.  Here are some guidelines that might help you to make the right decision:-

1. Take Your Time to Decide

My golden rule is to take at least a week to decide.  This helps to defend against emotional periods of excitement that potentially blind you to reality.

Man, I wish I had taken this advice in my early twenties.  I've got a graveyard of semi-completed projects to thank for this old chestnut.

2. Can You Make the Worst Case Scenario Not So Bad?

I try only to take on projects such that the worst case scenario is still in line with the skills and experiences that I would like to build and accumulate.  In other words, even if I don't achieve the outcome that I want, it's still far from a wasted effort.

Let's take this blog for example.  The worst case scenario is that nobody ever visits the site.  But, for me, that's still a pretty good outcome because I have spent many hours cementing my understanding of self development principles, learning new things and deliberately practicing my writing and video creation skills.  Taking on this project would never be a fruitless endeavor for me.

3. Is This Project in Alignment with Deeper Meaning, your Values and the Type of Person you want to Be?

We're getting a bit deep here, but investing a load of time on something that you're not proud of, doesn't mean anything to you and is not in line with the type of person you want to be is a dangerous strategy.

The most typical example of this is "just doing it for the money".  

I've been here before - one of my first projects was a hotel booking site for my home town. I didn't give a stuff about hotels, and I still don't. I just wanted to rank high and make some coin. It inevitably failed as my interest waned to the point of wanting to jump out of the window rather than write another hotel review.

In contrast, this site is very much in line with the kind of person that I want to be for the long term future, so of course I'll see it through.

Some questions that will help you decide if this new commitment is in alignment with the type of person you want to be:-

  • Is it something you could be proud of?
  • Is it something you really want to do?
  • Is it something you enjoy doing and are likely to enjoy in the foreseeable future?
  • Is it something that you believe in?
  • Is it something that brings meaning to your life?
  • Is the price that I, and others, will have to pay worth it?
  • Would you excitedly and openly talk about this project to your family around the dinner table?
4. Does This Project Fit Into Your Longer Term Strategy?

Something I've noticed about high performers are that they are really strategic with their decision making.  They make decisions about their life in the same way that generals create strategies before going into battle.

If you have time, this video perfectly sums up what I'm talking about:-

Here's an example of how I strategically think about the work I'm doing on this blog: In writing all these posts, clarifying my thoughts, and creating videos on topics of self development I'm building up the skills and knowledge that I'm going to need to take lead a future software project.  I don't currently have the ability, so the work I'm doing here is invaluable practice for me to get me prepared.

This skill of strategizing is all about taking a bigger picture view of your life.  Do you know where you want to be in five or ten years time?  

If so, how does your project fit into this bigger picture?

5. Do You Have Other Conflicting Goals?

This can be really insidious and often quite difficult to recognize without having a healthy dose of self awareness.  

When I talk about things being in conflict, I'm mainly referring to insecurities that are contradicting with your bold plans.  These insecurities can jeopardize even the greatest ideas.

As an example, let's say you want to create a popular blog but deep down you suffer from low self-esteem.  If your blog does manage to become popular, you would suffer from imposter syndrome (a feeling that your success is unwarranted and that you're a bit of a fraud) and you would worry a lot about what other people think about you.

This can manifest itself in a number of other ways:-

  • You spend ages building a product that you never properly launch or put any marketing behind it.  Instead you keep postponing the launch, perfecting the product under the guise that you'll launch when it's good and ready.
  • You pass up opportunities and connections that would undoubtedly be good for you because you're afraid of being exposed.
  • You always opt for the safe and easy approach that doesn't involve getting yourself out there and showing the world what you have to offer.

Here you have a very typical example of the brain being in conflict with itself.  The conscious part of you knows that creating a successful blog can lead to good things, but your subconscious "animal" brain is scared and paralyzes you from taking the right actions.

Do you have any conflicts like this?  If so you'll need to work on them in order to properly follow through.

The Important Thing About Deciding Deliberately...

All these questions are designed to ultimately ask two things:-

  1. If the desired outcome is not attained, would taking on this project have been a waste of time for you?
  2. Am you fully in alignment with the project?

If you can genuinely answer no and yes respectively, then that's a very good sign that it's worth committing to.

3. Change Your Focus

Overwhelm is the biggest problem that people have when faced with huge and seemingly insurmountable tasks.  

If you're someone who struggles to see things through, this has probably affected you already.  You get halfway through a project, look at the sheer volume of work that you still have to produce, freak out, withdraw and eventually quit.

What can we do to combat this tendency?  

To answer this question, let's take the example of writing a book.  If I asked you to write a book in the next few months (let's say 100,000 words) then you could look at this in two ways:-

  1. You could look at the stack of pages and words that are contained in books and you focus on the sheer volume of work ahead.  You fixate on how much work you have ahead of you and try and start to wonder if it's even possible that you can produce so much.
  2. You could translate the seemingly insurmountable task of writing a book into a daily schedule that no longer intimidates you.   You realise that by simply writing an hour or two every day you can complete a book.

In essence: you commit to the action and schedule rather than the result.  You know that by doing the action, the result takes care of itself.  I talk about this a lot in my habit system because it's an essential tool to combat overwhelm.

4. Make it Habitual

I guess you knew this was coming, given how much I bang on about habits.

Taking the time to invest in building good quality habits makes a lot of sense, this is especially true if you want to ensure that you see things through to the end.

When an action becomes habitual, it's more automatic for you, easier to do, doesn't require so much willpower and alleviates decision fatigue.  These are all incredibly important for becoming a finisher.

Read my habit system to learn how to build positive habits.

5. Develop a Growth Mindset

Another common reason for not following through on something is if you don't believe you can do it (you don't believe you have the ability).  

This reaction can come about in a number of different ways:-

  • Maybe you're building a company and you see that a competitor is so far ahead of you that you'll always be behind
  • Maybe you notice that someone is way better than you and you think that you'll never be able to be that good
  • Maybe you're at a bit of a sticking point and even though you're pushing really hard, you don't seem to be making any headway so you think you're at the upper limit of your ability

These feelings are all symptoms of a "fixed mindset" and has been brought to the forefront recently through a book of the same name by Carol Dweck.   Here's one of my older videos about this book:-

The key takeaway is that if you have a fixed mindset, then you believe in things like talent and innate ability, rather than the idea that abilities can be cultivated and improved over time. 

If you have a fixed mindset you might see someone who is great at public speaking and say something like "that person is clearly just a naturally good speaker - I'll never be able to reach that level of ability".  You don't see the hours and hours of deliberate practice that has gone into it behind the scenes, so your brain jumps to this conclusion.

The problem with the fixed mindset, of course, is that if you let limiting thoughts like these rule your attention then you're far more likely to quit.

The solution is to develop a growth mindset by realizing  and generating the belief that in pretty much any domain, high class performers have spent hours and hours beating on their craft to get to that level of ability.  And, in the same way that they've cultivated their ability, you can too.

The problem is that even though you like the idea of the growth mindset, you don't really truly believe in it yet.  

To fully believe this notion you need to build up a mass of evidence (that is already out there and readily available) to support the fact that deliberate practice, and not natural ability, is the most important component of success and high performance.

Here is a list of excellent resources to start with:-

  1. Peak - one of my favorite non-fiction books of all time. Completely dispels the myth of innate ability and provides lots of evidence to support the notion that deliberate practice is the single most effective way to get good at anything.
  2. Mindset - Dweck explains why it's not just our abilities and talent that bring us success-but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset.
  3. Talent is Overrated - Talent is Overrated will change the way you think about your life and work - and will inspire you to achieve more in everything you do.
  4. Outliers - Famous for the 10,000 hour rule of success, Malcolm Gladwell looks at everyone from rock stars to professional athletes, software billionaires to scientific geniuses, to show that the story of success is far more surprising, and far more fascinating, than we could ever have imagined.
  5. Grit - Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that – not talent or luck – makes all the difference.

Read as many of these as you can.  It's quite possible that reading just one of these books will be enough to convince you.

As your brain starts to learn about and interpret all this new evidence your beliefs will start to transform.  These new beliefs change the you way you think about new situations:

  • If a competitor is far ahead of you, you'll start to deconstruct what they're doing better than you to determine which areas you need to improve. 
  • If you're at a sticking point and don't seem to be making progress, you'll seek help or training from top-level coaches, deconstruct other high performers and keep pushing in the knowledge that sometimes breakthroughs take time to achieve.

Whereas your default reaction used to be one of dejection, negativity and quitting, you're now focused on what areas you need to do deliberate practice in order to better your ability and compete.

In short: the way you react to adversity is determined by the underlying beliefs that you have.  Taking the time to learn to develop a growth mindset will make you far more resilient and more likely to grind through the inevitable trials and tribulations that await you.

6. Create your Contingency Plans

You're probably already put off by the boring nature of this bullet point.

I know... contingency planning is not exciting and it's not a magic bullet tip or trick, but when used correctly they are highly effective at helping us see things through.  So don't just gloss over this section.

What I'm about to describe has been researched quite heavily.  In one particular study, 91% of the participants who used the technique below exercised at least once per week, in comparison to 38% who didn't.  So, this isn't just another regurgitated "that sounds like it would work" tip, but one that's grounded in science.

So, what's the technique?  It's called using implementation intentions.  Here's how it works:-

When you're trying to implement new changes in your life or taking on an ambitious new project, you can usually pretty accurately predict the conditions at which you're most likely to quit.

For example, if you're trying to write more, you might predict that you'll face the following challenging conditions:-

  • I sit down and I don't have any inspiration or know what to write
  • I wake up and I'm having a bad day such that I don't feel very motivated to write
  • I'm trying to clearly articulate an idea but struggling to convey it in a good way
  • I'm half way through my daily writing and I feel tired

The ideas is that, ahead of time, we take these challenging conditions and create a battle plan to make sure that you don't succumb to them.  

The battle plan should be in the form of:-

  • If [condition] then [action]

So, let's run through the examples again:-

  • If I sit down and I don't have any inspiration or know what to write then I will read through my most recent article to get into the flow.
  • If I wake up and I'm having a bad day such that I don't feel very motivated to write then I will read through why I'm doing this and just commit to writing the title and one sentence.
  • If I'm clearly trying to articulate an idea but struggling to convey it in a good way then I will make a note of this in my notebook, continue writing and revisit this particular part at another time.
  • If I'm half way through my daily writing and I feel tired I will get up, make a coffee, go for a 10 minute walk and come back to it in half an hour.

You're setting up a system ahead of time that you can follow to cover eventualities that you know are likely to derail you.

You might be wondering why this is so effective.  There is some evidence to suggest that once we decide on a plan for doing something, then at the time when the event occurs the decision making process is bypassed, preserving willpower and somewhat reducing the temptation to just cave in.  

It's incredibly simple and proven to be very effective, but how many of us actually do this?

In short: before you jump straight into the trenches, prepare your implementation intention battleplan!

7. Manage your Expectations

I've found the following quote to be so true:-

"No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy"

You can have a beautiful grand vision with every last detail taken care of and prepared in advance but then four weeks into the project everything is up in the air.

  • Things you'd never even considered have popped up
  • Everything is taking far longer than you anticipated
  • Things are costing more than you anticipated
  • It seems like you're being attacked from all sides.

Unforeseen stuff, by definition, can't be planned for in advance.  But you can manage your expectations and prepare for it so that you're already holding the fire extinguisher when the fires inevitably appear.

I've found that many people, myself included, just have quite delusional expectations. Especially when we estimate how long things will take to achieve.  It was only by adjusting my expectation barometer did I start to realise that I was being way too impatient.

But how do we know what's realistic and what's not?

One of my favorite ways of becoming more in line with "reality", so to speak, is to dig deeper into the success stories of people that are further along and figure out what it really took for them to succeed.

In nearly all cases, you begin to notice that there is a long line of very deliberate steps over a sustained period of time that led them to where they are today.

For example, let's say we want to create a popular YouTube channel.  Our tendency is to look at some channels, look at a few videos, and think "that looks easy, I can do that!"...

But when you dig deeper, you realise that they've uploaded over 200 videos over the last few years, have been consistently active in the community, also have a popular web site that is contributing to their popularity and statistics and they've been doing a lot of promotion and marketing outside of the platform.  All of which contributes to their success.

For instance, let's take a look at a channel with 60,000 subscribers, Nick Nimmin.

With a little bit of digging, I can see that he currently has 135 videos, which is a lot of work in itself.  His first video was 2 years ago and he only really became popular in January, 2016:

So, he'd already been uploading videos for around 18 months before his channel started to gain any kind of traction.  Many of his earlier videos were met with crickets but he kept on going and eventually made it successful.

You now know that it's quite likely that you'll be uploading videos for the first year without much reward for it.

By taking some time to look at this kind of evidence in advance, you can build a far clearer picture of reality and what it takes to create a successful channel.  Adjusting your expectations to be closer to reality helps you understand what it's really going to take to get your channel going.

Of course, there are many ways that you can get the "true" story of success:-

  • Listen to interviews and podcasts of people further on in your field
  • Read biographies 
  • Contact them and ask them!  Often overlooked but can be highly useful and help you to build strong relationships
  • Do some digging online to see what evidence you can find of past performance
  • Visit conferences and talk to people

There is no lenience for ignorance.  We live in a time where all this information is readily available so take some to figure out what it really takes to get to where you need to go by looking for clues in past successes.

Some Final Thoughts

So, as a quick summary here are the key points to becoming a finisher:-

  1. Build up a new identity of becoming the type of person who finishes things, build up evidence to support it and track everything
  2.  Have a clear separation between experiments and commitments
  3. Decide deliberately - take longer and be more careful before you commit to something
  4. Focus on the action or the process rather than the result
  5. Where possible, build the actions into habits
  6. Develop the belief that ability and skill can be cultivated
  7. Plan ahead specifically for conditions that will jeopardise you seeing the project through with a battle plan
  8. Manage your expectations by studying pass successes

The good news is that you've made it to the end of this huge article, so there's already one piece of evidence that you're the type of person who finishes things 🙂

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  • Wow! This is like a whole course for success unto itself. Thank you so much for sharing this valuable information. I want to put this into practice in my own life.

  • Hello Gary,

    Wow, I think you’re the first person ever to finish this post haha. Glad you found it useful and hope it helps!

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