Article by Dr.L.Michael Hall and Mr Shawn Dwyer  ~  

Complete What We Start

Setting goals is one thing, completing them is another. Success often depends more upon persistently staying with a goal than starting. In that way, when things get tough, you persevere and complete what you started.

That’s not easy, yet it is more often than not, the key. How many times do you quit because it’s taking longer than you thought?  It’s harder than you thought?  It is requiring more time, energy, effort, money, etc. than you thought?  It is creating unintended consequences that you didn’t expect?

This speaks about planning

Being able to forecast by thinking things through and anticipating what may be difficult to anticipate. Obvious when you start, you want to complete what you started. If you have set some visionary 2020 goals, they reflect your highest values, especially your being values, then-of course, you want to see them through. You want to complete them and reach your objective. Why start something if you don’t plan to complete it? What would be the value of starting something which you later give up on and not complete it? If it comes to naught, if it dies out due to lack of resources, if it peters out due to factors that you did not plan for- how much time and energy and effort, etc. did you waste?

Let’s now assume you have done an excellent job in setting the goal, you have made sure it fits your values, and that it’s ecological. It deserves to be completed. The challenge with completing what you start is that there are so many factors that can interrupt, slow down, and disrupt the goals that you set.

And further, you cannot even anticipate all of them.

Those that you can anticipate, you can build Plan B and Plan C into your plan. That’s part of risk management. This is the famous Question #14 in the WFO questions, “What could stop you?” Here you consider the many possible things that could go wrong and the problems that could arise. Here you identify what would happen under those conditions.  In that way, you put at risk what is reasonable and appropriate and no more.  In that way, you protect yourself at risking what’s crucial.

What you cannot anticipate, those Black Swam events that can arise which no one considered even possible.  911 was such an event. Until then, terrorists had always hyjacked planes and used them to negotiate for whatever they wanted.  Who would have thought using the plane itself as a bomb? Obviously, we cannot humanly anticipate everything.

Accepting that, what then? What resources will you need to complete what you have started?  Resources -keep your intentionality strong and fresh by renewing your biggest reason why. Then develop an overall flexibility and build an inner sense of “bounce” within you so that whatever happens, you have the inner capability of resilience.  Resilience is the practical expression of being flexible and adaptable, able to keep thinking, learning, and adjusting in the moment.


Resilience means that when you are knocked down or when you suffer a set-back- you land on your feet. What this implies is something truly powerful.  It implies that you do not let a trauma traumatize you. Now, is that possible? Is that just for the super-human or can any man or woman learn that? What makes that possible for anyone, for you and for me, is that whatever event occurs, it is just that-an event. What you do with that event in your mind and emotions is an entirely different thing. 

Here you have choice.

And the choice goes to your thinking. What kind of thinking are you doing about the event? If you use the thinking patterns of childhood, what is called the Cognitive Distortions, you will make yourself miserable. That’s because by those thinking patterns you will make yourself a victim of the event. You will over-generalize it, jump to conclusions, put it in an either-or framework, personalize it, awfulize it, emotionalize it, etc. No wonder you will come out the other end feeling like a victim.

Because the choice always goes to your thinking

When you engage the highest levels of your brain functioning, your executive pre-frontal cortex, and engage in executive thinking, you can refuse to turn the event into a trauma. Ultimately, your experience, your resilience, your ability to stay flexible is a function of the meanings that you give to the event. Oprah did that when she was raped as a child. Frankl did that when he was forced into a Nazi concentration camp. The meanings you give determine the life you live. The meanings you give and the thinking that you engage in determines how you can complete what you start.

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