Why You Never Follow Through (And How To Fix It)

June 9, 2017 •  4 minute read • by Saeed

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” Bruce Lee

Truth #1: All achievement follows deliberate and disciplined action.

The main reason you are not more successful is not because you lack creativity. It’s not because you lack work ethic. It’s not because you’re not smart enough, or good enough.

And if you struggle finishing what you start, you’re not alone.

If you get super charged about a new idea or project and go all in for the first couple of weeks only to find your excitement tanking shortly thereafter, you’re not alone.

If you hit one nail halfway in only to move to the next and do the same, you’re not alone.

Key Idea: You fail because you lack follow-through.

But why?

Make-Productivity-a-Habit-ARTTruth #2: Your Mind Is The Enemy.

Ever notice how when you are on a long run, the treadmill or pedaling your bike up a hill your mind suddenly begins to nag at you that you are tired and your body soon follows?

The mind is a trickster. If you keep pedaling, you’ll be at the top of the hill soon enough. If you listen to your mind, you’ll be on the side of the road contemplating how easy it would be to turn back and go downhill.

Here is what I’ve learned from many of my coaching clients: Your problem is not motivation since you are so good at ideation and initiation. Thinking that’s your issue only increases your stress and results in de-motivation. Ironic.

In doing anything, there is a mindset and then there is the mechanism. Motivation (the mindset) is conceptual. Follow through (the mechanism)  is practical.

Key Idea: Motivation in the mind. Follow-through is in the practice.



Truth #3: Ideas are a dime a dozen.

It’s execution that’s hard. The greatest products and companies rarely got that way based on the uniqueness of their ideas; they got that way because of their ability to execute on their ideas.

Steve Wozniack likes to tell the story of how Steve Jobs only learned to execute after he was fired from  Apple and started NeXT.

Jobs was just 30 years old, wildly successful, fabulously wealthy and a global celebrity when he was suddenly fired. But that firing turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It was when you came back to Apple that most of the iconic products we know and use today were launched.

Motivation is not enough. Motivation will not carry you through the hard times and what it takes to execute. It’s commitment and daily work that get you to the finish line.

Key Idea: Ideas + Execution = Success.

Truth #4: It’s About Commitment, Deadlines and Milestones.

Here is the single most effective strategy to get to execution I’ve discovered: Commit to a plan with concrete deadlines and milestones.

To do this, set a 90-day timeframe for any new project or idea. Develop a plan to achieve the most possible progress you can make in the timeframe you assigned. Use Trello to schedule your milestones and deadlines. Then, assess the next 90 days. Have you clearly framed the project, idea or opportunity? What hypothesis or prototype can you develop and test? What are your key milestones leading up to the 90 days? What are your success measures at the 90 day mark? When you’ve hit the 90 day mark, conduct a project postmortem  to learn from successes and failures. What was done well? What could have been improved? What else do you need to know or learn. It’s remarkable what can happen when you think that way. When you develop a Kaizen discipline.

Key Idea: It’s not about motivation, it’s about commitment.


The key to success is follow through. The key to follow through is action. Discipline is useful to spark and maintain momentum to make sure that each day to make sure you are stacking the deck in your favor. Thinking (and especially over-thinking) is counter-productive. If you rely on fleeting moments of motivation for achievement, you will only be frustrated and you will stagnate. But if you can reaffirm and sustain that motivation over the long haul by understanding the elements of commitment and by following a disciplined plan of action, you will greatly increase your chance of success.


Good luck.



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