Always Changing Directions?
If you often start new products, services, or directions in your business, only to look back in the not-do-distant future and say, What happened?!? you might stuck in the Never Finish Anything Syndrome phase of your business growth, especially if you're free-spirited.
That idea that seemed so great at the time got sidetracked by life or another idea. Maybe it worked but didn't offer enough profit for the effort? Or perhaps you went in a new direction?
How do you know when it's better to move on or stay and finish what you started? When it’s a bad idea, not a symptom of the Never Finish Anything Syndrome?
Meet Mara, Never Finish Anything Syndrome’s Leader
Have you heard the story of how the Buddha reached enlightenment?
Siddhartha (Buddha) meditates under a tree (or so the story goes), and Mara, the Lord of Death, sends his beautiful daughters to distract Siddhartha from reaching enlightenment and becoming Buddha.
Siddhartha refuses Mara's advances, and an enraged Mara sends his army of monsters to attack — yet still, Siddhartha sits untouched. Finally, with Mara's monster army bearing witness, he asks Siddhartha, "Who will speak for you?" [Who believes you can do it?]
Siddhartha gently places his hand on the ground, and the earth itself answers, "I bear you witness!" [I believe he can] and poof! Mara disappears.
Siddhartha met his final challenge, reached enlightenment, and became the Buddha.
If Siddhartha had been chasing business success, that was his Fortune 500 moment.
I share this story with you because Mara represents feelings in all of us, all the time. Emotions affect every aspect of business and life. Scholars say Mara is impossible to define, for he is all things opposite of Truth — fear, temptation, desire, death.
My take on Mara is that he is Want, in all of its forms.
- Feelings of fear want security.
- Temptation wants avoidance.
- Distraction wants safety.
What Did Mara Do?
There's a Mara inside of you, too. Mara convinces you to stray from the path of intention, to swerve into distraction, to avoid the satisfaction of completion.
Basically, Mara wants you to be confused and miserable.
So if you're not successfully launching new products or offerings, chances are Mara is taking up way too much space in your head and heart.
The question is, why?
Here are three things to think about if you're wondering whether to move on, go back, or try something new in your business, so you don’t wallow in the the Never Finish Anything Syndrome Phase of business — and life!
Each reason has a follow-up section called What Mara Did (WMD) or Weapon of Mass Destruction, whichever acronym you prefer.
1. No One Is Interested (Enough)
Did you joyously send a new product or service (offering) out to the world, only to hear — crickets? Maybe you got a few sales, but not enough to call it a true success. You chalk it up to busy people but wonder in the dark parts of your psyche if maybe it's you?
WMD = Distraction
Be honest with yourself. What happened leading up to your new offering going public?
- Did you make a plan of action and introduce people to the concept before jumping in their social media feed or inbox asking for the sale?
- Or were you inspired to offer it and just went for it, throwing it out there?
Now ask yourself, what other idea have you poured far more time and effort was shoved into a corner and ignored? My bet is there's at least one. Mara is distracting you, probably from another idea closer to being finished than this new one.
Why the temptation to launch a new offering?
Usually, fear of success. ←This one always catches me at the worst time! Mara's tempting you with something new to think about, instead of the nitty-gritty expansion of an existing (solid and good) idea. Solid Never Finish Anything Syndrome territory, right here.
2. Too Much Time Or Not Enough Profit
You worked SO HARD on this offering, planning every step, writing it all out — making SURE it was something that benefits your customers. But after executing it a few times, you conclude it's a great idea, and people love it, but it's just too much work, not enough profit, or both!
WMD = Self-Sabotage (Fear)
So, you had an offering that made customers happy? People wanted it. People bought it.
What system did you have in place to fulfill orders as simply as possible? And no, simples is not always less tech.
- Was there automated ordering or batch deliveries, or did you scramble to fill every order/appt. as soon as it came in?
- Have you started using a free calendar-booking app like Calendly to batch similar appointments, so you can mentally prepare?
- Did you set up an online checkout so you're not texting people about products and chasing them down for payment or delivery?
- Did you charge more to make it worth your time?
Yes, systems suck to implement, but you have to start somewhere, or scaling your business growth will never happen. Mara is convincing you to self-sabotage an opportunity that likely needs finessing, not abandonment.
3. I Went In A New Direction
No lie, this is a very familiar one for me and many free-spirited business owners! I have new business ideas, one after the other, constantly flowing out of my brain. If only we could get paid for these, right?!? It’s a hallmark symptom of Never Finish Anything Syndrome.
Some disappear quickly, but a few ideas (often a few times a year!) would catch hold and send me running down a new path. I'd refine a different skill, plan logo updates and new offerings for my new business angle. But they never really worked out, so I'd head back to what I used to do and feel like it needed yet another rebrand. Wasted time, no progress.
WMD = Temptation
If you're an idea person, this struggle never goes away. There is always a pot of gold at the end of the next business idea: an easier way, a more significant opportunity, a truer calling.
Mara is tempting you. Your idea might be the best one you've ever had, but if it's that good, couldn't it sit for a little while as you finish up the launch of your last idea?
Do you see the temptation yet? It's mentally safer to plan for success rather than DO success. See self-sabotage and fear. Temptation is the most difficult to recognize because you occasionally need a new direction.
But if you're choosing new directions more than expanding existing ones, you're giving in to the temptation of avoiding emotions and chasing the next dream-phase dopamine-high.
Ready To Move Past Never Finish Anything Syndrome?
So, how are you feeling about moving in a new direction now? Becoming aware of the emotions behind your decision to change your offers or approach can be eye-opening — and, in my opinion, a little depressing. When I realized how much work I put into avoiding work?! It was enough to send me deep-cleaning for a week. #ostrichwork
But I want you to understand that recognizing when Mara is taking over is not an effort to point out failures. Because lady, you have NOT failed. You're here, taking your business seriously and trying to figure out what will work best for your happiness (and your schedule).
Mara will never go away. Well, unless you become a Buddha. But um, in the meantime, start by recognizing that the primary reason you give for turning in a new direction is not usually the real reason.
If you've had successful ideas in the past or are trying to go in yet another new direction, ask yourself this:
What Did Mara Do?
Chances are good it was something.
And once you see change is far too often Mara's quickest and easiest distraction, temptation, and fear, you've taken a giant leap forward in your business. Seriously, most free spirits that don't succeed fail to realize that emotions often overwhelm business sense. And it's Mara's fault.
Now that you know, you can grow. See ya, Mara!
A Quick Favor?
If you had an Aha! moment reading this, would you let me know, in the comments down below? I'd love to hear more about what you’re going to do to move past the dreaded Never Finish Anything Syndrome. Or, if you know someone that struggles with this, give this link a quick share? Thanks!