Do you finish what you start?

Personal projects linger for lack of money, time and opportunity

In Summary

• You must be courageous enough to stick to your plans despite vagaries of business


Lots of people have personal projects pending for a long time. Common excuses include lack of money, time and opportunity. Some don’t get started at all because they are “waiting for the right moment”.

The consequence of not following through on plans is that many of us have stalled projects in our lives. It could be a professional course, a university degree, a building project, a household renovation or even a business. As soon as we start, we realise the effort required is harder than we anticipated. We lose focus and move on to something else that seems easier to do.

The challenges of running a business in Kenya are well documented and include high energy prices, numerous taxes and licences and excessively harsh enforcement of regulations. An encounter with county government askaris is never a pleasant experience for anyone in business. Delays in payments for goods and services supplied to the government hurt business owners as they are not reaping from their investments.

Despite the challenges, entrepreneurs should not lose focus of their purpose for getting into business. Peter Hollins, author of the book Finish What You Start, believes that people lose focus largely because of personal factors rather than external causes. He blames procrastination, distraction, laziness and making excuses for derailing people from their goals. “Sometimes we lose sight of what we want to accomplish. Thus, reaffirm your intentions by stating ‘I want,’ ‘I will,’ and ‘I won’t’ statements,” he writes.

Procrastination is the habit of continuously and intentionally postponing action. Distractions are people or activities that divert us from what we must do. In modern times, electronic devices and social media are major sources of distraction. “Persistence is firmly sticking to something for a prolonged period of time even as you encounter things that try to unstick you,” Hollins writes.

Entrepreneurs, therefore, must be courageous enough to stick to their plans despite the ups and downs of business. The combination of determination and courage is called grit, described in Forbes magazine as a “perseverance and passion for long-term goals".

Bill Abbate, an executive coach, says people lacking determination either have no goals or get distracted by too many goals. "They will build foundations all over town yet never see one through to completion," he says. Determined persons are persistent, decisive, strong-willed, resolute and committed. They remain loyal to their plan of action when others give up.

Abbate suggests narrowing down one's goals to better direct time, energy and resources towards successful accomplishment. “By becoming clear about the one thing you want, you develop a more intense passion, increasing your chance of success exponentially,” he writes.

Based on those suggestions, it would be better to complete the house you started building before you start constructing another. Finish your professional course or degree before enrolling in the next one. Concentrate your time and energy on your current business and make sure it is profitable before you launch another.