You know how it goes. The resolutions are good, the first preparations already taken. Then, after a few days, the motivation seeps away like water on hot sand, and a bunch of excuses creep in. Why finish this book you couldn't wait to read when there are dozens more on the shelf? Why edit this document when you've just had another genius idea that could be so much better than the first?
If you recognize this situation, then this article is exactly for you. ENPs of both the Thinking and Feeling variety are divergent thinkers and huge concept generators, throwing ideas out by the minute. The temptation to trash your current to-do list and catch up with the next great idea that is much, much better than the project you are sitting on is huge. Most ENPs struggle with these distractions, which explains why so many of them have a boatload of tasks, projects, ideas, plans and ambitions that have tailed off to stagnation, never to be picked up again.
When it comes to sticking with it, you need to start managing the personality traits that are stopping you completing what you've started in the first place. Here are some tips to help ENFPs and ENTPs develop perseverance, tenacity and motivation, and work permanently and sustainably towards their goals.
#1: Program your brain for success
It takes around 60 days for our habits to change, assuming we commit to forming new connections in our brain. The more often we practice something new, the more rapidly new neurological pathways are formed. The good news for impulsive ENPs is that it only takes 10 minutes a day to change your brain's architecture. If you can schedule 10 minutes a day, and dedicate that time exclusively towards your project, you'll soon learn the habit of sticking with your goal even if there are better things to do.
The key is consistency. Each deflection will slow down your habit formation so be sure to turn off devices and give the project your full attention. As soon as the 10 minutes are up, switch to something new. Alternating tasks will stop you belaboring your project to the point where it isn't stimulating anymore. Over time, you'll be amazed at how much you've accomplished.
#2: Keep your goal in front of you
Keeping a prompt or target visible is one of the best things you can do to maintain focus on your goal. When you get distracted by new ideas, it's a sign that your future vision has moved away from you, and you've lost sight of all the fantastic reasons why you started the project in the first place. So, bring the vision back. Surround yourself with images, quotes, visualization boards, mock-ups, and other prompts that will remind you of your long-term vision and get you motivated to pick up that original idea again.
#3: Don't overthink it
Lack of follow through can be a result of failure anxiety - the fear that you're all talk and no real talent, and that others will judge your efforts unfavorably. How many times have you claimed to be percolating ideas, when actually you're ruminating about potential failures? How often have you avoided completion of a project because you're worried about doing it right?
There's nothing wrong with perfectionism when it is focused on getting the best result. But if your passion for perfectionism is hurting your progress, then it becomes a negative. Finishing the project is the prize, so keep your eyes on it.
#4: Tune out your feelings
For ENFPs in particular, there are many times when it helps to integrate your feelings into the decision-making process. This is not one of those times. If you really want to stick to a project, the last thing you want to do is follow your gut. Nine times out of ten, the free-spirited, imaginative, exploratory ENP gut will tell you that the details are too boring to contemplate, so why not play with this new idea instead? If you wait until you're feeling ready to pick up your original project, you're going to be losing a bunch of useful time.
A better approach is to focus on the feeling you get when you reach a milestone, such as completing your 10 minutes a day. When you finish a milestone easily and quickly, your initial enthusiasm will bounce right back. The motivation this causes is so addictive, it can take you to a whole new level of follow through.
#5: Together, you are stronger
A simple remedy for lack of follow through is to seek an accountabuddy - someone who will hold you accountable for the achievement of personal goals, rather like your boss holds you accountable for achieving work targets. Being spurred on by a friend increases your motivation, partly because you get your energy from people and an accountabuddy is someone to bounce ideas off, but also because you do not want to let your accountabuddy down.
The best accountabuddies are those who have walked a similar path and can set external deadlines. It's probably best to avoid other Extraverted Perceivers, though, since they're likely to procrastinate by distracting themselves with other things just as much as you do.
#6: Enjoy what you do
If you're having a good time working on a project or task, you're more likely to stick at it. One of the easiest and most effortless ways to sustain the fun element is by flexibly managing your project. No one ever said that you had to finish a project in the way that other people do: task one, followed by task two, followed by task three, and so on. If you want to do task six on a certain day, then do it! Or perhaps you want to start on the periphery of a project and work inwards, or at the end of the project and work backwards - the point is, when you work in a way that amuses you, the project becomes a great adventure. You're far more likely to stay on track when you do things your own way, instead of following other people's suffocating rules.
Ideas alone do not bring success or fulfillment; they only have value if you act on them. A so-so idea that you've put into practice is worth far more than a brilliant idea that never makes it off the page. Starting today, why not make the effort to see something all the way through to completion? You'll have the satisfaction of accomplishing more than you ever thought possible, and best of all, you'll do it with enthusiasm.