Even before starting to follow Seth Godin, I believed in the value of finishing what I started.
May be this habit stems from a childhood experience. My parents did not allow me to leave the dining table till I had finished everything on my plate. If I had to over eat then so be it, next time I will learn to put no more food on my plate than was needed.
The habit then extended into other things. I am not satisfied till I’ve finished the book that I started. I cannot leave a cinema midway even if the first half isn’t exactly great. I won’t leave a conversation in the middle (if I had the choice too), I will wait for it to come to a conclusion or bring it to one.
This habit of finishing what I started helps quite a lot. I am able to derive maximum value from an activity that I can. Most importantly, it provides me with enough motivation to keep going. Most activities have a great start, a boring middle and superb end. Many people start something because it looks interesting but give up in the middle because the initial charm has disappeared. Many times if an activity is continued till the end, there is something in store that no one expects. If for nothing else, it is worth finishing something just to get to this unexpected outcome.
There is also a good selfish reason for finishing what you start. An activity when completed can go down on the list of things that you have ‘done’. That list is a self-confidence builder. When you look back, you know that you had the ability to not only start but also finish so many things. It allows you to start something new knowing what all you are already capable of doing. That can be a great motivation to start a new activity that is more challenging than anything you have done before or even motivation to finish something you haven started knowing that you have done something more difficult than this before.
Although finishing is a great habit, it has it’s downsides too. For example, when I am reading an article on the web or even a research paper I would like to read every word of text even though that may be unnecessary.
I think what it boils down to is our ability to judge the value of an activity. And to be able to accurately judge the value of an activity is a hard thing to do. Mostly because of lack of experience, in my case at least. It is then when I decided that if I am not sure what the value of a certain activity might be then I will finish it and evaluate the value at the end of it. In this way I can improve my value judgement for such activities in the future and thus improve my capacity to take the decision to quit or to keep going.