Book Summary: Finish What You Start By Peter Hollins

About the Author Pete Hollins

  • The bestselling author of Learn Like Einstein and The Science of Intelligent Decision Making.
  • A BS and MA in psychology,
  • Enjoys hiking with his family, drinking craft beers, and attempting to paint.
  • Based in Seattle, Washington.
  • Contact him at petehollinsauthor@gmail.com


What exactly is finishing what you start and following through? You have may

heard these phrases before, but what do they mean?

Chapter 1. Stop Thinking, Just Execute

it’s not just as easy as knowing you have to do it and thus doing it.

There are powerful reasons we don’t finish what we start and follow through very often.

These reasons can generally be split into two camps: inhibiting tactics and psychological roadblocks.

Inhibiting tactics are the ways we plan against ourselves without even realizing it.

They include:

(1) setting bad goals,

(2) procrastination,

(3) indulging in temptations and distractions, and

(4) poor time management.

Psychological roadblocks are the ways we don’t follow through because we are unconsciously protecting ourselves.

These include :

(1) laziness and lack of discipline,

(2) fear of judgment, rejection, and failure,

(3) perfectionism out of insecurity, and

(4) lack of self-awareness.

Finish what you start Book Summary

Chapter 2: Staying Hungry

What drives you to follow through and finish what you start? How can you remain motivated?

External Motivators

Driving yourself to avoid a negative consequence can serve as an excellent push to do something. No one wants to suffer.

Accountability partners. Accountability partners are people who hold you  accountable.

Accountability group. An accountability group can be more effective than a single partner.

Putting money down. The risk of losing money is another motivator that you can use to your advantage

Self-bribery. A final external motivator is to bribe yourself. This is where you promise yourself a reward if you follow through.

Internal Motivators

Internal motivators are your “why” for taking action and putting in effort

  • How will your life change or benefit?
  • How will your family benefit?
  • What impact will you have on others?
  • What positive emotions will you get?

Understand Opportunity Cost

You have to spend money, expend effort, and give up time that you could use for doing things you love in order to commit to things you have to complete.

Keep Your Motivation on Your Mind

Use loud, vivid images that you can’t ignore, or employ other senses and include sounds, textures, and scents.

Chapter 3: Create a Manifesto

A manifesto is nothing more than a set of rules to follow every day

Rule 1: Are you acting out of laziness? If so, is this a characterization you want about yourself?

Rule 2: Three major tasks a day, maximum. Differentiate between important tasks, urgent tasks, and simple wasted motion.

Rule 3: Create daily limitations and requirements for yourself. These keep you within the bounds of what you know you need to do

Rule 4: Sometimes we lose sight of what we want to accomplish. Thus, reaffirm your intentions by stating “I want,” “I will,” and “I won’t” statements.

Rule 5: Try to look into the future, 10 minutes, hours, and days at a time. Do you like what you see when you consider not following through?

Rule 6: It’s just 10 minutes, right? So if you want to quit, it’s just 10 minutes. And if you need to wait, it’s just 10 minutes.

Chapter 4: Follow-Through Mindsets

Following through is 100% mental, which means it’s probably a good idea to talk about the mindsets you attempt to embody.

Mindset 1: It’s all worthwhile.

Holding the belief that hard work can and will lead to improvement

You need to believe in your own abilities and

trust in your opportunities. Don’t create self-limiting beliefs that hold you back.

Believe what you are doing is valuable and relevant to your goals

Mindset 2: Become comfortable with  discomfort.

Everything you want to do will have elements of discomfort, unless you just want to watch television all day by yourself.

Overcoming your instinct to avoid things just because they are uncomfortable

Mindset 3: Allow Learning

You are essentially testing and scoring yourself based on your progress.

Giving up is an automatic failure.

Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”

Mindset 4: De-Stress

Stress affects how much willpower and self-control you have.

You may not be consciously aware, but think about how little you can get done if you’re stressed

Chapter 5: The Science of Smashing Procrastination

Procrastination is a huge problem in following through. How can you approach it effectively?

Temptation Bundling

Think eating Twinkies while working out, working out while watching TV, or doing work while soaking your feet in a salt bath

Small, Easy Increments

Don’t view your task as one huge boulder that you have to get done all at once.

Rather, view it as a series of steps to take from Point A to Point B.

Consider Risks

Being hypervigilant about what may go wrong is a tactic employed by highly successful and productive people like Bill Gates

Be paranoid and start to question what could go wrong. Think about making contingency plans

Be sure to ask yourself how you might lose out if you delay taking action at this moment

Chapter 6. No Distraction Zone

Minimize your distractions in your environment. It turns out that out of sight is out of mind with distractions

Create default actions wherever possible. This is where the easiest and lowest resistance past for you is the path you want the most.

Singletasking is an important concept because it definitively proves the flaws of multitasking. When you switch from task to task, you create attention residue

A don’t-do list can be just as powerful as a to-do list because we are rarely told what to ignore

The 40–70 rule is when you beat inaction through the amount of information you seek.

If you have less than 40%, don’t act.

But if you have 70%, you must act.

Chapter 7: Deadly Pitfalls

False hope syndrome is when you expect that you will be able to change or improve to an unrealistic degree.

Overthinking is sneaky because it feels like action and it even feels productive. But it’s not.

Overthinking is when you fixate and can’t seem to take the first step toward action.

Worrying is when you fixate on something and inevitably start drawing out the negative scenarios and pitfalls.

The solution is to focus on what you can do right now and only right now.

Chapter 8. Daily Systems for Success

A system is a set of actions that you consistently perform every day in order to streamline your success and reach your goals.

Systems also protect you from failure even if you do not reach a goal.

Keep a scoreboard for everything large and trivial. This keeps you motivated and striving toward growth and progress.

Lower your transaction costs by making undesirable behaviors inconvenient and unwieldy while making desirable behaviors convenient and easy

Gather all of the information and materials you need all at once and before you get started. This allows you to work interruption-free and gather momentum.

Finish what you start !

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