Don’t Compromise On The Follow-Through

Like many self-starters, I have not historically been a great finisher.

I can whip out new ideas and plan out new projects with the best of them. But seeing it to completion? Not so much.

It’s one of my own personal forms of self-sabotage and something that I’ve started to become really mindful about this year. Specifically, I’m looking at my patterns and teaching myself to recognize those first small indications that I’m starting to back out of my plan.

There are all sorts of reasons I might start backing out: things aren’t going the way I want them to, I’m not getting the results I expected, the project is getting more challenging, I’ve left the fun phase and entered the hard work phase, etc…

But another reason I start to back out of my plans is my mental health.

If I’m in a period of high anxiety or dipping into a depressive episode, I’m apt to quit or compromise any projects I’m in the midst of.

I’ve always justified this by thinking that I was giving myself space, time, and rest.

And while that is true and absolutely not a bad thing on its own, I started to wonder if I was giving myself that space, time, and rest in a way that actually benefitted me…

…or whether my compromise was just some temporary relief that would lead to greater pain later on down the line.

In other words, is there something else I could compromise on instead of always letting myself off the hook when it comes to following through on important projects?

Could I make space, time, and rest by backing away from less consequential activities?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve gotten the chance to put this question into practice.

I’ve been feeling downright rotten–low energy, trouble sleeping, relentless sadness, physical pain–all the symptoms I am so familiar with after 25+ years of living with depression.

I started to feel like I couldn’t possibly follow through on some of my most important end-of-year projects. I started to entertain thoughts that my effort had been “good enough” and chiding myself with “really, what did I expect?”

No. No. No. Not again.

What could I compromise on that would give me space, time, and rest–but would also allow me to follow through on the most important stuff?

Here’s what I came up with:

  • I didn’t need to be nearly as responsive to random messages or emails as I had endeavored to be throughout the year
  • I could let my team handle every possible little thing that they could without much interference or input from me
  • I could lean on work that was already done (our podcast) instead of feeling like I always had to be in creative mode
  • I could shut off my alarms and let myself sleep in
  • I didn’t need to stick with my training program or run all the miles as long as I kept doing what felt good
  • I could choose easy ways to feed myself–even if that meant getting takeout more often

That all allowed me to continue to craft personal replies and do one-on-one calls with people interested in our 2020 mastermind groups. It allowed me to show up big-time for a workshop I felt passionately about (we’re doing an encore next Tuesday, by the way).

It allowed me to follow through on what’s important.

And, even though it’s been hard, I know that this is the best way I can take care of myself as a business owner right now. I can choose to compromise on less consequential activities so that I don’t have to compromise on what really matters in the long-term.

This month on the What Works podcast and inside The What Works Network, we’re taking a look at what it means to design a business that lets you take better care of you.

While that might conjure images of long vacations and flexible schedules, it’s not all easy or fun stuff. A lot of times, taking care of yourself means making tough choices, examining your patterns, and intentionally structuring your business for maximum personal impact.

With gratitude,

Tara McMullin
Founder, What Works


We can put ourselves through the ringer when it comes to all the “shoulds” and “musts” that come along with our idea of what good enough looks like as a business owner, parent, partner, or friend. What happens when we examine those stories? Well, often, we can discover there just isn’t a lot of truth in the stories we tell ourselves. That was my topic of conversation with Tonya Dalton, author of The Joy Of Missing Out and founder of Inkwell Press.

🎧 Click here to listen.


Now that I’m growing a service-based business alongside a community-based business, capacity is one of my #1 concerns. I’m thinking about how quickly we can bring in new business, when I need to hire, and how long it takes a new client to become an efficient part of our workflow. Luckily, the brilliant Natasha Vorompiova has a system for figuring it all out.

🎥 Click here to watch.


So you don’t want to build the next McDonald’s? Yeah, I know. Me neither. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t all have something to learn from how a franchise business is built and how it grows. This article does a great job of breaking down how systems make a franchise work–and how the same principles can be applied to a micro or small business to make it easier and more rewarding to run.

👓 Click here to read.


Last year, my friend Alethea Fitzpatrick used a 30-day writing series to carefully and systematically examine what she knows about her own personal history and experience as it relates to white supremacy and the many forms it takes in today’s culture. She’s revisiting and rereleasing that series this year. I’d recommend signing up for it for the content itself–but also because we could all use a serious dose of examining our own history and experiences and how they impact our lives today.

👓 Click here to read.


I’ve been hearing from a bunch of folks that they’ve noticed how arbitrary their goal-setting is. They’re looking for something more intentional, meaningful, and purpose-driven. Arbitrary goal-setting has definitely gotten me way off course in the past and that led me to looking for a different way. My solution? Crafting commitments before I set any goals. I’m doing a live encore of the workshop I did last month called The Commitment Blueprint. I’d love to see you there!

👓 Click here to register.

Cover of What Works book by Tara McMullin

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