There is a problem with doing nothing. There is no way to tell when you are finished.
A similar problem arises when you are doing something. You can be 99% done, but gain little for it. Much of life is made up of packages. I have 24 of the 25 required courses for my degree completed, is not 96% of a degree, except maybe to me. Much of the natural world is digital. Yes or no. 1 or 0. Have or do not have.
Sometimes we have to think how we will finish.
When preparing a plan to achieve some goal, think like a chess master. The opening is a formula. The middle game is complex and exciting, with many opportunities and traps. The end game is much more confined and there are known tools. If you know some of the tools for the end game, would it not make sense to organize your opening and your middle game to come to those? If you know your opponent, would it make sense to deprive him/her of opportunities to use a preferred end.
Author Steven Pressfield recently raised a point. How much is 427 minus 1?
426 seems obvious and for problems restricted by arithmetic, it is. His point is different. 427 minus 1 is zero. Zero being the value of a book that is one page short of being finished. 99.8% finished is worth the same as nothing in terms of book sales and reader experience.
He also talks about the idea of “operational finality.” There are some things that are zero until they are complete. You can see his article here.
Many people never finish because most projects get harder toward the end. They become boring. Trivial missing pieces show up. Contradictions and voids abound.
Stopping can be devastating. Partly done is valueless.
Ross Perot made an interesting point a quarter century ago.
Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game one foot from a winning touchdown.
The digital value again. All or nothing. Know if your project is all or nothing. If it is fight through the remaining details matters.
For financial planners, other rules apply. You are never done. There is no finish line. The same thing applies to life skills and personal development. There is always another thing to do or something to make better.
Those kinds of plans rely on process to achieve adequate results. It is like playing football on an infinite field. You can never reach the end zone but you can keep moving forward. There may even be ways to measure that movement.
People have trouble with financial planning when they rely on events, like a touchdown, for validation. It is process. There is no clear goal line and confusing if you expect one.
Set up good processes and trust them to keep you moving forward. Pay attention to them and look for possible improvements, but don’t expect an event.
Life does not work that way.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
Please be in touch if I can help you. firstname.lastname@example.org 866-285-7772