“ADD or ADHD”. Decades and finally there are some indications that it could apply to you. Excellent article from ADDitude. “I am an Excellent Starter. The Trouble Is Finishing.”

18th March 2022

Guest Blogs

“I Am an Excellent Starter. The Trouble Is Finishing.”

“Beginnings are delicious and full of excitement. But there is no real satisfaction without completion. I want a finished product, a publication, the glory of a checklist full of checkmarks. But with an ADHD brain that struggles with poor working memory, extended focus, and slogging through the mundane, it’s challenging to get to The End of anything.”

Jill Finnessy, ADDitude blogger

By Jill Finnessy Updated on February 22, 2022

Paint Roller On Yellow Wall At Home

I am an excellent starter. The trouble is I am not much of a finisher.

In the nooks and crannies of my house you can find any number of creative projects I’ve begun with vim and vigor. I have a stack of unfinished books on my nightstand. My desk is filled with thank you notes I wrote months ago, brimming with warm sentiments of gratitude that will never reach the intended recipients. I have a planter in my dining room that sits plantless, a box of frames that sit pictureless, and a slew of half-written articles and stories lingering lifeless in the abyss of my laptop.

I lose steam before I get to the finish line. I’m running out of juice for this blog post right now. I’m thinking of closing my laptop and folding laundry while I watch the rest of “60 Minutes.” I could at least finish that.

If it’s not about losing steam, it’s about memory. Unless I’ve explicitly written it down to remember, or left it laying out to see, I will completely forget what I was working on the day before, not to mention weeks or months before.

At 42 years old, I have given up on so many wonderful ideas. It’s hard not to give up on myself sometimes, too — especially when my cynical inner voice says, “Oh, you think that’s a good idea? Don’t kid yourself. You’ll never finish it.”

[Get This Free Download: Finish Your To-Do List TODAY]

Beginnings are delicious and full of excitement. But there is no real satisfaction without completion. I want a finished product, a publication, the glory of a checklist full of checkmarks. But with an ADHD brain that struggles with poor working memory, extended focus, and slogging through the mundane, it’s challenging to get to The End of anything.

To be clear, it’s not like I don’t know what completion looks like. In fact, I hadn’t realized that I’ve developed tricks to get to the end zone over the years until I started teaching them to my son, who also has ADHD.

How to Finish What You Start: My Top 5 Tips

1. Outsource your brain. Life requires a lot of upkeep, thought, and mental planning. Trying to keep it all in your head won’t work. (And ADHD doesn’t help.) So use calendars, lists, alarms, reminders, and other external tools to help free up your brain space and organize your time around the things you want to accomplish.

2. Say no frequently and without guilt. Say it with me: I do not need to be on that committee. I do not need to complete that Airbnb review. I do not need to make the meatballs from scratch.

[Read: Put a Bow on Finished Projects]

3. Set up a track and reward system. I hate keeping sticker charts for my kids (add them to the list of things I start but never finish), but there’s something incredibly satisfying about checking a box and reaping the reward. While I don’t have an actual sticker chart for myself, I do keep a weekly list of to-dos that I check off as I complete. The more checkmarks I gather, the closer I am to a cookie break or a show on the couch.

4. Make time your benchmark. Some projects are lengthy, lasting days, weeks or months. Give yourself credit for the time you dedicate to a project on a given day, even if it’s just a few minutes. I did not finish writing this blog post in one day, but I did spend an hour working on it. Time to watch Ellen and eat chips and salsa.

5. Forgive thyself. I am not maliciously forgetting the coupon envelope when I go shopping. Could I have set a reminder to defrost the chicken the night before?  Yes. But can I turn back time?  Nope. Breakfast for dinner it is!

Beginnings are beautiful, hopeful, and bursting with potential. But when too many beginnings pile up, we feel their unfinished presence like a stack of unpaid bills, gnawing at us, taunting us, and reminding us that we lack follow-through.

Sometimes we need to appreciate beginnings for what they are: Tiny experiments that can fizzle out or blow up in our faces. That does not mean that we failed.


It’s a balancing act between self-discipline and self-forgiveness. I have to trust that if it’s important, it won’t let me abandon it; the unfinished task will call me back and make me find time for it. And if it doesn’t call me back, then maybe it was only meant to be a beginning — a step towards something else more worthy of a sticker and a well-earned reward.

How to Finish What You Start: Next Steps

Thank you for reading ADDitude. To support our mission of providing ADHD education and support, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.

Previous ArticleNext Article


Tags: treating adults


Free Newsletter

For Adults with ADD

Get things done, end clutter, improve relationships, fight shame & more.

More Articles Recommended For You

I’m an ADHD Expert — and I Still Struggle With ADHD

Why the ADHD Brain Chooses the Less Important Task — and How CBT Improves Prioritization Skills

Autism Resources for Uncertain Times: Pandemic Coping Skills for Adults with ASD

Your Brain’s GPS Is Glitchy: Why Working Memory Fails and How to Bolster It

How Self-Awareness Unlocks Change & Progress in the ADHD Brain

Perimenopause Problems: How Changing Hormones Exacerbate ADHD Symptoms

Coping With the Stigma of ADHD

The ADHD Coach: A Personal Trainer For Your Brain

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Read These Next

Young Woman With a Partially Obscured Face

Can’t Get Anything Done? Why ADHD Brains Become Paralyzed in Quarantine

A Stay-Safe, Stay-Sane Guide for the Quarantined ADHD Brain

Anxious woman looking at her phone. Avoiding the news is one way to calm anxiety.

Anxiety Is Our New Normal. Surrendering to It Is Not.

More Articles Recommended For You

Free Download

Your Expert Overview: Choosing the Right Professional to Treat ADHD

Get this free download

The ADDitude Commitment

ADDitude collaborates closely with leading medical experts to publish accurate, clear, and authoritative content that millions of readers trust and share.

Review Our Editorial ProcessMeet Our Medical Advisory Panel

ADDitude verifies the factual accuracy of all new content. Sources are cited for all scientific research and findings. Content is periodically reviewed and updated to reflect new health insights.

  • We strive to feature diverse voices and experiences.

Follow us:



Get a free issue and free ADDitude eBook, plus save 42% off the cover price. Order Now

Site Map

Community Resources


ADDitude Magazine

Copyright © 1998 – 2022 WebMD LLC. All rights reserved. Your use of this site is governed by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. ADDitude does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only.

About michelleclarke2015

Life event that changes all: Horse riding accident in Zimbabwe in 1993, a fractured skull et al including bipolar anxiety, chronic fatigue …. co-morbidities (Nietzche 'He who has the reason why can deal with any how' details my health history from 1993 to date). 17th 2017 August operation for breast cancer (no indications just an appointment came from BreastCheck through the Post). Trinity College Dublin Business Economics and Social Studies (but no degree) 1997-2003; UCD 1997/1998 night classes) essays, projects, writings. Trinity Horizon Programme 1997/98 (Centre for Women Studies Trinity College Dublin/St. Patrick's Foundation (Professor McKeon) EU Horizon funded: research study of 15 women (I was one of this group and it became the cornerstone of my journey to now 2017) over 9 mth period diagnosed with depression and their reintegration into society, with special emphasis on work, arts, further education; Notes from time at Trinity Horizon Project 1997/98; Articles written for Irishhealth.com 2003/2004; St Patricks Foundation monthly lecture notes for a specific period in time; Selection of Poetry including poems written by people I know; Quotations 1998-2017; other writings mainly with theme of social justice under the heading Citizen Journalism Ireland. Letters written to friends about life in Zimbabwe; Family history including Michael Comyn KC, my grandfather, my grandmother's family, the O'Donnellan ffrench Blake-Forsters; Moral wrong: An acrimonious divorce but the real injustice was the Catholic Church granting an annulment – you can read it and make your own judgment, I have mine. Topics I have written about include annual Brain Awareness week, Mashonaland Irish Associataion in Zimbabwe, Suicide (a life sentence to those left behind); Nostalgia: Tara Hill, Co. Meath.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s