How to Stay Focused and Finish Projects


I have the frustrating ability to begin a project with enthusiasm and excitement, but then the first distraction, interruption, hurdle and I lose momentum. There is a lot going on in the background of my life which makes it never straight forward, so I am reacting to everything instead of being in control. How do I get that control back into my world so I can get just one of my ideas over the line? — Yvette

Rather than thinking of it as a lack of control, think of it as a lack of focus. Control has many negative connotations — focus is something that can be honed and used to create powerful results.

The key is to start with an idea for a project that makes you really excited. Something you can see yourself working at passionately and you can’t wait to complete — with an outcome you really want to happen. Now imagine that project fully executed at some point in the future, say a year from now. Imagine yourself experiencing all of the benefits that would come from completing your project and realizing your dream. Hold on to that feeling as it will act as your motivator.

Since you can now see the future clearly, start by working backwards and visualize the steps you will have to take to complete your journey. Literally make a list of all of the tasks that have to be executed. Take out a calendar and assign each of the tasks and benchmarks to the dates on the calendar by which they would need to be completed to reach your goal. If your project will take a year, there should be benchmarks at the end of every week.

Now you have a macro goal: the completed project at the end of the year — and 52 micro goals: the tasks that you need to do each week to keep to your schedule. And in the process, you have created focus for yourself. Focus so clear and precise that when distractions and interruptions occur, you are able to see them for what they are and move past them quickly to get back on track.

So, stay focused on completing your short-term tasks. Avoid distractions by understanding that the consequences of not achieving your weekly benchmarks means you will delay or destroy your ultimate goal — which is an outcome you care passionately about achieving. And motivate yourself by internalizing the deep feeling of satisfaction you would have by ultimately completing your dream project.

Christine Tardio is a trusted advisor and business coach to a dynamic range of women business leaders. She can be reached at

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