Book Review: Finish by Jon Acuff


The Scoop

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff tackles a topic that we have all struggled with: how to finish the goals that we start. I read this book in January of 2018 and it was especially relevant given the “new year, new me” resolutions and propaganda floating around on social media asking why I hadn’t become a CEO already and grown 6 inches to Victoria Secret model height - “hello, it’s January 1st, time’s a ticking Olivia”.

Jon Acuff is a comedic writer, which makes his goal-finishing advice both entertaining and digestible. He covers common reasons we have difficulty finishing our goals (despite our high levels of excitement when setting them) and he gives real advice on how to overcome that. For me, the real talk was the best part about this book because the pointers he gives are small enough to remember and actually implement. I even found myself sharing them with friends because the tips were so easy to pass on.

The Takeaways

Here are some of Jon’s points that I found myself referencing over and over again.

1. Cut your goal in half

In Finish, one of the first pieces of advice that Jon passes on is the idea to cut a goal in half. Although this may seem counterproductive, he argues that we are far more likely to accomplish a goal if it is more digestible and attainable. Further, once we complete a smaller goal, we are more motivated to continue on and accomplish the larger goal that we had in mind in the first place.

This piece of advice really resonated with me; instead of feeling that I was letting myself down by setting smaller goals (or “angering my perfectionism monster” as Jon puts it in the book), I realized that I was really setting myself up for bigger success in the long run by biting off what I could actually chew.

2. Strategic incompetence: choose to suck at something while you accomplish a goal

When we set out to accomplish something, it’s inevitable that another part of life will have time taken away from it. For example, when I started to work out before work, my after work social life suffered because I needed to go to bed early. Although I loved the workouts, I sometimes felt guilty because I didn’t have it all together and I was sucking at hanging out with friends during the week.

In Finish, Jon makes the case that we not only need to recognize and forgive ourselves for this reality, but that we should take it a step further and be “strategic in our incompetence”. By choosing what parts of life are going to suck in order for other parts to be awesome, it takes the pressure off and makes us feel more in control of getting to our finish line.

3. Figure out your “secret rules”

Secret rules are “rules” that we carry around with us that we aren’t even aware of. They are things that we tell ourselves (consciously or not) that are limiting to our growth and inhibit our goals in the long run. Examples include: “working out doesn’t count if it’s fun”, or “asking questions makes you look weak”, and so forth.

Until I read Finish, I hadn’t thought deeply about the beliefs I carry around that might be holding me back. This part of the book really made me think about my own “secret rules” and how they contribute to the goals I want to accomplish. Most importantly, this concept reinforced that you can’t change what you don’t know about. I can’t say I’ve changed all my secret rules, but I’ve figured out a few of them and I’ve started to work on changing them so I can get out my own way.

Summing It All Up

Overall I really enjoyed the book, and am seriously considering buying it so I can reference it when I really need a kick in the pants to finish a goal.

If you want more content about goal setting, check out Elaine’s article here on goal setting your way to success. Catch you next time on #enggirlbooks!

If you’ve read Finish and have takeaways, let us know in the comments!

Have other thoughts about goal setting? We’d love to hear from you too!