Target, structure, accountability.

Many people have shared with me their motivational struggles while working on a project. Starting is easy of course, but finishing is nearly impossible.

I certainly identify with that. Staying motivated is a challenge I frequently pose against myself, and sometimes I lose.


I've made progress though. Hopefully what I share will benefit anyone reading this.

1. Target

If you don't pick a project, then you won't do a project.


Look for something outside your comfort zone, but not too overwhelming. I recommend remaking an existing project from the ground up. As I explained in The Secret to Unlimited Project Ideas, copy–until you can create.

If you really want you can add your own creative twist, but don't waste too much time on design and business logic (unless you want to do web design). Find something that already has those aspects fleshed out and just focus on coding. Maybe try TodoMVC if you haven't already?

2. Structure

Once you've set a target, how are you going to tackle it? Head on?


Your spirit is admirable, but no.

We commonly quit things because we don't know what the next step is. Tackling a project "head on" usually means "run to the code editor without thinking it through first." You might as well abandon the project now and save yourself time.

Break it up

Use a notebook, calendar, todo list, project board, anything! Break the project up into tasks and make sure you always know what the next step is. Otherwise you'll lose sight of the target, spin in circles, and eventually lose motivation.

If I was making the TodoMVC app, for example, I'd love to have a list like this.


Your level of detail may vary, but this gets the job done! I know exactly what to do at all times.

3. Accountability

This step might be optional. Some people are self-directed enough that a clear target and solid plan of attack is all they need. For the rest of us, though, here are some ideas to hold ourselves accountable.

These suggestions are very personal, so it all depends on what you feel comfortable doing.

  • Pay money (books, courses, classes, a bootcamp, etc). Now you'll feel doubly wasteful if you quit.
  • Tell someone about it. Now you'll need a good answer when they ask later on, "How's that project going?"
  • Share it on social media so lots of people will ask you about it.
  • Blog about it. You'll feel good creating content, and as a bonus, teaching others is a great way to cement your newfound knowledge!
  • Remember why you're doing this. You've already invested time that you will never get back.


  1. Target - Pick something challenging, but not overwhelming.
  2. Structure - Create an organized plan of attack.
  3. Accountability - Create a consequence for not following through.

Thanks for reading

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Until next time!