Monday, April 4, 2016

Are You a Starter or a Finisher?

Are you a starter or a finisher? 

Do you tend to begin a project with enthusiasm then fizzle out somewhere in the middle? Do you have more unfinished books then completed ones? Does your excitement about a project wane after a few days, weeks or months?

Maybe you are the one who procrastinates, driving others crazy with excuses as to why you haven't started. Does that procrastination turn into a last minute frenzy to get the project done a week before the deadline? Do you tie up all your lose ends, finish the project and take some time off before tackling the next one?

I am a starter. Hubbles is a finisher. I think I amuse him with all the things I excitedly begin and never finish. He drives me crazy with his procrastination. Several years ago, we had an opportunity to relocate. His company promised the same job with the same pay in an area with a lower cost of living. The thought of buying a house with cash (and most definitely a pool!) in a warmer climate appealed to me. I kept asking him if he'd talked to his boss yet, and he always had a reason why he hadn't. Eventually, the opportunity closed and I was just a tad resentful, but forgot about it. A few years later, he told me that a good number of the people who relocated had lost their jobs. That was when I realized that his procrastination wasn't such a bad thing, and my impulsiveness wasn't such a great thing.

Luckily, we balance each other. Yes, I have to "remind" him at times, but once he begins the project, he patiently sees it to its completion. Always.

Me...not so much. I love trying new things and I get bored of the old. I've moved so many times, that my mother once told me I'm "shanty Irish." (which is like Irish white trash I suppose). Instead of cleaning my house, I just moved into another, cleaner one. She was kidding, of course (I think).

I make spontaneous decisions and excited commitments that turn out to be tedious and time-consuming, then I feel resentful. As I age, I'm's a slow process to be someone you're not wired to be.

Which brings me back to the first question: 

Are you a starter or a finisher?

Everyone has certain aspects of their personalities that they don't like and wish they could change. Sometimes we can, but often, we discover that we're just hard-wired that way. 

In her book, Wired That Way, Marita Littauer explains the four basic personalities:

  • Powerful Choleric
  • Popular Sanguine
  • Peaceful Phlegmatic and 
  • Perfect Melancholy

An introverted Phlegmatic's basic desire is to have peace, and that person controls others (and situations) by procrastinating. 

A Sanguine's extroverted personality just wants to have fun and controls by charm (Since I didn't go into the other two, can you guess which two Hubbles and I are?)

I find personality profiles to be fascinating. When you take these tests (and answer honestly, not with the answer of the traits you'd like to have!), it is truly amazing and eye-opening how right on they are. 

If we have been hard-wired with certain traits, then why do we berate ourselves when we fall short of our own expectations--expectations that we often truly can't meet?

Because we see in others what we wish we had in ourselves. And try as we might, we just can't be that way. I can't relax in a recliner for hours watching Youtube videos and old movies like my spouse can. I find that to be a waste of time.There are too many other fun things to do. 

Conversely, he watches me and tells me that I don't know how to relax. He's right. For a Sanguine, there is no relaxing. Not if there's a party going on, and if there is, I need to know why I wasn't invited. If there's not, I'll make one. 

Dear reader, don't you know that God knew what He was doing when he fashioned us? If he made us all to be Phlegmatics, nothing would get done. If we were all Cholerics (their basic desire is control and uses threats of anger to control others), no one would ever stop working. And if the world was made up of moody Melancholies, no one would be allowed to make a mistake, because their driving force is perfection. 

None of these traits are bad or wrong. They're all part of our internal design--God's design.

So go ahead and celebrate the fact that you procrastinate. Recognize it and determine to control it, not letting it control you. if you're a finisher, congratulate yourself for a job well done.

And if you're a starter, go ahead and have a little fun. Enjoy yourself. But don't forget to set goals and be accountable if you need to finish something. Instead of berating yourself for "never finishing anything," (what I tend to say), look at all the things you actually did finish, and congratulate yourself for a job well done.

If you're interested in learning more about personality profiles, I highly recommend Wired That Way, by Marita Littauer, or any books by Florence Littauer (Marita's mother), the guru of personality profiles.

You just may discover that you're worth celebrating.

Blessings Along the Path,

Sharing this blog with some of these lovelies  


  1. Mary, it usually works that way, doesn't it? A married couple who are complete opposites. :) I was always that kid who wouldn't start a new coloring page until I finished the old one. I'm very much a finisher. Lately, with age, I'm finding myself needing to do big projects in sections, over a period of time (rather than from start to finish). It's teaching me something about patience. :) Glad my designer knew what He was doing when crafting my personality. :) Blessed to be your linkup buddy at Kelly's place this morning. ((blessings))

  2. I am also fascinated by personality/temperament profiles. I find it fun to *type* people in my family and people that I meet. I'm not trying to buttonhole anyone into a certain category, but I find it helpful to gain some insight into what makes them tick, and how I might better relate to them.

    Years ago I read (and greatly enjoyed) "The Spirit Filled Temperament" by Tim LaHaye. For the first time, I discovered what my temperament was. It was like a light went on. I was greatly consoled to know that I wasn't weird (maybe), but that how I was wired finally made sense. It was like someone had met and described me to a "T". I found it most interesting and helpful to read about my strengths and weaknesses, and to discover how the work of the Holy Spirit could transform my particular temperament to the purposes of God.

    So, what am I?

    A Melancholy, to the core. And yes, I'm a perfectionist. But, for me, I find that most of my perfectionism is self-directed. I'm incredibly introspective, and easily find fault with my shortcomings. I'm much easier on others than I am on myself. But, can't lie, I still have pretty high expectations.

    Interestingly enough, my perfectionist tendencies, and my deep sensitivities to the moods of others, leads to a weakness of being prone to worry. And that kind of anxiety makes me a procrastinator. Terribly afraid of making a wrong decision, or of offending someone or having someone not like me, or of not doing something "just right," or of bad outcomes, I put things off.

    I'm with Paul (in Romans 7, taken just a bit out of context) - "Who will deliver me? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

    I have trouble getting started, but once I do get started, I usually keep at it until it's done. So, Sally Sanguine, you get started, and if you get sidetracked, Mrs. Mel here will come in and complete the task!!