Be a Finisher, Not a Starter

According to a study that was conducted for the Dutch Ministry of Education, 32% of university students quit in their first year.1Source: Dutch Ministry of Education

I still remember when I was in my first year of studying business. After a few months, students started to drop out. They wanted to switch to different degrees. They thought another degree would make them happier.

1 in 3 that quits sounds very familiar to me. But quitting never popped up in my mind when I was studying.

One of the things I realized early on in my life is that education is not so much about what you learn (unless you want to be a lawyer, doctor, or in other specialized professions).

Education is about showing yourself and the world that you have the ability to finish what you start.

Showing up doesn’t require talent

A few years ago an image went viral called “10 things that take zero talent.” I can’t recall what was on the list, but the idea was that most things in our careers are about simply showing up and doing your best.

I don’t fully agree with this philosophy because every person has different natural abilities and strengths. 

But I do think showing up is a HUGE part of the equation.

We tend to make life more complicated than it is. We assume we need the perfect degree, live in the right place, and get the best job, otherwise, we can’t succeed.

But this mentality will only set you up for failure. Regardless of a person’s ability, I think everyone can improve their life if they become someone who cares more about finishing than about starting the perfect thing.

When you want to get something done or achieve something — simply show up.

The mindset of a finisher

Everyone can start something new. Whether it’s pursuing a new degree, job, business, or sport, you name it.

The difficult part is pushing through and making sure you don’t give up early. If you want to be a finisher, the key is to keep the following principles in mind:

  1. Perseverance: Never give up because your goal is too hard. Don’t make your life harder by complaining about how hard things are.
  2. Mindfulness: Always be in the present moment and avoid overthinking. The moment you start thinking about the future and why you’re doing what you’re doing, you’re lost. Too much thinking will drive you nuts. Analysis paralysis doesn’t help.
  3. Balance: Never over-extend yourself to a point where you burn out. Work hard, but not too hard. 
  4. Planning: Create a perfectly thought-out plan that tells you what to do every day, week, and month. Also, think about what your ideal end result would look like. 
  5. Execution: To finish what you start, you need to be switched on every single day. You can’t waste your time. You can’t sit and think about esoteric life questions. You wake up and you go.

It’s really not that complicated. We all have the ability to finish what we start. We just get in our own heads and sabotage ourselves. This is why daily execution is so important.

You have to give yourself such a detailed plan that you don’t even have the time to think.

Carl Jung: Look inside yourself

Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who developed his own school of thought known as analytical psychology. 

He studied the human psyche, exploring topics such as the collective unconscious, archetypal symbols, and dream analysis. His philosophy focused on understanding the inner self and finding meaning in life through personal growth. 

He believed that by exploring our inner world, we could become our authentic selves so we can live fulfilling lives. Jung wrote:

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” 

As you go through life, you will feel the pull towards certain pursuits. This is why Jung’s advice is so important.

How do you know whether you should actually finish something or quit?

The answers are always within yourself. If you’re pursuing a certain business idea, career, degree, or social activity, and you’re miserable, you don’t have to push yourself.

It requires self-awareness to understand your motives. As Jung said, never look outside for inspiration and answers. Let other people do what they want.

Let them post about their perfect lives on social media. Whether it’s true or not is not your business. Your business is your own life.

Look inside yourself and be concerned with your own motives.

If you want to quit your endeavor, understand that it’s normal. As soon as life gets hard, every single person’s instinct screams “QUIT!”

The people who finish, the people who succeed — They also have that instinct. They just don’t listen to it. 

They listen to themselves. And their self is often saying: Finish what you started.

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