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FINISH WHAT YOU START: The Art of Following Through, Taking Action, Executing, & Self-Discipline by Peter Hollins

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Why don’t people follow through? Because it is hard!

One hack to overcome this is temptation bundling this is when you combine an obligatory task with an instantaneous reward. When you can bribe yourself into working hard, suddenly finishing what you start isn’t a massive exercise in willpower—it’s the pursuit of something pleasurable, if only by association.

Systems are sets of daily behaviours.  Systems contrast to goals because goals are one-off accomplishments, while systems emphasize consistency and long-term success.

Following through is related to focus, self-discipline, action, and persistence, but it is not synonymous to any of them.

Think of a robot:
Head: focus

Hands and feet: action, prioritizing execution

Heart: persistence

Spine: self-discipline.

The spine of following through, self-discipline, is what enables you to get your head down and work when you need to, even if you don’t want to.

It’s gratifying and fulfilling to be able to pull together focus, self-discipline, action, and persistence within ourselves and get to watch our dreams be turned into reality as a result of it.

Time management is the practice of using time in a way that maximizes productivity and efficiency. Good time management involves not only the ability to schedule tasks, but also the insight and good judgment to recognize which tasks are best done when.

Inhibiting tactics are the ways we plan against ourselves without even realizing it.

Such as:
(1) setting bad goals

(2) procrastination

(3) indulging in temptations and distractions

(4) poor time management.

Psychological roadblocks are the ways we don’t follow through because we are unconsciously protecting ourselves.

These include

(1) laziness and lack of discipline

(2) fear of judgment, rejection, and failure

(3) perfectionism out of insecurity

(4) lack of self-awareness.

Internal motivators are the carrot, while external motivators are the stick.

External motivators drive you forward out of fear of something unpleasant, while internal motivators make you feel that reaching your goal is going to give you a big reward and lots of pleasant benefits.

You have to spend money, expend effort, and give up time that you could use for doing things you love in order to commit to things you have to complete. Since by definition no one likes sacrifice, sometimes the looming shadow of a sacrifice will overshadow your goals—unless you create motivators powerful enough to overpower your sense of sacrifice and make each sacrifice seem worthwhile.

Motivation has been shown to work best when we are reminded of it—otherwise, out of sight, out of mind. Thus, you should have cues you’re your motivations all around you—but make sure ​to keep them distinct and memorable, use all five senses (even taste), and make sure to change and switch them periodically to avoid growing used to them and forgetting them.

Rules help you follow through because they limit your vision.  Hold the mindset what you are doing is worthwhile, valuable and relevant to your goals. 

Holding the belief that hard work can and will lead to improvement. No matter how hard things get, it is your efforts that will get you the results you desire.  You need to believe in your own abilities and trust in your opportunities. Don’t create self limiting beliefs that hold you back, such as thinking that you are not as good as everyone else.

Minimize distractions in your environment. Out of sight is out of mind with distractions, so don’t keep
anything stimulating near your workstation otherwise your willpower will slowly deplete itself.

Create default actions wherever possible. This is where the easiest and lowest resistance past for you is the path you want the most. This is also done through curating and designing your environment for productivity.

​Singletasking is an important concept because it can be more effective than multitasking.  When you switch from task to task, it takes a while for you to adjust to each new task, even if you were already familiar with it. You can eliminate this by singletasking, and also by batching, which is when you do all similar types of tasks together to capitalize on your mental efficiency.

A don’t-do list can be just as powerful as a to-do list because we are rarely told what to ignore. If we are not careful distractions can invade our space without us even knowing. Include tasks you can’t move forward on, make progress on or help completion of.

The 40–70 rule is how to tackle inaction through the amount of information you seek.

If you have less than 40% of information don’t act.

If you have 70%, you must act.

You’ll never have 100%, and chances are, 70% is more than sufficient—the rest you learn along the way, anyway.

Finally, you might want to do nothing from time to time. This is rest and relaxation—but you should think of it as mental recovery. After all an athlete recovers between races or matches!

Overthinking is when you fixate and can’t seem to take the first step toward action. Instead attempt to Zero in on the details that matter, deliberately ignore everything else, and you’ll feel much more clarity.

Worrying is when you fixate on something and inevitably start drawing out the negative scenarios and pitfalls. Worrying also includes when you fixate on things you can’t control while ignoring what you can control—the present. The solution is to focus on what you can do right now and only right now.

If you want to read more about improving your habits check out this summary about unlocking ultimate human performance or this book about trying to get in the habit of waking up early.

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