Do you often find yourself wanting to get tasks done, but getting stuck? Do you over-promise and under-deliver? If so, how can you increase your #followthrough so you move forward rather than stay stagnant in your career?
In this article, we delve into the story of *Matt, a recent client I worked with who had struggled with follow through his entire life. We'll see what was keeping Matt stuck, what he did to turn this around, and what you can expect if you'd like to go on a similar journey to get similar results.
When Matt came into my office, I immediately was struck by his energy. He was charismatic, enthusiastic, and ambitious. He had big dreams of what he wanted to accomplish and how he wanted to contribute, but had fallen short in his delivery which led to him being fired time after time. While losing your job for your lack of #productivity would be hard on anyone, it was especially hard on Matt because he felt stuck and unfulfilled. There was so much desire within him to be productive, yet he didn't know how to overcome this invisible hurdle.
The first thing that really made a difference in Matt's productivity was the use of the app Rescuetime. If you're not familiar with this tool, it tracks your online activity, thereby giving you insight and motivation to improve your performance. It does this by helping you decrease the time you spend on distractions and focusing more on the important aspects of your job. It provides one of the key ingredients in helping us be successful: #accountability.
This brings us to the second element for follow through success: self-efficacy. #Selfefficacy is the belief you hold about your ability to perform on a task. If you believe that you are capable, you will more likely feel confident, take more risks, and accomplish more. As a result of your accomplishment, you will continually increase your self-efficacy. Conversely, if you start out with low self-efficacy, you will face more self-doubt, use avoidance as a coping strategy to protect yourself from your projected failure, and accomplish less. You then fall into the trap of believing that the reason you didn't accomplish what you wanted to is because you weren't capable, when in truth it was because you didn't try.
Matt understands that by changing his belief in his ability, he is able to get things done. His lack of follow through stemmed, for the most part, from his insecurities and self-doubt. Once he was able to see his self-limiting belief as an obstacle and reshape it to align with his desired outcome, he became unstoppable.
The third and last nugget that drastically improved Matt's success was when he started valuing his #effort, not just the outcome. Many of us get overwhelmed by all that we have to do. It can seem like our lists are never ending. The more that is expected of us, the less we will get done and of course if we value outcomes and are not getting as much done as we would like, we can start to feel badly about ourselves.
It is therefore imperative that you recognize what you are doing. You'll invest time and energy into a task and sometimes it will flop and other times it will work out well. It is during those times when things don't go your way that you are put to the test. How do you talk to yourself? By appreciating your investment of resources, you are focusing on the journey, not just the destination.
This is also important when a task is large and may require you to work on it for several days. Just because the entire task isn't complete after one day doesn't mean you didn't get anything done. Be realistic in your #expectations given the resources at your disposal and chunk tasks down. According to Matt, "doing small tasks builds up the ability to do bigger tasks."
Overcome Your Lack of Follow Through
You might be wondering, "if I've struggled with lack of follow through my entire life, will it take me another lifetime to make these changes?" The answer is no. Research tells us that it takes about 21 days to create new habits. From my experience, this is usually true for small habits, especially habits of mind (i.e., self-efficacy beliefs). But for behavioral change, it can take longer.
The good news is that while it may take longer than 3 weeks, it doesn't have to take a lifetime. Matt, who had struggled with lack of follow through for over 3 decades, was able to become productive in just under 3 months.
In his words, Matt says "I've been able to get more done in these last three months than I had at any other time before. Ever."
So if lack of follow through is something you struggle with, take note: you too can have a renewed experience, feel better about yourself, and do so in 90 days or less.
For you to easily remember the 3 aspects you need to incorporate into your routine, think of the ABC method:
1. Accountability: Use Rescuetime to keep track of your activity and keep you motivated to continually improve with the feedback it generates for you.
2. Belief: Work on your belief in yourself to make your self-fulfilling prophecy a positive one rather than a negative one.
3. Credit: Give yourself credit for your efforts, not just your outcomes.
*Client's name has been changed to protect his identity.