Finish | Jon Acuff

Summary of: Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done
By: Jon Acuff


Embark on a journey to conquer perfectionism and finally achieve your goals with Jon Acuff’s ‘Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done’. This book summary covers vital topics such as embracing imperfection, setting realistic goals, the importance of strategic incompetence, and turning your weaknesses into strengths. Through these insights, you’ll understand why perfectionism can be the primary obstacle to success and how to overcome it in your everyday life. Written in a user-friendly language, this summary aims to demystify complex concepts and offer practical strategies to help you accomplish what you’ve started.

Perfectionism – The Success Killer

We often abandon projects when our perfect plans are derailed by imperfections, but successful people push through these setbacks instead of quitting. Embracing imperfections allows us to continue working towards our goals and truly achieve excellence.

Ah, the excitement of starting a new project! It’s going great, and then suddenly, it isn’t. We tell ourselves that life got in the way or that we couldn’t regain our momentum, but the truth is – we quit once it wasn’t perfect anymore. Perfectionism is the real barrier that stops us from finishing what we’ve started.

Take author Jon Acuff’s experience for instance. He embarked on a new exercise regime, running over 70 miles in three months. Then, setbacks in May and June reduced his progress to only eleven miles. With his perfect streak broken, Acuff abandoned his plan. A familiar thought crept in: “If it’s not perfect, then it’s not worth doing.” Unfortunately, this mindset can be dangerous. Holding ourselves to such high standards means we’re likely to give up as soon as anything goes wrong.

The truth is, nothing is ever perfect, and expecting smooth sailing throughout life is unrealistic. Embrace imperfections and recognize their arrival as the true beginning of your journey. Instead of letting them derail your plans, use them as an opportunity for growth.

Imperfections are bound to surface, particularly on the dreaded Monday mornings. Before you even start your day, you may be confronted with issues requiring attention. Handling these hiccups and moving forward despite them is what sets the successful apart from the rest.

The day after a setback is crucial. It marks the difference between quitters and achievers. Did you snooze instead of going to the gym? Did a doughnut binge ruin your diet? Own up to these imperfect days and resolve to continue pursuing your goals.

Remember, success isn’t about perfection. Break free from the constraints of perfectionism and strive for excellence, knowing that bumps in the road are inevitable.

Halve Your Goals, Double Success

Unrealistic goals and perfectionism often hinder our progress. Planning fallacy, a term coined by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, explains our tendency to underestimate the time needed to complete a task. To combat this, try cutting your goals in half. This simple technique increases motivation and promotes a higher rate of success in achieving your goals.

Dreams and ambitions are a part of life, but sometimes our goals can be overly ambitious, making them difficult or even impossible to achieve. Jon Acuff, for example, imagined himself becoming a field-goal kicker in college football, despite being short, out of shape, and lacking experience. Unsurprisingly, his dream never materialized.

Such unattainable goals are common, and studies suggest that 92 percent of people fail to achieve their aspirations. This phenomenon can be attributed to a cognitive bias known as planning fallacy. Psychologists discovered that individuals tend to be overly optimistic, often underestimating the time required to complete a task. One study revealed that students typically predicted it would take them 34 days to finish their thesis papers, but in reality, it took an average of 56 days – almost twice as long!

To counteract both planning fallacy and perfectionism, consider halving your goals. This approach lowers the risk of feeling overwhelmed or attempting to accomplish more than is realistically possible. Acuff’s “30 Days of Hustle” program, designed to help people set and reach goals, includes a ninth-day challenge to cut goals in half. As a result, participants’ performance improves by an average of 63 percent, and 90 percent of them report feeling more motivated because their objective feels more achievable.

In summary, by simply reducing your goal by half, you can overcome planning fallacy and perfectionism, boost motivation, and substantially increase your chances of success. Ultimately, this technique will empower you to finish what you’ve started and achieve your dreams.

Strategic Incompetence: A Perk

Embracing strategic incompetence allows us to prioritize what truly matters. Instead of striving for perfection in every task, admit limitations, and focus on what is really important in life. Giving up or minimizing effort on non-essential tasks will enable us to conserve time and energy, leading to greater productivity and overall satisfaction.

No one likes performing poorly, but at times, allowing oneself to be less-than-perfect enables the fulfillment of more significant tasks. When faced with overwhelming chores, it is crucial to prioritize and decide which aspects of life are most valuable. Instead of pursuing excellence in everything, it is essential to recognize areas where mediocrity can suffice.

Our innate optimism and perfectionism might lead us to believe we can succeed in every area of our lives. However, in the process, we risk setting unrealistic goals. Practicing strategic incompetence entails accepting that we have limited time and energy. It means letting go of certain tasks or dedicating only the minimum effort required.

For instance, while working on his new book, the author decided to attend to just 10% of his inbox, knowing he could not possibly manage all his emails and finish his project. Although some chores can’t be ignored, many can be pared down or delegated to avoid interference with more significant commitments.

Consider Lisa, a goal-driven, busy mom who achieves success by simplifying tasks like laundry. Washing and drying are enough; her family manages with wrinkly clothes since ironing and folding would consume her precious time. In today’s world, technology lends a hand in streamlining daily responsibilities. Apps and online services can assist in managing chores such as shopping, banking, and more.

Ultimately, strategic incompetence is about embracing imperfection and focusing on what genuinely matters. This approach can lead to increased productivity, personal satisfaction, and improved life balance.

Turn Goals into Fun

Combining enjoyment with your goals can significantly increase your likelihood of success. Researchers found that satisfaction and performance success are the two determining factors in goal setting. If the goal you set involves work that you find genuinely pleasing, you can expect a boost in your performance. Even when a goal is not initially satisfying, you can reframe it to incorporate fun elements, making it more enjoyable and consequently, increasing your chances of success.

Who says goals have to be associated with pain, discipline, and grind? What if having fun could actually increase your chances of success? It’s true – the secret to reaching your goals can be as simple as enjoying the process.

Taking on a goal such as exercising more only to discover you don’t like running is a common experience. It turns out, if you don’t enjoy something, you’re less likely to achieve your goals in that area. The most influential factors in goal attainment are satisfaction and performance success – essentially, how gratifying the work is, and what results it brings. By selecting goals that involve work you find joyful, you set yourself up for success.

In fact, the author’s “30 Days of Hustle” programs revealed that participants’ performance improved by 31% when they had satisfying goals. When the goals were enjoyable, the performance shot up by another 46%! Simplifying this concept, one can say, fun equals success.

Now, turning every goal into something fun might seem challenging, but with a little creativity, you’d be surprised at what you can achieve. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, think about incentives you can add for reaching short-term targets, like rewarding yourself with a movie or a long lunch. Even dreaded deadlines can be made enjoyable by breaking them into smaller, daily milestones, offering you a recurring thrill that keeps you motivated.

So, the next time you set a goal, remember to focus on the enjoyment. The more fun it is, the higher your chances of succeeding.

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