I fought the wrong ghost in 2013 - Jon Acuff
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I fought the wrong ghost in 2013

I fought the wrong ghost in 2013.

That year, I published a book urging readers to start. I encouraged them to begin a diet or a write a book or pursue a million other goals they’d been dreaming about for years.

I thought the biggest problem for people was the phantom of fear that prevented them from beginning. If I could just nudge you across the starting line, everything would work out. Fear was the ghost holding you back and starting was the only way to beat it.

I was half right.

The start does matter. The beginning is significant. The first few steps are critical, but they aren’t the most important.

Do you know what matters more?

The finish.

Year after year, readers pulled me aside at events and said, “I’ve never had a problem starting. I’ve started a million things, but I never finish them. How do I finish?”

I didn’t have an answer, but I needed one in my own life, too.

I’ve finished a few things. I’ve run half marathons, written six books, and dressed myself pretty well today, but those are the exceptions in my half-done life.

I’ve only completed 10 percent of the books I own. It took me three years to finish six days of the P90X home exercise program. I have thirty-two half-started Moleskine notebooks in my office and nineteen tubes of nearly finished Chapstick in my bathroom.

At least I’m not alone in my “unfinishing” ways.

According to studies, 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. Every January, people start with hope and hype, believing that this will be the New Year that does indeed deliver a New You.

I thought my problem was that I didn’t try hard enough. That’s what every shiny-toothed guru online says. “You must grind! Sleep when you’re dead!”

Maybe I was just lazy.

I started getting up earlier. I drank enough energy drinks to kill a horse. I hired a life coach and ate more superfoods.

Nothing worked, although I did develop a pretty nice eyelid tremor from all the caffeine. It was like my eye was waving at you, very, very quickly.

While I was busy putting elbow grease on the grindstone and reaching for the stars like Abe Lincoln, I created a 30-day challenge online. It was called the 30 Days of Hustle and it was a video course that helped thousands of people knock out their goals.

What happened next was at best an accident.

I honestly didn’t plan what I’m about to tell you. I was as surprised as you are going to be. If anything, I’m just excited it actually worked.

In the spring of 2016, a researcher from a local university approached me.

He wanted to study people who took my 30 Days of Hustle course to analyze what worked and what didn’t. He was finishing his PhD and wanted to write papers about what his study revealed. In the months that followed, he surveyed more than 850 participants to build a solid foundation of real data.

This was a new experience for me, because prior to that I was operating under the great “Make Up Whatever You Want to Say on the Internet with No Foundation in Fact” Ordinance of 2003.

What he learned changed my entire approach to finishing and in some ways, to my life.

The exercises that caused people to increase their progress dramatically were those that took the pressure off, those that did away with the crippling perfectionism that caused people to quit their goals. Whether they were trying to lose a pants size, write more content on a blog or get a raise, the results were the same.

The less that people aimed for perfect, the more productive they became.

It turns out that trying harder isn’t the answer.

Grinding more isn’t the solution.

Chronic starters can become consistent finishers.

We can finish.

Why does this matter?

Because starting is fun, but the future belongs to finishers.

Today is the beginning of pre-orders for my new book “Finish.”

If you pre-order the book, which comes out September 12th, I will send you a ton of free stuff. Here’s what you’ll get:

1. The Finish Video Course
2. The Finish Workbook
3. A dry erase Finish board
4. A Finish marker for tracking your goals

Those are all fun, but those last two are amazing. When is the last time you got real mail from an author? I can’t believe my publisher is willing to send out 100,000 dry erase boards. (That’s how many I’m going to pre-order, I’m speaking that into truth or destiny or whatever it is that people say.)

Want to learn how to finish? It’s easy:

1. Pre-order my new book from any of the following retailers (Amazon, B&N, Parnassus, Indiebound!)
2. Fill out this form. (If you’ve already ordered it weeks ago, just find your receipt and fill out the form.)

(Physical bonus products are for the U.S. only. Non-U.S. pre-orders will still receive Finish video course and digital workbook.)

That’s it.

The bonuses will disappear pretty quickly so if you want them, make sure you order today.

If you’ve ever started a million things but finished very few, this book is for you.

It’s time to finish.

3 Comments
  • Phil Kim
    Posted at 13:18h, 01 August Reply

    Awesome! Looking forward to reading this one, Jon!

  • Liz
    Posted at 22:13h, 01 August Reply

    Here’s another thing I think is important, and one I’m trying to learn: It’s okay to try something out for a little bit, but then lose interest in it. Your telescope is a great example! Stars are interesting (and so are neighbors)! But if it doesn’t hold your interest, that’s ok. It’s something new that was tried, and it just wasn’t your cup of tea. What you have now is a choice: Keep the telescope and beat oneself up over having never used it more than three times, or give it away to someone you know is interested in astronomy. Or sell it. You could always sell a nice telescope!

    (I’m not saying this just to you Jon, but to myself as well. It’s okay to not be super-into every single cool thing that comes along; there’s just not enough time nor energy in a human being for that.)

  • Kamsin
    Posted at 06:39h, 02 August Reply

    This is exactly what I have found in my own life. When I take the pressure off and don’t aim for perfection I actually start to achieve stuff! Who knew? Can’t wait to read your book!

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