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Are You a Master Of The "Almost?"

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Are You a Master Of The "Almost?"

Mark Junkans

My life is "almost" 100% more awesome than it actually is. There are so many things I have almost done, or thought about doing, or just didn’t get to.

Many times when I am speaking with someone, and telling stories from my experience, I have to mentally differentiate between those things that I actually did and the things that I almost did. If I’m not careful, I will tell a story of almost as if it really happened.

Or, I tell a story about how I almost did or accomplished something with the same excitement as if I had actually done it.

Why is this?

Because I have mastered the art of almost.

In our minds, the gap between attempting something and actually accomplishing it isn’t very big. When we think about doing something, plan to do it, and start to do it, we have already reaped most of the emotional reward.

Our brains get a boost of dopamine when we start something new. It may be a new relationship, a new project, a job, etc. However, these things quickly lose that “new car smell” and we are quickly on the lookout for the next new thing to start while we still haven’t finished the last one.

We love to tell other people about the newest thing we’ve started like books, diets, training, workout regimen, etc. This is why people are forever starting things and never finishing them.

Finishing something that is difficult is, well...difficult. It takes determination, endurance, hard work and patience.

So how do you move away from the practice of Almost?

One way is to delay your brain’s release of those rewarding chemicals by NOT telling people what you are starting, but only what you are committed to finishing. Don’t allow yourself to celebrate until you finish something. That takes too long? Then split up the goal into milestones and celebrate those along the way.

But you can’t finish everything you start, nor should you.

You should always be trying to learn new skills, habits, etc. This doesn’t mean that everything you start you will finish. However, you should be able to determine those things that are worth seeing to completion, and those that were just good experiences.

If you’re like me, you learn by doing. That means you only learn if you want to do something or not when you actually start doing it. Also, by dabbling in several different activities, you find out what you have a talent for and can become a more well-rounded individual.
One strategy is to group your activities into Experiments and Commitments. In other words, categorize the things you are doing into those that are worth finishing, and the things that aren’t. This process is explained by Scott H Young in his post “How to Build the Habit of Finishing What You Start.” How to Build the Habit of Finishing What You Start

Sure, telling the story of how you almost did something is fun. But, how many “almosts” will it take until you finally finish something of significance? That story will be even better.

Be a master of the "Almost." Tell the story of all the hard work that it took and all the failed attempts to finally accmplish something great. Just don't fall into the trap of believing that Almost is good enough. It is just a step on the journey to accomplishing something great.

credit to Wilco for the inspiration for this blog title: I used to listen to this album almost everyday on my morning run. Wilco - Art of almost - YouTube