Start Strong and Stay Strong on a Long-Term Project

By Harvard Business Review

Posted  403 Views updated 2 years ago

When faced with new goals, it’s easy to jump in with both feet. But having staying power to sustain this initial energy is difficult. Many of us may eventually disengage, while others pushing themselves so hard they burn out. Still others might vacillate between the two.

The key to success isn’t starting strong, it’s staying strong. You need to self-regulate. First, set upper and lower boundaries for what you need to do to make progress on a goal in a specified amount of time, like a day or a week. Second, understand how you tend to work — if you work hard and fast to the point of exhaustion, work slowly and find yourself scurrying to the finish line, or somewhere in between — and make adjustments accordingly. Third, building time for rest and recovery based on your work tendency. Finally, create breathing room in your schedule for dedicated work

When faced with a new project, it’s easy to jump in with both feet. But having staying power to see the effort through can be more difficult. To make sure you not only start strong, but stay strong on a long-term project, set upper and lower bounds for how much time you’ll dedicate to it. What's the most amount of time you'll allow yourself to invest in a given task each day? What's the least amount of time?

For example, if your goal is to write a book, you might decide to write no less than 30 minutes and no more than three hours per day. Or if you're trying to get in better physical shape, you may decide to work out no less than three times and no more than five times per week. Staying within those boundaries will help you defend against your own bad tendencies — whether that's procrastinating for days on end, only to cram in a lot of time at the finish line or overextending yourself early on to the point of burning out and abandoning the project altogether.

Identify your habits and hold yourself accountable to your bounds. Doing so will set yourself up to sustain your energy over the long haul.


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