Jon Acuff: Finish Your Goals and Give Yourself the Gift of Done

Jon Acuff is the New York Times Bestselling author of six books including his most recent Wall Street Journal #1 Bestseller, Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done.

For over 20 years he’s helped some of the biggest brands in the world tell their story, including The Home Depot, Bose, Staples, and the Dave Ramsey Team. Most recently he’s spoken to hundreds of thousands of people at conferences, colleges, companies and churches. Featured regularly on national media, Jon has been seen on CNN, Fox News, Good Day LA and several other key outlets.

In addition, Jon is also a big proponent of social media with blogs that have been read by 4 million people and almost 300,000 twitter followers. In 2010 he used his influence with his tribe to build two kindergartens in Vietnam. Jon lives with his wife Jenny and two daughters in Franklin, TN.

Favorite Success Quote

“Starting is fun, but the future belongs to finishers.”

Key Points

1. Starting is Fun But Success Belongs to Finishers 

Do you remember the last time that you started a new workout program or online course?

Do you remember that warm fuzzy feeling you got in the pit of your stomach while you were starting a journey towards your goals?

Now let me ask you another question…

Do you remember the last time that you actually went through and completely finished a book, workout program, online course, or anything else of importance?

Most of you don’t…

And this doesn’t make you a bad person, it doesn’t make you lazy, it makes you human.

You see, as people we are wired to start things.

Whether we are starting a new diet, a new business, a new book, or whatever else it is, we love starting.

It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it makes us feel important.

Finishing, on the other hand, sucks.

To finish something, you must endure small failures and setbacks, you must persevere even when you don’t feel motivated, and you must keep pushing through the parts that don’t feel particularly exciting or fun.

But success belongs to finishers.

No one became successful by starting something.

They became successful by following it through to the end and finishing. 

When you realize this, when you truly internalize this principle, everything will change.

2. Perfectionism will Break You 

Nothing will wreck your goals, limit your potential, and destroy your plans more than perfectionism.


Perfectionism is merely an alibi for inaction. It’s an excuse to do nothing.

Whereas the non-perfectionist says “I know that I can’t do xyz perfectly with my current resources, what can I do to move things forward anyways.”

The perfectionist says “I know that I can’t do xyz perfectly so why even bother doing it at all?”

When you operate from this framework, you are setting yourself up to fail.

No one succeeds when they have a commitment to perfection.

Because, quite simply, perfection cannot exist.

There will always be something that prevents you from achieving true perfection which means there will always be something that prevents you from finishing your goals, no matter what they are.

If you want to live a great life and have a lot of fun doing so, then I challenge you to eradicate the word “Perfect” from your vocabulary.

Focus on getting things done and finishing.

Because success belongs to the finishers.

3. Slow it Down and Cut it Back

Once you have committed to being a “Finisher” and not a perfectionist, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

You have all of these goals and big dreams that you want to achieve, but they just seem so daunting and scary.

Take a deep breath, relax, and realize that it’s going to be ok.

Instead of stressing yourself out and killing yourself to achieve arbitrarily set goals that don’t have any real significance in your life, slow things down and cut back.

Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say that your goal is to lose 15 lbs. in the next month.

While it’s admirable that you want to lose weight, it’s also a foolish goal.

You are simply trying to do too much too quickly.

Why do you need to lose so much weight in the next 30 days? What’s so significant about the next month that you are willing to starve yourself to death in order to hit an arbitrary weight goal?

Instead, let’s take the finisher’s approach.

Cut the goal in half and double the timeline.

Now, instead of 15 lbs. in 30 days, it’s 7 lbs. in 60 days.

That means you need to lose less than one pound a week!

That’s doable right?

Some of you reading this might think, “No! I’ve gotta push hard, I’ve gotta go crazy and lose this weight”

And I get it, that’s what you’ve been conditioned to think.

But let me ask you something…

If this approach works, then why haven’t you lost the weight already?

4. Examine What Has Worked in the Past 

Whenever you set out to achieve any new goal, start by looking at what has worked in the past.

For example, if you take stock of your life and realize that you have mastered your physical health but you’re struggling to get a grip on your finances, simply look at the habits and routines that helped to become physically fit and apply them to your life so that you can become financially fit.

When you examine the habits that helped you become healthy, you might realize that the first step you took was to clear out your pantry of all junk food, thereby eliminating 90% of the temptation you felt.

This can be applied to your finances.

Call your bank and setup an automatic savings transfer that will draft out of your account every time you get paid. The next time your paycheck hits your account, you will automatically have a small portion of your income going directly to your savings account. You don’t realize it’s gone, you can’t touch the money that has been transferred, and you have no temptation to spend that money on things you don’t need.

Success leaves clues.

If you have achieved success anywhere in life, you can achieve it everywhere in life if you are simply willing to look at what has worked, pick out the patterns, and apply them to all areas of your life.

5. Have Fun with the Process 

At the end of the day, life is supposed to be fun.

It isn’t supposed to be a rat race, it isn’t supposed to be a drag, it’s supposed to be fun!

So start acting like it.

Enjoy the goals that you set, enjoy the things that you pursue, enjoy every moment that you can because life is precious and it’s meant to be enjoyed.

Influential Books

1. Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink

2. The Shape of Ideas by Grant Snider

3. The Dip by Seth Godin

Connect with Jon Acuff

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