The Final Ten Percent: Staying Motivated Until the End of a Project

It’s easier to start a project than it is to finish it. This is especially true for entrepreneurs.  Revered for being visionaries, generating ideas come to entrepreneurs with little to no effort most days, especially if you’ve been in the game for quite some time. When you oversee an entire organization, you know what goals […]

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It’s easier to start a project than it is to finish it. This is especially true for entrepreneurs. 

Revered for being visionaries, generating ideas come to entrepreneurs with little to no effort most days, especially if you’ve been in the game for quite some time. When you oversee an entire organization, you know what goals must supersede other initiatives to get your company to its next milestone. In other words, when you’re the one steering the ship, course-correcting becomes second nature.

Yet, success isn’t measured by your ideas. Nor is it determined by the projects you start. What really matters is the finished product. And the hang-ups always occur before the end result. Timelines sneak up on us. Financial hurdles delay progress. One mistake can zap all of our energy. When enough obstacles pile up against us, it often seems like the only option is to abandon ship. But the enemy to productivity isn’t always the issues that set us back, it’s our own lack of motivation. 

The worst part about being demotivated is that it never happens at the onset of a project, or even halfway through. Instead, leaders tend to get stuck around the 90 percent mark. There are many reasons for this — being under too much pressure, a fear of failure, burnout, or even poor organizational management. Whatever the reason, once you lose your momentum, it’s often hard to revive your vigor again. 

There’s a famous quote by Jim Rohn that goes: “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”

Don’t let the final ten percent of a project curb your success. You can stay motivated by targeting these smaller disciplines:

Consistently create smaller to-do lists

To-do lists are an incredibly important part of any project, yet they often get a bad rep. If you’re intimidated or feel overly-pressured by a to-do list, it’s likely because of your approach. Many entrepreneurs create a looming list of action items to complete, starting with the end goal in mind and working their way down to what needs to be accomplished first. This may seem well-intentioned, but it’s actually the reason many leaders become overwhelmed while working on a project.

There are a few reasons for this. One, it’s going to be almost impossible to comply with the timeline you created at the onset because you’re not accounting for the unpredictable issues that will inevitably happen along the way. Two, a looming to-do list is much harder to digest. So, instead of one huge to-do list, try creating smaller to-do lists more consistently.

You can either break down the project into smaller milestones and create an overarching to-do list until you achieve these milestones, or you can try creating weekly or bi-weekly to-do lists for you or your team. As the items on the list get checked off, you can celebrate these achievements, toss the list, and start over again. Then, your progress doesn’t seem too intimidating. And as you approach the final ten percent of the project, seeing that last to-do list will push you and your team into overdrive. 

Take necessary breaks

Keeping the pace of a project is important, but not to the detriment of your mental or physical capacity. Breaks are an essential part of progress, even if there are critics out there who would say otherwise.

Leaders who overwork themselves often pat themselves on the back and credit their dedication to the successful completion of a project. But this is dangerous. Pushing yourself too hard will hinder creativity and zap your energy faster than anything else. When you feel like you’ve hit a wall, step away from the project-at-hand. If you notice that you worked through your usual lunch break, stop and take that thirty or sixty minute pause anyway.

Walking away from a project allows you to rest and refocus. When you force yourself to take breaks throughout the day, you can approach the project with a fresh perspective and, even more importantly, a newfound vigor. 

Get the support you need

As you approach the finish line of a project, you will feel the long days, the frustrations, and the stress of wanting everything to be perfect. The final ten percent of a project is when you should rely on your support system more than ever. 

Every entrepreneur should have a trust circle. This can be the employees who you’ve selected to work on the project alongside you, your mentors, and even your family and friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or at least for extra words of encouragement. It may be tempting to hide in your office until everything is finalized and ready to push out, but this is also when anxiety and burnout tend to creep in. The only way to stave them off is to ensure you aren’t alone.

You can’t just tap unfettered motivation whenever you want. Motivation demands patience, attentiveness, and, more importantly, it needs to be nurtured. Don’t let the final ten percent of a project be the nail in the coffin of your success. When you are diligent about these disciplines, achieving your goals becomes all the more attainable.

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