A farrier finishing a job

Cowboy Code #3 - Finish What You Start

Professor Gloria Mark at the University of California Irvine found that our thought processes are interrupted about every 3 minutes when we are working on a project. Most of the time, these interruptions are internal. We allow other thoughts and ideas to pull us off task. Her study also found that without a firm deadline, finishing a project is a considerable challenge.

Many people start things, but successful people always finish what they start. You have to put deadlines on your projects. People often blame a failure to complete projects on poor time management, but it's a lack of self-discipline.

An Example - Reading a Book

Let’s say you want to read Simon Curtis's book, The Hoof of The Horse. Tons of aspiring farriers have purchased this book and never finished it. They have all sorts of reasons why they didn’t finish the book. These excuses are a lack of discipline.

You can commit to reading a book. It’s 12 chapters, and each is about 15 pages long. If you commit to reading 1 chapter a day, you’ll be done in two weeks. Commit to finding a nice quiet place and reading one chapter every night (or every other night if you must).

When you sit down to read, be intentional about it. Digest what’s in each chapter. Reading this book is not just an exercise. It’s a commitment to understanding the materials.

If you commit to this practice, you’ll finish the book in a few weeks, and you’ll feel proud that you remained committed to your goal. You’ll also gain incredible insights into horse hooves, which will make you a better farrier.

How to Commit to Finishing What you Start

Break your goals into small tasks and give each one a firm deadline. Let's say you want to put up a retaining wall in your backyard. You draw out the plans, you’re excited about how great it’s going to look, and you know where the plants will go. You borrow a friend’s trailer and tell him you’ll return it the next day.

After getting home with 100 new cement blocks you’ve purchased to build the wall, you start to unload the trailer. Halfway in, you’re tired. Your brain starts to wander to other things, so you tell yourself you’ll finish everything tomorrow.

The next morning rolls around and you don’t end up getting around to unloading the trailer. You’ve broken a commitment to yourself and your friend, who is waiting to get his trailer back. He’ll probably never lend you anything again.

A better solution would be to unload the blocks one at a time. Tell yourself that there is only 100 to move, and get it done. Honor your commitment to yourself and your friend, and bring their trailer back the next day as promised. You will feel so much better about yourself if you go with the second option.

When we fail to finish what we start, our brains recall other things we haven't finished. In psychology, this is called the Zeigarnik Effect. Our minds have a strong need to finish what we start. When this doesn’t happen, regret and guilt and failure creep in and become our reality if left unchecked.

Think of all the books you’ve wanted to read but haven’t. The projects you started but didn’t finish—the ideas you’ve had but never taken action on. Many people have a boatload of things that have been relegated to a purgatory of incompletion in their lives.

Don’t become that person. Go out there and finish what you start. Make it a habit to live by the cowboy code. You’ll develop pride and a work ethic that's going to surprise you. People with good intentions make promises, but people with good character, keep them.

*Disclaimer when we discuss finishing what we start, we don’t mean shoeing ill-mannered, dangerous horses. It’s always okay to step away from a situation if you don’t feel safe. When a farrier wrestles with a bad horse, they’ve just c onvinced the owner that their horse’s behavior is acceptable. Apply Now